As O’Dowd students prepared for another school year, a group of chemistry students prepared for another big experience: presenting at the annual American Chemical Society Conference held in San Francisco.
The American Chemical Society, commonly known as ACS, is one of the world’s largest scientific non-profit organizations with more than 173,000 members. Its annual conference includes keynote speeches, presentations by leaders in the field, and networking opportunities. “This is an important conference in our region,” says Dr. Vino. “I knew it would be a phenomenal opportunity for our students.”
Last spring, Dr. Vino and a select group of dedicated students submitted a presentation abstract for the ACS to consider. And just as school was about to let out for summer, the group received word from the ACS - their abstract had been accepted. “They accept over 1,500 poster presentations in 32 divisions for the annual conference,” explains Dr. Vino. “We were considered an exceptional submission and were selected to present in the Science-Mix session with only 175 other groups.”
Margo Azzam ’24, Emilio Retana ’24, Matthew Yegian ’24, Allison Kramer ’24, Jazmin Elenes ’24, Nola Lum ’24, and Finn Hennessey ’23 worked all summer, meeting in-person and virtually, navigating their schedules of summer jobs and vacations to consistently build their research and prepare for the August presentation. “This was a great experience for the students to learn what it’s like to drive their own research,” shares Dr. Vino. “Instead of having the teacher give the roadmap, they were able to practice a new kind of skill and consider me as a mentor.”
As some of the only high school students to present at the conference, many professionals were intrigued to hear how early chemistry education can impact young people. “Our research shows that O’Dowd’s 9th grade Science and the Environment course, which includes an introduction to chemistry, caused students to pursue higher level chemistry classes throughout the rest of their high school experience, including honors and Advanced Placement,” reports Margo ’24.
“Furthermore,” adds Nola ’24, “it’s exciting to see the unique impact our school’s curriculum has on fostering an interest in STEM. It was fascinating!”
Principal Dr. Doug Evans agrees. “The remarkable work of our students and Dr. Vino is yet another example of how O’Dowd is inspiring our students to achieve academic excellence.”