Planning an ACS Undergraduate Social- A “Scientific” Presentation

I: Introduction

Perhaps I should have actually begun with an abstract. After all, we’re all chemists here, and I can’t very well put a header of “Introduction” and expect to get away with it!

Rebecca Ou is a senior at UC San Diego, where she majors in Chemistry and minors in Literature: Writing. She is the VP-External, interim President of the ACS student chapter at her university. She also writes stories based on chemistry principles, which we think are really neat, at her website, Chemorphesis

But I can’t think of any header more apt. Two years ago, a rather terrified nineteen year old girl in San Francisco hid behind her upperclassmen as they casually sauntered into a ballroom in the San Francisco Convention Center for the Undergraduate Social. There wasn’t enough food (is there ever enough food when students are involved?) and the tables were large and full of strangers. Nice, friendly strangers who looked no different from the rest of their classmates, but strangers nonetheless, with the terrified young girl in their midst.  After a few minutes of nervous fidgeting, the girl turned towards the stranger next to her and burbled, “Hi! I’m Rebecca. Nice to meet you. I guess you’re a chemist too.”


I wasn't sure what an undergraduate social would entail, but I did entertain thoughts of 1000 undergraduate chemistry majors in bright party hats

I don’t remember his name anymore. I don’t remember if our conversation progressed beyond cheerful small talk. I remember, however, that he was just as bewildered, just as excited, just as enthusiastic about chemistry as I was.

And that, I think, is the joy of ACS, and the Undergraduate Social. The joy of meeting so many people who also love chemistry, people—not professors with their years of experience or graduate students with their perpetual research projects—but somebody else just as lost as you are in this vast world full of chemistry.

That is what we, the UC San Diego student chapter of ACS, are trying to bring to everybody else.

II: Procedure

If there’s anything I like, it’s a good party full of great chemistry. The chemistry can be a little hard to find most places, but if it’s being hosted by the American Chemical Society, the chemistry should be a given, shouldn’t it?

But wait! How does one go about doing this? It’s certainly not exactly the most common theme for a party to have, as we discovered after several fruitless Google searches of “Party Themes”, “Socials for Chemists”, and “Chemistry Party”. We were left stumped on our first task to plan the Undergraduate Social.

So we buried our heads together (or really, went onto Facebook) for a few minutes of concentrated thought.

“Guys, I have an idea!” Moriah, former social chair, exclaimed. “Since it’s the 75th anniversary of the student chapter system, which is the diamond anniversary, and diamonds are made of carbon, and there’s a saying that diamonds are a girl’s best friend, why don’t we have a theme of carbon.”

After a pause, she added.

“We can say it’s ‘Carbon is a Chemist’s Best Friend’!”

Carbon is everywhere, including in diamonds!

The rest of us paused in our deep perusal of Facebook.

“Sure,” we agreed in a peculiarly unanimous chorus. And so it was decided.

III: Results

Theme: Carbon is a Chemist’s Best Friend
Entertainment: Undecided
Decorations: Undecided
Icebreakers: Undecided

It was a rather panicked officer meeting when we realized that our skills at procrastination were not helping our execution of the social. We quickly set about to remedy this (with a few ineffective searches on and the ever handy, and in a week or two, we had learned much about the art of finding a DJ.

Entertainment: Cloud 9 Entertainment

“They’ve even got a place for online requests,” Angeline, UCSD ACSSA webmaster explained. “So people can put in songs they want him to play! Isn’t that cool?”

We sat in awe. That, we realized, was indeed ‘cool’. Entertainment was quickly secured, and decorations and icebreakers are fast to follow.

IV: Discussion

Karissa Lee

Decorations Head Karissa, hard at work coming up with decorations and icebreakers

And it’s now, just over a week away as I hurriedly finish up this blog post that I’ve realized how far we’ve gotten.

In scant weeks we’ve moved from only having a theme (courtesy of Moriah), to having awesome amazing icebreakers planned (thanks to hours of long-winded discussion in many planning committee meetings) and working out the menu and decorations after long coordination with Decorations Head Karissa.

It’s been a long journey, full of ups and downs—we’ve had meetings where we scrapped all of our old ideas, and the meetings when we came up with a list of decorations and ice-breakers. But for now, we’ve come to this:

It will be in the San Diego Convention Center
There will be food (hopefully in abundance)
There will be an abundance of Carbon being a Chemist’s Best Friend.
There will be a DJ playing music (and you can request songs here).
There will be icebreakers and decorations to delight any chemist.
There will be an abundance of chemistry-related puns.
There will be plenty of chemistry.

Counter-clockwise from top to bottom: Rebecca, Catherine, Karissa, and Moriah coordinating decorations and duties

V: Conclusion
So we’re at the end. And here is where I’m supposed to, according to years of lecture, sum up everything.
Yet that’s impossible. There’s still a week of work as we finish up our raffle prizes and trivial questions. There’s still a week as we wait with baited breath to see what you think if our months of work.

So there’s no conclusion, because the party doesn’t end until all of us are in the San Diego Convention Center, face to face, waiting for that spark—

So we can bond.

VI: References Cited
Or, thanks to everybody who made this possible.
Decorations Head: Karissa Lee
DJ Coordinator: Angeline Yu
Undergraduate Planning Committee Members: Nick Kostka, Gino Chao, Catherine Hsu, Jenna Wu, Gary Chang
ACSSA Officers: Mark Gianino, Adrian Lau, Derek Joe, Moriah Kreeger, Annie Jia
Faculty Advisers: Dr. Judy Kim and Dr. Stacey Brydges
ACS Representative: Chris Zeigler


3 thoughts on “Planning an ACS Undergraduate Social- A “Scientific” Presentation

  1. Pingback: ACS National Meeting- Sunday Programming « acsundergrad

  2. Pingback: Do you like our blog? We like you. You should write for us! « acsundergrad

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