For nearly two centuries, molecular synthesis has remained the domain of highly trained specialists due to barriers that limit access to the molecule making process. The MMLI will shatter those barriers and democratize molecular innovation, thereby making tremendous broader impacts.
The MMLI will revolutionize the way chemistry is taught and capture the imagination of a new generation of molecule makers. We will catalyze this revolution by building on our already established momentum of engagement with high school science teachers and students through several mechanisms. These will include delivery of “MMLI in a Box” to classrooms across the U.S., including communities with students traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields. These colorful boxes packed with engaging educational materials will empower high school science teachers to expose their students to the wonder of molecule making. The MMLI will also send a colorful macroscopic 3D printed space-filling model of their designed molecule they can hold in their hands, and a cool T-shirt proudly announcing, “I am a Molecule Maker”!
In the summer months, high school teachers and students from across the U.S. will also be invited to spend a week at a Molecule Maker Camp at the University of Illinois. During this immersive experience, participants will spend each day learning about MMLI. The week will also be packed with a wide range of fun and exciting molecule making-related educational activities, including building “MEGA-molecules” with super-sized Lego kits, 3D printing space-filling models of the polythiophenes they have designed, molecular role-playing skits, and attending “The Smallest World” talks by experts that present to non-specialists in a highly accessible format the essence of human-centered molecular design, synthesis, and testing. We will also have many fun group activities designed to foster a molecular innovation ecosystem and encourage the participants to return to their local communities as “Ambassadors to the Molecular World” (armed with the website for how their classrooms can access MMLI in a Box kits!).
To maximize the reach and impact of these programs, we will launch the Molecule Make-a-Thon. The Molecule Make-a-Thon is modeled after a successful Health Make-a-Thon competition established in April 2019.