Starting a Battle of the ACS Student Chapters: Making Chemistry Competative…And Fun!

Looking for new events for your ACS Undergraduate Chapter? Tired of the same old, same old?  Need a new way to network with other local Chapters in your area?

I have just the solution for you: A Battle of the ACS Student Chapters! –consisting of multiple, local ACS Chapters/Clubs (can be high school or college) competing in chemistry-themed challenges for a trophy or prizes.

Back in 2007, students and faculty from The University of Detroit Mercy and The University of Michigan-Flint worked together to create the first annual Battle of the Chem Chapters. The battle has turned out to be a huge success- from two participants we’ve grown to include ACS Student Chapters from across Michigan with no sign of slowing.  And you can start one, too!  It’s easy, have a look.

Periodic Table Darts: 2011 Battle at The University of Detroit Mercy

Helpful tips for starting your own Battle of the ACS Chapters:

  1. Support: First, find people who can help you. Begin with students and faculty from your school. Once you have a solid team of 4-5 students and faculty, contact other local chemistry chapters to see if they are interested. Even if you only get a few other chemistry chapters to participate, it’s ok.  Start small.  More chapters will join as the years go by.  Oh, and if you need a list of all the student chapters in your area, and a list of NOBCChE chapters, too, you can contact the ACS Undergraduate Programs Office and they can get that to you.
  2. Events: The events can be physical, mental or a mixture of both. It is important to coordinate these events and determine the point system. well in advance.  A few beloved events include periodic table darts, dry ice curling, spectroscopy challenges, build your own magnet, calculation relay, chemistry jeopardy, and many titrations. We’ve uploaded a list of tried and true events (with instructions) for your convenience, as well as a proposed schedule of events Keep the location in mind; you’ll need to use a lab to do some (but not all) of these events.

    Jeopardy: 2012 battle at The University of Michigan-Flint

  3.  Finances: In addition to event materials, budgeting for breakfast and lunch improves the experience. It is best to set a budget early on in accordance with the number of participants and stick to it. Trophies, prizes, and supplies for the events should be included in this budget. You can charge admission if need be, but try not to exceed $10 per person. And be sure to see if your department will chip in a bit.
  4. A Speaker: While certainly not a necessity, why not add a little education to your event? A speaker to talk about graduate school, careers, or their research makes a great lunchtime intermission.

As you can see, there is not a great deal of work that has to be done to pull of a battle of the chem clubs. All of this can be best achieved if you have two groups of people; one group planning the events (rules, point system, supplies, etc.) and the other group managing the food, prizes, and RSVPs. Simple as that.

So why should you do it, you ask?

For lots of reasons!

  1. It is a great networking opportunity. You get a chance to talk with students and faculty from other chapters. From that you will be able to swap ideas or collaborate on future events.
  2. It’s a good way to put to use what you’ve learned in the classroom. It is fun to test your knowledge in a competition like this. It’s interesting to see what people remember.
  3. It is great publicity for your student chapter. Your school or university will recognize this as something very positive.
  4. And of course, probably the biggest reason for doing this is because it is FUN! I am not just saying that; everyone I have seen at this event in the past 3 years is having a great time. A little friendly competition will never hurt anyone and it is entertaining for all who participate.

So there you have it! Our battle royale has been successful and continues to grow due to the opportunities, friendly competition, and fun the event provides! I sincerely hope that one day ACS chapters everywhere will have a chance to try their own Battle of the Chemistry Chapters!!

Safety Dance Challenge: 2012 43rd CERMACS at The Henry Hotel in Dearborn, MI

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at

Candice Kashat is a senior biochemistry major, and the 2012 ACS chapter president at the University of Detroit Mercy. She has a lot of experience in participating and helping organize these battles and found them all to be worthwhile, rewarding, and lots of fun.


15 thoughts on “Starting a Battle of the ACS Student Chapters: Making Chemistry Competative…And Fun!

  1. This event has been a great experience for me personally as our group has become more invovled (Michigan State University Younger Chemists’ Committee). It has been a lot of fun coming up with new events each year to challange the participants. However, the best part of being involved in this event has been watching it grow and meeting more people. I hope more chapters take this event up, as it has been invaluable in terms of it’s networking capabilities. Great article Candice.

  2. Having participated in this event as both an undergraduate student competitor (SVSU) and as an organizer of events the past 2 years, I can honestly say that this is one of the most fun and fulfilling events that I’ve ever participated in. After participating as an undergraduate, we attended the National ACS conference and met up with several of the students that we met which made the conference even more exciting. Now as part of the event planning committee (MSU), it’s entertaining to come up with unique events every year and watch the fun that the participants are having. All in all, it’s a GREAT event!

  3. The Battle events I have helped with have both proven to be great networking opportunities. As a graduate student proctoring the events, I was able to talk to many of the undergraduate students and talk with them about future plans. The events also got the clubs talking to each other, and it was really awesome to see them having fun in an laid back but competitive atmosphere.

  4. This was my first time to help with this event. It was great!! This event is a great opportunity to meet people, to introduce chemistry to people, and to have fun while learning something. I’ll definitely participate this event again!!

  5. Adrian College has participated the last 2 years. The students enjoyed interacting with other chemistry students in the area and had a great time! Also it is a wonderful chance for them to use their knowledge.

  6. Battle of the Chem Clubs is a great way to have fun and even learn more about chemistry! It’s really fun, and even people that aren’t majoring in chemistry enjoy it.

  7. The Battle of the Chem Clubs was really fun to help out with. It is a great way to get younger people involved in science and chemistry, especially when the events peak interest and introduce new ideas and topics to people.

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