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Chemistry Success StoriesChemistry Success Stories

Brad Rager

Photo of Brad RagerInternship Placement:  Chemical Educational Foundation, Arlington, VA

Internship Title:  Chemical Education Developer

How did you find your internship:  Through The Washington Center.

What are your primary responsibilities/day-to-day activities?  I work at the Chemical Education Foundation, which falls under the National Association of Chemical Distributors. The CEF offices are located in Arlington, VA. There are approximately 15 people that work in the office, but only five, including myself, work for the CEF with the rest working for the NACD.

The CEF is a national non-profit company that was founded in 1992 with the main goal of providing and promoting chemical education and its importance to children K-8. The two main projects that the CEF produce are the "You Be the Chemist" kit and the "You Be the Chemist" national challenge.

I was brought in to mainly work on the "You Be the Chemist" kit. However, with the final round of the "You Be the Chemist" challenge being held two weeks after I started, I had the opportunity to work on this project. The challenge is basically a chemistry based competition taking place on the local, state, regional, and national level with children from grades 5-8 competing. I came just in time to help out with the conclusion of the competition, which was held in Philadelphia; I had the privilege of being able to attend the event.

The "You Be the Chemist" kit is my main project. It is simply a lab manual for teachers grades K-8. It provides several chemistry related activities teachers can do with their students to help stimulate and encourage their interest in chemistry and science in general. My job with this project is to essentially rewrite the entire lab manual, which includes adding, deleting and editing any information that I feel needs to be. I have complete discretion in this project. I was asked to improve the labs and to make them more scientific; this includes format and information. I also have to create the students activity book in which they would record all their information. I am going to try and follow the scientific method format. As I make progress through the lab manual, I also have to have the labs reviewed by science professional: teachers, professors, majors, industry, etc. Therefore it is also my job to contact these people and see if they would be willing to review the lab manual and my work.

One could say the entire job sounds daunting and I would not disagree with them. However, I look extremely forward to the challenge and I know I can get it done.

What is the best part of your internship?  Knowing that my work is going to help kids learn science. Knowing that I'll be an author after this is done for writing kit. And the fact that I live right next to the Supreme Court and Capitol Building.

What are the top two things you have learned?  I hate politics, and I like working with and teaching kids.

Would you recommend this internship to someone else?  Yes. I would recommend getting an internship in DC, it is a great learning experience and can really help you find out what steps in life you want to, or don't want to, take after you graduate college.

A quote regarding your internship experience:  "This internship has provided me with several opportunities that I would not have had if I had not done an internship. I met several interesting people, made several industry contacts, and truly learned how the hustle and bustle of the real world, work environment, and government works, especially in DC."