Not Part of Generation Sputnik? What’s Your Chemistry Set?

C&EN's managing editor, Robin Giroux, sent around the following email to the staff (shared with her permission):
Folks, If you were drawn to science/chemistry when you were young, and you’re not one of the Sputnik generation (like I am), what was that intrigued you? What drew you in? For my generation, the response is a resounding, “I had a chemistry set.” (And if you don’t believe me, read just the Feb. 10 ACS National Award vignettes!) That made me wonder, was there a “chemistry set” for younger generations? If so, what? So I’m asking the question of you – and feel free to ask others outside of C&EN – but I need to hear from you by next Tuesday (Feb. 11). And tell me, if you will, how old you are, you can use “–ish”. (I won’t share, I won’t laugh, but I may be amazed :)) Thanks!
So I'm asking others outside of C&EN - what intrigued you and drew you into chemistry? Share in the comments below or send a note to Robin at r_giroux at For me (Yes, yes -- I know I'm not a proper chemist, but I'll still share), it was the hands-on experiments in my high school chemistry classes.

Author: Rachel Pepling

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  1. I remember thinking to myself, “I want to be a scientist.” This was around 1970. Because of Sputnik, science education was increased in schools, not to mention the Apollo program was going strong at that time. Later I thought I wanted to be a doctor and started pre-med classes in college. But I gravitated to Chemistry partially because I was losing interest in the Biology classes and also because I had some instructors who encouraged me to go for Chemistry. Some of the professors still did not treat women students well even in the early 1980’s, but the department chair made a point of encouraging all people who declared Chemistry as their major.