Second-year graduate Zerina Mehmedović (Alexandrova group) has been chosen to participate in the prestigious ACS/AACT Science Coaches program.
The Science Coaches program is a joint educational outreach initiative between the American Chemical Society (ACS) and American Association of Chemistry Teachers (AACT). The program pairs a science coach with an AACT member in an elementary, middle, or high school with the goal of enhancing the science skills of students across the United States. Each coach and AACT member partner together for one school year to work together to bring science to the teacher’s classroom. Coaches and teachers are required to meet at least six times during the school year.
Graduate student Zerina
(Alexandrova group) teaching 4th grade students at Brockton Elementary School about science.
Through this program, the teacher’s school receives either a $550 gift certificate from Flinn Scientific or a $500 donation from ACS to enhance science education. The science coach donates their time.
Zerina has been paired with David Villarreal’s 4th grade class at Brockton Elementary school in Los Angeles. “My role as a science coach is to design lesson plans that I will give to the students once a week, which will be accompanied by demonstrations that describe different scientific concepts, such as laboratory safety for future science days, a discussion of the periodic table, and an introduction of the nano-scale,” Zerina said.
Zerina decided to become a science coach because she feels that she has a unique opportunity as a graduate student to use the knowledge she has in a creative way to inspire children. “It is important for students to see a woman in science so they can feel they belong in that world as well,” she said.
Her experience working in a summer science camp in 2017 sparked Zerina’s interest in teaching children about science. “I had the opportunity to design my own curriculum for a chemistry class” she said. “I made sure that the kids were always engaged in the lectures and were having fun with the experiments while still making sure they learned something new each day. I lectured on acid base reactions, the periodic table trends, equilibrium, and more. I was told by the parents that their kids were having a lot of fun and were coming home excited to go into class and learn more about science the next day. “
“The reason I went into science was because of my chemistry teacher in high school, if I can provide an ounce of what Mrs. Morse did for me, I’d have done my due diligence for the science community” Zerina said.
Zerina received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from San Francisco State University in 2017, where she did computational research under the supervision of Professor Nicole Adelstein. In 2018, she joined the UCLA chemistry Ph.D. progam where she conducts research on ultra hard alloys and quantum materials with Professor Anastassia Alexandrova.
Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, email@example.com. Photo courtesy of Zerina Mehmedović.