A Message From Our Executive Director: COVID-19 Update

Thank you so much for your patience and understanding as we have continued to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on CEF’s programs over the last few weeks. As always, the health and safety of our teachers, students, volunteers, and other program participants remains a top priority.

More than 36,000 students from 451 schools participated in the Challenge this year, with 70 Regional Challenge events taking place across the country. The new team-based format allowed students to collaborate to explore science concepts, mirroring the nature of today’s workplaces. We are so proud of all the accomplishments made by You Be The Chemist Challenge® participants this year, and are so grateful to our School Coordinators, Challenge Organizers, and other volunteers who make the Challenge possible. We encourage Challenge participants to take the knowledge they gained this year and use it to further pursue scientific interests and to better their own communities.

In light of recent news and predictions about school and workplace closures, we have made the difficult decision to end this year’s Challenge cycle. To recognize the success and hard work of the regional-level winning teams, we will post a list of all the schools with teams that won on the CEF website by May 1. Schools with the team that scored highest in each state will also be recognized on the website and will receive a “State Champion” plaque. CEF staff will be in touch with School Coordinators to discuss plaque distribution.

Regarding Essential Elements, all workshops are suspended through June 30. Correspondence related to workshops taking place during the 2020-2021 school year should take place at the discretion of Certified Instructors. We anticipate schools opening for the 2020-2021 school year on time, with students attending in-person. Certified Instructors should reach out to their contacts and schedule workshops taking place next school year using the same outreach timeline they normally would. Certified Instructors who have questions about a specific area or encounter issues with scheduling due to COVID-19 should email Joseph Gusman at jgusman@chemed.org for assistance.

Additionally, please feel free to share our Activity Guide resources with those in your community – these resources are roadmaps for more than 50 hands-on science activities that can be done with household materials. The Activity Guides are available for free on our website thanks to our generous donors and supporters. We are also posting videos to our website and social media channels that explain how to do our Activity Guides at home.

We will continue to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation and will let you know of any updates to this direction. Thank you for your dedication to CEF and our programs – we are so grateful for your ongoing support, particularly during this difficult time.


Dwayne Sattler
Executive Director