From Oct. 16 to 22, American Chemical Society members from 108 local sections and two international chemical science chapters engaged the public in hands-on activities and demonstrations as part of National Chemistry Week (NCW).
The 2022 theme was “Fabulous Fibers: The Chemistry of Fabrics.” Thousands of people participated in these events in schools, universities, malls, museums, libraries, zoos, and other public spaces.
“Chemists celebrated National Chemistry Week last fall in so many different ways, with people of all ages,” says Lori Stepan, chair of the ACS Committee on Community Activities. “It was so exciting to see people coming together to learn more about chemistry and to share a love of science.”
Free NCW resources provided by ACS included the magazine Celebrating Chemistry: 64,750 print copies in English and 9,800 in Spanish were distributed at last year’s NCW events.
The NCW illustrated poem contest received 80 entries from local sections, from which 8 first- and second-place winners were chosen (see box on page 34).
The following are highlights of the 2022 celebrations:
The Central Wisconsin Local Section supported hands-on activities at the Boys and Girls Club. The program included activities investigating chromatography on handkerchiefs and how to strengthen a cotton ball.
The Chemical Society of Washington Local Section created an outdoor spooky science expo that attracted more than 150 attendees.
The East Tennessee Local Section ran several public events that were covered by local newspapers as well as radio and TV stations.
The Eastern New York Local Section hosted hands-on demonstrations and activities for the public at a local shopping mall. This event was supported by 80 volunteers from 12 local organizations.
The Maryland Local Section hosted 10 one-hour classes in local public libraries for kindergartners through adults. The sessions included hands-on activities related to fabric structure and wettability, as well as dyeing multifabric strips with Kool-Aid and dye mixes.
The Memphis Local Section supported the Museum of Science and History’s STEAMFest event. More than 550 children participated in hands-on experiments organized by 17 local section volunteers. The experiments related to fabrics, polymers, and bubbles.
The Middle Georgia Local Section hosted an event that included a black-light maze, chemistry magic shows, planetarium shows, and hands-on activities such as testing the static electricity of fabrics and racing boats with sails made from various fabrics.
The Midland Local Section organized an event at a local mall with demonstrations and hands-on activities, including making slime, admiring dry ice bubbles, and experiencing magic sand.
In the Nashville Local Section, volunteers conducted fabric demonstrations, handed out ice cream made in liquid nitrogen, and ran a seminar at White Bluff Elementary School.
The Nigeria International Chemical Sciences Chapter held a virtual seminar with keynote speaker Sani Muhammad Gumel, a polymer and color chemistry professor at Bayero University, and the presentation of an award to its best student chapter.
The North Jersey Local Section cohosted the 28th annual ChemExpo at Liberty Science Center. More than 1,500 visitors participated in activities and demonstrations related to the chemistry of fabrics.
The Northeast Wisconsin Local Section planned a series of activities in collaboration with various community organizations. These included distributing copies of Celebrating Chemistry to local schools and running hands-on activities for the public at the Oshkosh Public Library and the Atlas Science Center.
The Northern New York Local Section’s Dana M. Barry talked to hundreds of students in northern New York schools about the chemistry of fabrics and fibers. At one school, she helped sixth-grade science students dye wool using Kool-Aid.
The Orange County Local Section activities included a science show and outreach activities with more than 400 students at the Santa Ana Zoo.
The Pensacola Local Section partnered with the University of West Florida Chemistry Club to host a tie-dye T-shirt event for students.
The Pittsburgh Local Section invited 48 students from two high schools to the Carnegie Science Center to learn about acids and bases. Nine student chapters from the region assembled and mailed 100 science kits to local school districts.
In the Puerto Rico Local Section, more than 200 volunteers helped host approximately 12,000 visitors at San Juan’s annual Festival de Química. Student chapters and chemistry clubs visited schools for hands-on activities to celebrate Mole Day.
The Savannah River Local Section hosted a booth at a science fair at the University of South Carolina Aiken. Visitors explored marker chromatography and watched volunteers prepare natural red dye from cochineal bugs and perform a trick with nylon rope.
The South Florida Local Section and local student chapters ran hands-on activities at the Museum of Discovery and Science and the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science. Experiments included exploring the water absorbency of fabrics and dyeing doilies with natural dyes such as spirulina, beets, and turmeric.
The Southwest Georgia Local Section organized hands-on activities for the public at a local library. Valdosta State University’s Chemistry Department engaged more than 400 people in 20 interactive activities and demonstrations made possible by more than 125 volunteers.
The Upper Ohio Valley Local Section held two chemical magic shows at Marietta College. Sixty elementary school students and their families attended.
The Western Michigan Local Section hosted activity stations and demonstrations for the public at a local mall.
The 2023 NCW will take place Oct. 15–21 with the theme “The Healing Power of Chemistry.” Coordinators are invited to visit the NCW website at www.acs.org/ncw to assist with planning and coordinating NCW and other outreach events.
Nina Notman is a freelance writer based in the UK.
As part of the 2022 National Chemistry Week, K–12 students were invited to submit illustrated poems on the theme: “Fabulous Fibers: The Chemistry of Fabrics.” The ACS Committee on Community Activities and the ACS Office of Science Outreach have announced the winners of the contest. View the winning illustrated poems at www.acs.org/ncw.