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Local sections participate in Chemists Celebrate Earth Week 2022

Chemists engaged the public in a week of events on insect chemistry

by Nina Notman, special to C&EN
June 25, 2022 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 100, Issue 23


From April 17 to 23, American Chemical Society members from 83 local sections and two international chemical science chapters engaged the public in hands-on activities and demonstrations as part of Chemists Celebrate Earth Week (CCEW).

This year’s theme was “The Buzz about Bugs: Insect Chemistry.” Thousands of people took part in these events at parks, at schools, at shopping malls, at libraries, at other public venues, and online.

“We had people holding live bugs, looking at molecular models of the chemical components of bugs, using dried bugs as acid-base indicators, and participating in many other creative and fun activities,” says Lori R. Stepan, chair of the Committee on Community Activities, which coordinates CCEW in collaboration with the ACS Office of Science Outreach.

Free CCEW resources provided by ACS include the magazine Celebrating Chemistry, published in English and Spanish, and 59,000 print copies were distributed this year. ACS also sponsors an illustrated poem contest for K–12 students.

The following are highlights of the 2022 celebrations:

In the Brazil International Chemical Sciences Chapter, the Federal University of Ceará student chapter hosted a symposium with presentations on topics such as the chemical language of insects and edible bugs.

The Central Wisconsin Local Section treated over 60 participants to demonstrations and hands-on activities during the Wisconsin Science Olympiad tournament at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point.

The Georgia Local Section conducted a month-long outreach program at public parks, a museum, multiple schools, and Georgia Gwinnett College.

A group of people stood behind a table containing resources.
Credit: Ajay Mallia
Georgia Local Section volunteers distributed free resources during a month-long program of events. Volunteers show off the magazine Celebrating Chemistry at Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center.

The Greater Houston Local Section exhibited at Earth Day Houston, held at Discovery Green park. Visitors observed live superworms and learned about their ability to digest plastic.

The Kansas City Local Section entertained nearly 450 children in its mobile lab at Kauffman Stadium. Activities included studying insects, mammals, and plants under the microscope.

The Malaysia International Chemical Sciences Chapter held a virtual talk on Earth Day for ACS members and the public. It also hosted a video competition for student chapters.

The Maryland Local Section hosted activities at 11 libraries in four counties. Activities included exploring how insects use acids to defend themselves against predators.

Volunteers at the Memphis Local Section organized hands-on experiments at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library. Participants learned about water filtration, water testing, and the unique properties of honey.

The Midland Local Section cosponsored an Earth Day Action Expo at Dow High School, which featured around 45 exhibitors, including a wastewater treatment plant, energy companies, recyclers, and ecofriendly businesses.

A child sits inside the cab of a water-treatment plant's truck.
Credit: Cyndie Roberts
The Midland Local Section coordinated an Earth Day Action Expo. A local waste-water-treatment plant truck was among the event’s exhibitors.

The Nebraska Local Section and Omaha Local Section partnered with the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum to combine hands-on science activities with a Mad Hatters Tea Party theme. Over 2,850 visitors attended this event.

The New York Local Section planned a self-guided hike at Jones Beach State Park, a tour of the energy and nature center, and a raffle.

A large group of people sit together on outdoor stairs. Three people hold a banner showing Pace Chemistry
Credit: JaimeLee I. Rizzo
Visitors to the Jones Beach State Park took part in a hike planned by the New York Local Section.

The Northeastern Local Section supported the two-day “Rise Up Boston: A Climate Event” at the Museum of Science in Boston. ACS volunteers engaged about 300 visitors in hands-on activities and gave out wildflower seeds to raise awareness about No Mow May.

Three persons stand next to a poster holding flyers and boxes of seeds.

Credit: Jayashree Ranga
Volunteers from the Northeastern Local Section encouraged visitors to the Museum of Science in Boston to allow flowers to bloom on their lawns, and provide vital nectar for pollinators.

The Northeast Tennessee Local Section entertained Girl Scouts at East Tennessee State University with activities such as preparing red dye from crushed cochineal beetles and painting plaster casts of trilobites.

Two children look into microscopes.
Credit: Angelina Carney
Girl Scouts hunted for bugs in amber using microscopes with the help of volunteers from the Northeast Tennessee Local Section.

The Northeast Wisconsin Local Section hosted an event at Oshkosh Public Library. Activities included making seed paper to grow plants that attract beneficial insects.


The Orlando Local Section and the Florida Local Section participated in the Central Florida Earth Day celebration at Lake Eola. ACS volunteers entertained more than 150 children with activities, including creating chromatography butterflies with coffee filters, water, and marker pens.

The Permian Basin Local Section was one of six local sections and student chapters to be visited by ACS president Angela Wilson during her CCEW virtual tour. The visits included a 6 min video tour of the Michigan State University Bug House.

Volunteers from the Puerto Rico Local Section engaged visitors in hands-on activities at its annual Festival de Química in San Juan.

A larger goup of people in matching T-shirts sit outside the Puerto Rico Tourism Company building.
Credit: Marie Rolon
Volunteers from the Puerto Rico Local Section hosted its annual Festival de Química celebration.

The Southern Arizona Local Section exhibited at the Earth Day Festival at the Children’s Museum Tucson, and the event had over 2,700 attendees. Activities included surface tension boats propelled by isopropyl alcohol.

In the South Florida Local Section, the Barry University student chapter participated in the university’s annual Earth Day Carnival. Students shared information about global warming and ocean acidification.

The Virginia Local Section hosted hands-on activities for over 700 children at the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond. They ate chocolate-covered crickets and larvae, used slime to learn about slug mucus, and much more.

A tabletop display of foods made from edible insects.
Credit: Kristine Smetana
Kids learned about edible bugs and tasted chocolate-covered crickets and larvae at the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond thanks to the efforts of volunteers from the Virginia Local Section.

The Wyoming Local Section toured local schools to discuss the role bugs play in agriculture, food, and ecosystems. Demonstrations included how pH affects the properties of dyes made from crushed insects.

The 2023 CCEW will take place April 16–22 with the theme “The Curious Chemistry of Amazing Algae.” Volunteers are invited to participate in ACS’s Outreach Training Program for help planning and running CCEW and other outreach events. For more information, visit

Earth Day poetry

The ACS Committee on Community Activities and the ACS Office of Science Outreach have announced the winners of the 2022 Chemists Celebrate Earth Week Illustrated Poem Contest, in which K–12 students were invited to share their interpretation of this year’s theme, “The Buzz about Bugs: Insect Chemistry,” in the form of illustrated poems. First-place winners in each grade category received $300. Second-place winners received $150.

K–2nd grade

First place: Siyona Dharker, Chemical Society of Washington

A poem called Bug Power is accompanied by an illustration of the Earth and children.
Credit: Siyona Dharker

Second place: Supriti Prasanna, Puget Sound Local Section


3rd–5th grades

First place: Analise Smellings, Connecticut Valley Local Section

A brief poem about dye made from bugs is accompanied by an illustration of Yoplait yogurt and a beetle.
Credit: Analise Smellings

Second place: Renee Liu, South Florida Local Section


6th–8th grades

First place: Emma Huang, Midland Local Section

A poem called Glowing Miracles is accompanied by illustrations of fireflies and the structures of ATP and luciferin.
Credit: Emma Huang

Second place: Raeanne Li, Silicon Valley Local Section


9th–12th grades

First place: Kerrigan McManus, Kentucky Lake Local Section

A poem called preserving pollinators is accompanied by illustrations of flowers and pollinating insects.
Credit: Kerrigan McManus

Second place: Thomas Phillips, Pittsburgh Local Section


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