The technical structure of AVS is organized as a matrix. Members can participate in one or more Divisions or Technical Groups, each of which is focused around a major topical area. Members may also participate in Chapters and Student Chapters, which are regional organizations that focus on local area needs.

Prairie - Education & Outreach

Sponsorship of local school teachers to attend Science Educator's Workshop at the National AVS meeting

Each year, the Prairie Chapter searches for local schoolteachers interested in continuing education opportunities by attending the Science Educator’s Workshop at the national AVS meeting,  a two-day in-service workshop on low-pressure experiments and modeling for high school science teachers.  All travel and registration expenses are covered for the teacher by the Prairie Chapter of the AVS.  This program serves as a pathway for the teacher to absorb the latest science and technology the AVS has to offer and to bring this information back to the classroom to educate the next generation of potential AVS members. Benefits include continuing education credits, a vacuum system identical to the one used at the SEW, workbooks, and experiments to be performed by students using the vacuum system.

In order to apply to attend the SEW, please complete the Science Educator’s Application Form, which can also be found on the Science Educators Workshop page.

Here are some comments from Monica Gomez (Chicago Public Schools, Chicago, IL), who attended the 2017 AVS Science Educator’s Workshop in Tampa, Florida:

I loved the SEW conference in Tampa, Fl. I was able not only to grow as a teacher but as a student as well. The experiences were very diverse (People from around the U.S.A) and valuable (Professors from different Universities). Most importantly, I was able to transfer that knowledge to my Advanced Chemistry Senior Class last year. The students were impressed that something "so small" could serve as a model for the conditions of Outer Space. The students enjoyed the challenges they faced with the analytic mathematical portion of the Demos they themselves ran. We researched some aspects of Vacuum Technologies and they were blown away that they were used in everyday things. They were especially interested in how it was applicable to computers and in the fields of Medicine and Bioengineering.
Here are some comments from Monica Owens (La Porte High School.  La Porte, IN), who attended the 2015 AVS National Meeting in San Jose, CA:

Vacuum bell jar used for science demonstrations.  This set up recreates the ‘Galileo experiment’; where a feather and paper clip are held on the top of the jar to demonstrate all objects fall at same rate in absence of air resistance.
Courtesy of Monica Owens.

I have used the vacuum system in a variety of lessons in my class including pressure, thermodynamics, sound waves, and mechanics.  I have also been sharing the system with my department, with about 4 other teachers using it a handful of times each.  We had a very old, unreliable system before this and struggled to do the demos that really bring these topics home to students.  With our new system, we can renew our emphasis on demonstrations like these.  I am very grateful that I was able to get such a great vacuum system for my classroom, really my entire department.

The AVS conference was also very impressive.  Since state funding has been significantly reduced for professional development, attending scientific conferences is no longer an option.  The conference reminded me of the skills my students need to be successful in scientific fields of study.  I was inspired to challenge my students more and integrate current scientific research into my course work more often.  I can't thank your chapter enough for sending me.  The lasting impact of the workshop was a renewed vision of science education and a motivation to continue to provide engaging lessons for my students.

Additional comments from Tina Lulla (Evanston Township HS, Evasnton, IL), who attended the 2016 AVS National Meeting in Nashville, TN:
The workshop was awesome for me.  I loved the way we got to work with the exact vacuum pump system that we would be getting and that we got to try out some of the activities provided.

Student Awards

At the annual AVS Prairie Chapter symposium, three students are awarded ‘best poster’ prizes by a panel of judges.  Recent winners are:
Duygu Gerceker (UWisconsin), Angela Silski (ND), Darren Veit (UChicago)

2016 (IIT):
Ross Edel (UChicago), Fatemeh Ostadhossein (UIUC), Chris Williams (Indiana)

2015 (Notre Dame):
Xueqiang Zhang (ND), Brandon Hirsch (Indiana), Rachael Farber (Loyola)

2014 (Loyola):           
Jonathan Raybin (UChicago), Martin McBriarty (NU), Yuan Ren (UIC)

2013 (UIC):
Zach Hund (UChicago), Zhu Liang (UIC), Jorge Rossero (UIC), Yuan Ren (UIC)

2012 (UIUC):
Yi Chen (UIUC), Hefei Hu (UIUC), Zhu Liang (UIC)

2011 (Northwestern):
L. Gaby Avila-Bront (UChicago), Jaemyung Kim (NU), Justice Alaboson (NU)