Science Educator’s Workshop



The national AVS has conducted a two-day in-service workshop on low-pressure experiments and modeling for middle and high school science teachers from the United States and Canada since 1990. Attendees are sponsored by regional Chapters of the Society with all expenses paid by the sponsoring Chapter. The workshop is accredited for Continuing Education Units by the University of Dayton and is aligned with the national science and mathematics standards.




The AVS (American Vacuum Society) is offering a two day, free, STEM workshop with high school ready lessons that integrate science, math and engineering using hands-on vacuum technology based activities.  This year’s Science Educators’ Workshop will be October 21-22, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio. Local AVS chapters typically pay travel and lodging costs to send a teacher from their region to this hands-on workshop.  Teachers receive continuing education credit and their school may be eligible to receive an equipment grant including a new vacuum pump and vacuum jar. The workshop includes an onsite visit to a major industrial or research laboratory.  High school science teachers are encouraged to apply for sponsorship to attend this workshop at To see more about the activity here are photos from the 2016 Workshop.

Vacuum science is useful for demonstrating concepts in physics, chemistry, astronomy and engineering.  For instance, you can demonstrate phase transitions under conditions that the students do not expect. Many examples are available at

If you would like to recommend a teacher apply for this award, download a flyer here.

An on-line application form is available through the AVS education web site.   Applications received on line will be forwarded to the Chapter that covers the geographical area of the applicant.

Apply Now!

Application Deadline is August 9, 2019

For more information about the Colorado State Science & Engineering Fair:

This year’s judges:

  • J Grant Armstrong – Carberry Technologies
  • Mary Ann Bjornsen – USDA / Center for Animal Health Information and Analysis
  • Jennifer Drayton – Colorado State University

If interested in helping out next year contact Grant Armstrong: [email protected]


Colorado Science & Engineering Fair

For many years, the Rocky Mountain Chapter of AVS has sponsored special awards at the Colorado State Science & Engineering Fair.  Our prizes are $100 for first place and $50 for second place, in both Senior and Junior Divisions, for projects mainly in physical sciences and engineering.  We award these prizes to each student and a matching amount to each winner’s teacher/sponsor.  We hope these awards encourage students to pursue their interests in science & engineering.  Year after year, the level of these students’ scientific understanding, their hard work, and above all, their curiosity and enthusiasm, are truly inspiring.  Our AVS chapter is one of about 70 organizations that offer over 300 individual special awards and scholarships worth more than $170,000.

When the last CSEF was held in 2019, there were:

  • 329 projects submitted by 392 students (some projects were by teams of 2 or 3 students).
  • 168 seniors (grades 9-12) and 224 juniors (grades 6-8), from 115 Colorado schools
  • 183 projects were in physical sciences (our main focus); 146 in life sciences.
  • 198 teachers or other mentors sponsored/supported the students with their projects.

Sadly, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 CSEF was cancelled.  But let’s end the year on a more positive note:  In December, Time announced their first-ever “Kid of the Year” award to Colorado student Gitanjali Rao.  At the 2018 CSEF, our chapter chose Gitanjali’s project for our First Place Junior Award.  Here’s a reprint of her project abstract:

2018 CSEF Junior Division  –  RMC-AVS  –  1st Place  –  Gitanjali Rao

7th grade, STEM School, Highlands Ranch, sponsor Dr Selene Hernandez-Ruiz

project   Detection of Chemical Contaminants in Water Using Carbon Nanotube Sensors
abstract   Millions of people around the world are exposed to water containing lead and its harmful side effects. Exposure to lead, especially in children, have lasting effects to development of brain, nervous system, and organs. It is estimated that over 5000 water systems and over 10 million service lines, in US alone, have lead contamination issues. The problem is compounded by the fact that accurate and actionable detection of lead in water today is a time consuming process.  My solution addresses the core issue of speedy detection of lead contamination, potentially helping people take preventative measures and maybe even save lives! It uses the latest development in nanotechnology, is easy to use, fast, accurate, inexpensive and portable.  It is a portable device, and uses nanotechnology materials to detect contaminants and almost immediately provides readout on mobile phones. Carbon nanotubes are strong conductors of electricity, due to their unique shape and structure. Any resistance in the structure causes measurable drop in the flow of current. My idea is to introduce, or dope, ions of elements that have strong affinity to lead, into the nanotube structure. When introduced to lead compounds in water, the resultant reaction with the sensor causes build up of molecules , adding resistance to electron flow and drop in current. The change in current flow is measured and mapped to proportional parts per billion scale of lead contamination levels in water.  To make the reading user friendly, I added a Bluetooth attachment to my Arduino, that sends the data to mobile phones. A custom app I developed takes the PPB scale, using EPA standards, show the safety levels of their water.  Based on the timing and conclusion, I intend to enhance this for other chemical contaminants in water such as mercury, arsenic and cadmium.

Since then, Gitanjali has continued development of her creation; you can read more about her here and see why Time chose her for :Kid of the Year”:


RMCAVS Symposium 2018

2018 Rocky Mountain AVS Symposium  Sept 11 -14

RMCAVS Symposium 2017

2017 Rocky Mountain AVS Symposium  Sept 19-22

RMCAVS Symposium 2016


14 Billion Year History of the Universe Leading to Materials Science

RMCAVS Symposium 2015

Symposium Poster Winners

Speciation and Reactivity of Organic Matter in Uranium Mine Wastes from Laguna- New Mexico: An Application of Surface Sciences in Environmental Systems, Carmen A. Velasco, Abdul-Mehdi Ali, Christopher Osburn, Kateryna Artyushkova, José M. Cerrato

Effect of bicarbonate and phosphate on arsenic release from mining-impacted sediments in Cheyenne River (watershed), South Dakota, Cherie L. DeVore, Lucia Rodriguez-Freire, Abdul Mehdi-Ali, Carlyle Ducheneaux, Kateryna Artyushkova, Zhe Zhou, Drew E. Latta, Virgil W. Lueth, Melissa Gonzales, Johnnye Lewis, and José M. Cerrato

Characterization of extended surface catalysts for optimization of performance in polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells, Sarah Zaccarine, Chilan Ngo, Sarah Shulda, Svitlana Pylypenko, Colorado School of Mines Scott Mauger, Shaun Alia, K.C. Neyerlin, Bryan Pivovar, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Colorado Association of Science Teachers (CAST) Teacher Awards

The American Vacuum Society also sponsors an award for Excellence in Science Teaching in the state of Colorado.  The award is presented each year at the Colorado Science Conference, in November, in the amount of $500.  You do not need to be a CAST member to receive the AVS award.  To be eligible, you must be currently teaching science in a Colorado school.

Deadline for submission is by September 30, 2019.

To nominate yourself or another individual, please click on the link below or submit the application as indicated on the file below.

AVS Excellence in Science Teaching Online Application

Download AVS Excellence in Science Teaching Application

Learn more about CAST 

CONGRATULATIONS to Sandy Lamb – awarded the 2018 American Vacuum Society’s Excellence in Teaching Award – Informal
CONGRATULATIONS to Nadene Klein – awarded the 2018 American Vacuum Society’s Excellence in Teaching Award – Secondary
CONGRATULATIONS to Jennifer Christianson – awarded the 2018 American Vacuum Society’s Excellence in Teaching Award – Elementary