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Polymer Ambassadors (k-12 teachers) visit Ferris State University.

The Polymer Ambassadors, a group of k-12 classroom teachers from across the country, paid a visit to Ferris State University on February 18 to receive some hands-on polymer instruction.

Escorted by Mike Morrow of MBG Associates; Dave Schultz of Harwick-Standard; and Bob Speirs of the Ferris State University Rubber and Plastic Technology program, the group was presented with an array of information throughout the day relating to the practical use of polymers, a hands-on tour of the rubber and plastic laboratories, and a rocket demonstration by Professor Matthew Yang to show how polymer technology is used to create rocket fuel.

Morrow, the organizer of the visit, said that the goal was to encourage the Polymer Ambassadors to help increase enrollment in this one-of-a-kind program at Ferris State University.

The Polymer Ambassadors are a talented and dedicated group of k-12 classroom teachers from across the United States. Attendees at this gathering were from high school science programs in Chicago, Kansas City, St. Louis, Cincinnati, San Francisco and Seattle. In addition to running their own classrooms, they organize and conduct workshops at local, regional and national teachers' meetings, where they teach other teachers to use polymers in their classroom instruction, perform demonstrations, and develop and write laboratory experiments, some of which are available as videos. As a result, the Polymer Ambassadors directly instruct over 2,000 teachers a year, and it is estimated that they have exposed millions of k-12 students to polymers during their 20 years of activities.

Bob Speirs, director of the Ferris State Rubber and Plastic Technology program, and Larry Langell, a professor, explained how the Ferris program has helped hundreds of students, with the help of employers in the polymer industry, to achieve almost 100% employment of their graduates. The program includes mandatory internships so that graduates can be assimilated quickly into the manufacturing environment, and graduates of the program are located in every category from shop floor to corporate owner. A group of very involved and knowledgeable young students from the Rubber Technology program, led by Brent Newby, Ferris Rubber Group president, helped host the visit.

The Polymer Ambassadors volunteer their time. That passion and energy to enhance the polymer industry is a result of the broad penetration of polymeric materials that exists every day in shoes, cars, clothes, computers, medical equipment and other items, for which a k-12 student could find a wonderful career. Ferris State University, however, needs help with identifying and encouraging these students to consider giving the Rubber and Plastic Technology program a look. Seattle-area teacher, Andy Nydam, feels that he has two young men in his classes for whom the Ferris State program would be perfect to meet their interests in polymers, and he will be encouraging them to visit for themselves in the near future. There is a variety of scholarships available, and Ferris State has a program to allow students from almost 30 states to attend at "in-state" tuition rates.

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The Polymer Ambassadors, chaired by Sherri Rukes of Libertyville High School in Libertyville, IL, are part of The Intersociety Polymer Education Council, a not-for-profit corporation supported by the American Chemical Society Divisions of Polymer Chemistry, Polymeric Materials Science and Engineering, Rubber Division, the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE), the Akron Section of SPE and the Plastics Pioneers Association. They can be contacted at www.polymerambassadors.org, and the Ferris State University program can be contacted at www.ferris.edu.
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Title Annotation:Meetings
Publication:Rubber World
Date:Apr 1, 2012
Words:571
Previous Article:PMA 2012 meeting in New Orleans.
Next Article:Rubber Division, American Chemical Society.
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