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Engage in Chemists Celebrate Earth Week

by Holly Davis, Chair ACS Committee on Community Activities
April 4, 2021 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 99, Issue 12


Photo of Holly Davis.
Credit: Courtesy of Holly Davis
Holly Davis

Roughly 1 year has passed since my previous Comment in C&EN. While the COVID-19 pandemic in the US and throughout much of the world remains dire, I have been inspired by the dedication of our chemists who have kept working with their communities in safe, mostly virtual ways. This work continues with the Committee on Community Activities’ third all-virtual campaign, Chemists Celebrate Earth Week (CCEW). The celebration will run April 18–24 with the theme “Reducing Our Footprint with Chemistry.” Resources launched on the CCEW website Feb. 1.

I encourage all local sections, international chemical sciences chapters, and student groups to celebrate this annual campaign that highlights the role that chemistry plays in protecting our planet. I would like to thank the 100 coordinators, who, as of early March, have already stepped up to lead activities in their local communities. I encourage all individuals to think of ways they can observe Earth Day on April 22 and throughout CCEW this year. Your participation can be as simple as sharing CCEW resources—available for kids and adults—and updating your profiles on social media to mention CCEW. You could also host an event featuring virtual demonstrations. Local sections are hosting digital Illustrated Poem Contests for our youngest community members, and you can partner with local teachers to plan virtual classroom visits. Consider virtual science cafés as a way to engage adults. For more inspiration, visit the CCEW and National Chemistry Week Facebook pages and see what people did last year for Earth Day’s 50th anniversary and for National Chemistry Week (NCW) 2020.

CCEW 2020 and NCW 2020 both had increased digital engagement, and we hope to continue that trend this year. Notably, the publication Celebrating Chemistry is now offered in print, as a downloadable file, and as a searchable series of web pages. These platforms make the publication more accessible and easy to find using search engines. This change, along with some digital aspects of the Illustrated Poem Contests, will be carried forward to our postpandemic world.

I have been inspired by the dedication of our chemists who have kept working with their communities in safe, mostly virtual ways.

While we were unable to organize a presidential outreach event for the American Chemical Society Spring 2020 meeting, we organized a Virtual ACS Kids Zone event featuring four hands-on activities during ACS Fall 2020. The first hour was hosted in English, and the second, in Spanish. A recorded video allowed for social media engagement between the audience and presenters in real time. Handouts describing how to perform each of the activities and recordings of the event are available at This was a truly global event, with presenters from around the world. The presentation would not have been possible without ACS Webinars; our moderator, Bibiana Campos Seijo (C&EN’s editor in chief); volunteers from the Committee on Community Activities; and our volunteer presenters. Our lineup even included Miss America 2020, Camille Schrier! Our other presenters were Darryl Boyd of the US Naval Research Laboratory, Carolina Lizarazo Castillo of the University of the Andes, Mollie Enright of Beyond Benign, Jonte Lee of the District of Columbia Public Schools, ACS Board member Ingrid Montes, Fiorella Olivera-Venturo of Cayetano Heredia Peruvian University, and Rafael Vásquez of Florida State University–Panama. The Committee on Community Activities looks forward to organizing a Virtual Kids Zone event on Earth Day, April 22, from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. (EDT), as part of ACS Spring 2021. Participate at

This year’s edition of Celebrating Chemistry is truly a feat of writing. I would like to thank all the ACS volunteers and members of the Committee on Community Activities who worked to create this resource, which is filled with safety-vetted activities that children aged 9–12 can do at home with their families. Be sure to check out some of the fun activities, like “Shrink Your Footprint with Shrinky Dinks,” “Find the Footprint of Your Favorite Snacks,” and “Be Cool . . . with Insulation.” These and more resources can be found in the latest issue of Celebrating Chemistry, available at

I had hoped that my last year as chair of the Committee on Community Activities would welcome a return to in-person outreach events. While this is not possible for CCEW, I am holding out hope for NCW 2021. Even if the pandemic is still with us in October, I am confident that our volunteers all around the globe will continue to communicate chemistry’s value to the public. I encourage each of you to consider how you can reduce waste, reuse or recycle materials in your home or office, and change behaviors to reduce your footprint and impact on the planet. Pick up a few ideas and explore more resources related to green chemistry, the Earth Day Network, and environmental chemistry, including videos and the latest scientific news, at

The committee welcomes participation of any ACS member on NCW and CCEW Theme Teams for 2021 and beyond. To volunteer on a theme team or to learn more about ACS’s public outreach programs, visit, email, or call 800-227-5558.

Views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of C&EN or ACS.


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