FIU@Home: Create chemical poetry

Home is the first learning laboratory. This series brings opportunities to discover, explore and create to life-long learners everywhere. Through books, experiments, adventures and digital journeys, FIU@Home engages the whole family with fun, curated educational experiences.

Poetry, like chemistry, examines patterns within nature and the forces that drive our universe. Both provide structures and formulas that help us process the endless amount of information contained in our world. From Ada Lovelace to Rachel Carson, scientist writers have been key to bringing abstract concepts to life for wider audiences in order to create real change.

At FIU, Biscayne Bay Campus Science Club students and faculty are dedicated to bringing chemistry to the community – especially through art. Each year they run the American Chemical Society (ACS) South Florida chapter’s Illustrated Poem Contest for K-12 students. Finalists of the local contest then compete at the national level. With prizes at both the local and national level, these tips can help the budding scientist-poet create an award-winning submission.

We polled biochemistry major Paul Lahoud, biological sciences major Helena Miranda and faculty advisor Milagros Delgado for tips. Here’s what they suggest:

Good imagery alone may not be enough to take your entry to the top. Lahoud says poems paired with art catch his attention when judging.

Chart your own path, Miranda says. Don’t follow take the same path as other entries. Let your creativity shine.

Lastly, spell check, spell check, spell check, Delgado suggests.

South Florida students have a winning track record. This year’s contest theme, aligned with the Chemists Celebrate Earth Week campaign, is: “Reducing Our Footprint with Chemistry.”

Judging focuses on four main points: artistic merit, poem message, originality and neatness. Entries that win the local South Florida Chapter will advance to the ACS National contest. The full details of the contest can be found here.

Any K-12 student can participate. Entries can be sponsored by schools or community organizations like Girl Scouts. Not in South Florida? Visit the ACS Illustrated Poem Contest website to find your local chapter.

The challenge to create something new is enthusiastically accepted by artists and scientists alike. Whether repurposed, recycled or reimagined – there are many ways to make something unique to solve a problem or enhance the world. Follow FIU@Home for more ways to create something new.

Nicholas Ogle contributed to this article.