National Chemistry Week (NCW) is a public awareness campaign that promotes the value of chemistry in everyday life. ACS members and chemistry enthusiasts celebrate NCW by coordinating events and communicating the importance of chemistry. Each year the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) NCW campaign reaches millions of people with positive messages about the contributions of chemistry to their daily lives. NCW is a community-based annual event that unites ACS local sections, businesses, schools, and individuals in communicating the importance of chemistry to our quality of life. It is the one time during the year that chemists, regardless of background, unite with the common goal of spreading the word that chemistry is good for our economy, our health and our well-being.
This year, we will celebrate NCW October 17-23, 2021 with the theme of “Fast or Slow … Chemistry Makes It Go!” Everything around us is made of molecules, including the air we breathe, the objects we touch, and the bodies we use to run, learn, and laugh. Molecules are very small and can’t be seen with the naked eye, but they are very important! Every molecule is made of two or more atoms, which are the building blocks of matter, like the individual bricks in a Lego sculpture. Molecules are in constant motion at all times. When they’re in a solid phase, they vibrate against each other. When they’re in a liquid phase, they slide past each other. And when they’re in a gas phase, they are very spread out. Chemistry is the study of these atoms and molecules, their properties, and their changes. Molecules can change into other molecules as they go through chemical reactions, which happen when molecules break the chemical bonds that hold them together or combine to make new bonds with other molecules, forming new molecules. The starting substances in a reaction are the reactants, and the substances produced at the end of a reaction are called products. Some chemical reactions are so slow that you can’t observe a change right away (such as the formation of rust on a piece of metal), and others are so fast that you might miss them if you blink (like when a firecracker pops).
To find out more about what kind of things cause chemical reactions or what makes them go fast or slow can be found in this year’s issue of Celebrating Chemistry. The electronic version of the Celebrating Chemistry Newsletter is available from the ACS website (www.acs.org/ncw).
This year, CSW is planning on having some in person events for NCW as well as some virtual events.
More information about local activities will be posted on the CSW website (www.capitalchemist.org) as they become available. For further information, or to volunteer, contact the CSW NCW coordinator via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.