"Enduring Voice" award
VOICES salutes Michael Offutt as the inaugural winner of the Enduring Voice award for excellence in teaching STEM through music! Below is a biography of Michael, as compiled by VOICES organizing committee member Walter Smith.
Michael Offutt taught high school chemistry for 32 years. He has published seven albums of original science songs, mostly about chemistry and physics, starting in 1991 with "The Chemistry Songbag." Many teachers, from grade school through college, have contacted him to let him know how valuable his songs have been. His songs have been used by countless students for science project videos on YouTube, often with his permission. His biggest YouTube hit is "The Atom Song," with video made by a student; it has more than half a million views. For more than 25 years, Michael presented his original science demonstration program at schools, libraries, and theater venues all over the country, including the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., the Museum of Science and Industry, and the Field Museum in Chicago. Speaking of Chicago, Michael was on the Bozo Show doing both science and musical presentations. In addition to other awards, he is a recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Math Teaching. He has been called the “Minstrel of Science” by the Chicago Tribune, and “America’s Chem Singer” by the National Mole Day Foundation. For the past 26 years, Michael has written and recorded the official song for Mole Day (celebrated annually starting at 6:02am on October 23). The National Mole Day Foundation awarded him the title of "Mole of the Year" at the 2017 ChemEd Conference at South Dakota State University. He is currently working on many new science songs as well as singing and playing the tenor banjo for his Irish band, "The Ragged Rascals."
Below is a (slightly out-of-date) picture of Michael, along with his "Enduring Voice" certificate and trophy, a custom-built microphone made out of Legos!
Fellow chemistry educator Lynda Jones Blodgett adds: “Mike Offutt is a very dedicated and creative high school chemistry instructor. He is also a good person and a faithful friend. For most of his life, he taught in the Chicago area of Illinois and has dedicated himself to the promotion and popularizing of the study of chemistry. He has delighted his students, as well as other audiences, both at schools and at science teacher conferences, by playing his banjo and singing his original chemistry songs from his two albums, Chemistry Songbag I and Chemistry Songbag II, as well as from his Celebrate the Molennium album, created for the National Mole Day Foundation. In his own classroom he has always delighted his students with his teaching and singing. He is very well loved and well remembered.”