Celebrate Chemistry in October

by Kim Moldofsky, The Maker Mom

There’s always something to celebrate when it comes to science and October is no exception. In fact, we’re just a couple of weeks away from National Chemistry Week, October 18-24, 2015. We know that an understanding of chemistry will help students have bright futures. This knowledge dovetails nicely with this year’s theme, Chemistry Colors Our World. The theme is meant to shine a light on the chemistry of food colorings, fireworks, and more.

The American Chemical Society has ideas to help teachers and parents explore the chemistry of dyes, pigments, and light. Many of the free ACS publications are available in both Spanish and English.

Use the event locator to see if any museums, libraries, or businesses in your area plan to offer special programs in honor of NCW.

Colorful Chemistry

Glow sticks bring the concept of chemiluminescence to life. With Halloween approaching, they’re for sale at many stores. In this video, Steve Spangler shares the chemistry behind the sticks. Additionally, the ACS shares several demonstrations and activities that use light sticks and other materials to build an understanding of chemiluminescence.

Color on the Nanoscale

When things get small- really, really small- they exhibit unexpected properties. For example, nanoparticles of gold don’t appear golden at all. They either appear green or red, depending on their size. The Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network has resources and experiment outlines (in English and Spanish) that are aligned with this year’s National Chemistry Week theme that are available as free downloads on their site.

No time for a full lesson?

How about doing a demo a day for Chemistry Week? Here are five quick and easy chemistry demonstrations to get your students talking.

  1. Duct tape triboluminescence
  2. Make a “white” color wheel to show the class or have students color their own. Or make a Benham’s disk demo, where black and white seem to morph into colors. 
  3. Incandescence and the science of glow sticks.
  4. Squeeze in this brief video exploring the nanostructures that create the Blue Morpho Butterfly’s captivating colors.         
  5. Use light to uncover a secret message.

If your lessons plans are already filled when it comes to light and color, look back at last year’s National Chemistry Week for some ways to sweeten your science class during National Chemistry Week. 

If you have any special lessons in store for National Chemistry week, please share them on our Facebook page!