From April 16 to 22, American Chemical Society members from 96 local sections and four international chemical science chapters coordinated events for Chemists Celebrate Earth Week (CCEW).
This year’s theme was “The Curious Chemistry of Amazing Algae.” Thousands of people took part in hands-on activities or watched demonstrations at museums, parks, schools, libraries, and other public venues, as well as online.
“Our CCEW celebration this year has been a big success. Groups all over the world explored the chemistry of algae, including its properties as an edible and nutritious plant, and its role in providing food, habitat, and oxygen in a healthy ecosystem,” 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. This year, 46,750 copies in English and 3,550 copies in Spanish were distributed. ACS also sponsored an illustrated poem contest for K–12 students.
The following are highlights of the 2023 celebrations:
The Binghamton Local Section partnered with Binghamton University to organize a booth with hands-on demonstrations at the annual Earth Day Festival in Recreation Park.
The California Section hosted booths at North Bay Science Discovery Day at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds and an Earth Day celebration at the John Muir National Historic Site.
The Central Arkansas Local Section hosted an online talk by member Felicia Osburn on freshwater phytoplankton and their role in aquatic ecosystems for 37 attendees.
The Central Massachusetts Local Section and the Northeastern Massachusetts Section organized hands-on algae-themed activities for more than 200 children at the Discovery Museum in Acton.
The Central Wisconsin Local Section hosted a public talk about nitrate fertilizer and algae blooms by Kevin Masarik, a local groundwater education specialist.
The Chemical Society of Washington supported Rockville Science Day at Montgomery College. Approximately 100 exhibitors engaged more than 3,500 visitors in interactive science exhibits, games, and demonstrations.
The Eastern New York Section organized an event in the Armory Shed at Russell Sage College with demonstrations on algae’s uses and explanations of water testing analysis.
The Erie Local Section partnered with a local university to provide hands-on activities on the chemistry of algae to 42 K–9 students at an after-school care facility in a low-income area.
Volunteers from the Georgia Section organized about 20 hours of outreach activities on the chemistry of algae at the Fernbank Science Center and multiple K–12 institutions.
On behalf of the Green Mountain Local Section, two undergraduate students at Landmark College produced a 4 min video describing the differences between shelf-stable and refrigerated gel-based snacks. The students also created an in-person demonstration of the activity for a Chemistry of Magic class. The video was disseminated on social media platforms and to the college as a whole through the Daily Digest.
The Kansas City Section ran a Save Mother Earth afternoon in collaboration with teachers of grades K–6 at Pershing Elementary School. Students created solar cars and buggies and helped with gardening.
The Lehigh Valley Section and the Division of Environmental Chemistry coordinated an Earth Day Symposium for the public at Cedar Crest College. The section also hosted a community outreach event for about 75 children.
The Mark Twain Local Section organized a community cleanup with a local Scout group.
The Maryland Local Section held 13 1-hour, hands-on programs in public libraries in five Maryland counties.
The Mid-Hudson Section hosted an Earth Day hike at Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park. Participants trekked 4.5 miles while observing Thomas Edison’s field laboratories, iron mines, and newly sprung spring flora.
The Midland and Permian Basin Sections cosponsored an Earth Day Action Expo at Dow High School with around 60 exhibitors. ACS volunteers ran hands-on activities on photosynthetic pigments and the algae polymers alginate and carrageenan.
The Nashville Local Section and the Tennessee Tech University student chapter organized hands-on activities during Nashville Earth Day.
The New Jersey Section hosted an event at the Meadowlands Environment Center with demonstrations and activities on the chemistry of algae. Sue Lewicki, the center’s educator, also gave an interactive talk.
The New York Local Section coorganized a Chemists Celebrate Earth Week event at the Jones Beach Energy and Nature Center for over 100 attendees.
Northeastern Section coorganized an event with Salem University and the Museum of Science in which visitors participated in hands-on activities during the 2-day “Rise Up Boston: A Climate Event”.
The Northeastern Wisconsin Local Section held activity-station events on Earth Day at the Oshkosh Public Library, the Neenah Public Library, and the Atlas Science Center. Activities included making worms using sodium alginate and taking pictures of algae through microscopes.
The Northern New York Section’s Dana M. Barry visited local schools to talk about algae used in foods, demonstrate algae bioluminescence using glow sticks, help students carry out algae-themed experiments, and distribute CCEW resources.
The Omaha Local Section hosted a booth at NE SciFest Public Expo at the Durham Museum. Over 700 visitors were engaged in activities that included using alginate beads to encapsulate food coloring and fluorescence to look for chlorophyll in algae.
The Ouachita Valley Local Section visited Lake Hamilton High School to run a hands-on demonstration of fruit juice titration.
The Pittsburgh Local Section sent 100 experiment kits to teachers and parents in their local area. The kits contained materials for using ultraviolet (UV) flashlights to search for chlorophyll in algae.
Volunteers from the Puerto Rico Section engaged visitors in hands-on activities at its annual Festival de Química in San Juan; more than 1,500 people attended.
Puget Sound Section volunteers used sodium alginate to demonstrate the chemistry of algae during an Earth Day event at McKenny Elementary School.
The Richland Local Section conducted hands-on activities at a local library and at the Reach Museum.
The Sacramento Local Section ran hands-on activities at the Sacramento Earth Day Event. Attendees performed an experiment with Jell-O and used UV flashlights to search for chlorophyll in food color, algae, and kale mixtures.
The South Central Missouri Local Section participated in an Earth Day event at the Missouri University of Science and Technology.
The Southern Arizona Section ran experiments at an Earth Day Festival at Armory Park that included making alginate worms and bracelets with UV-sensitive beads.
The Southern Nevada Local Section partnered with the Discovery Children’s Museum in Las Vegas to welcome over 150 children participating in activities coordinated by ACS volunteers.
The South Florida Local Section hosted outreach activities at the Museum of Discovery and Science that included using microscopes to compare red and green algae and algae trivia.
The Tennessee-Virginia Highlands Section helped local Girl Scouts make alginate worms and hunt for chlorophyll in algae using fluorescence.
CCEW 2024 will take place April 21–27 with the theme “Get a Charge Out of Chemistry.” Information on how to get involved in CCEW can be found at www.acs.org/ccew.
As part of 2023 Chemists Celebrate Earth Week, K–12 students were invited to enter an illustrated poem contest on the theme, “The Curious Chemistry of Amazing Algae.” The ACS Committee on Community Activities and the ACS Office of Science Outreach coordinated this contest; first place in each grade category received $300, and second place received $150.
K to 2nd grade
First place: Adelyn M., Kentucky Lake Local Section
Second place: Dishika K., Virginia Section
3rd to 5th grade
First place: Katherine F., Central Texas Local Section
Second place: Gabriella C., Maryland Local Section
6th to 8th grade
First place: Akshara K., Chicago Local Section
Second place: Raenne L., Silicon Valley Local Section
9th to 12th grade
First place: Louis H., Midland Local Section
Second place: Zoe P., Mid-Hudson Section.