The week of October 19th, students may have noticed other students in the hallways with lollipops in their mouths. This was not because they had achieved high scores on a test, but rather because that particular week was National Chemistry Week (NCW).
National Chemistry Week is a program organized by the American Chemical Society (ACS) that prompts schools, local businesses, and individual people to organize activities about chemistry. NCW was created in order to raise awareness in communities about the importance of chemistry in our everyday lives. The American Chemical Society also hopes to inspire children to pursue a future in the chemical field.
This year’s Chemistry Week was deemed “The Sweet Side of Chemistry: Candy;” hence, the lollipops. Every year that NCW is held, it has a particular theme that organizers work with. However, NCW was not always an annual event as it is now. In 1987, the first year the event was held, it lasted a day rather than a week. This day was called National Chemical Day, and the ACS organized a parade through Washington D.C. By 1989, however, the program grew into a weeklong event that was only held every other year. Finally, in 1993, National Chemistry became a yearly celebration.
Is NCW accomplishing its mission? Though some may remain adamant in their passion for other subjects, or maybe even harbor hate towards chemistry, the growth of NCW over the years proves that chemistry is growing increasingly popular to people all over the country. In fact, in 1988, National Chemical Day was so popular amongst citizens that it was awarded the Public Relations Society of America Silver Anvil, the highest honor for excellence in public relations.
Ultimately, the ACS hopes to make chemistry more popular and to help the public see chemistry in a more positive light. NCW is not trying to make people like chemistry. Instead, the ACS is trying to help people realize that chemistry is not just something magical that happens in laboratories at MIT, but also a practical form of science that can be used to solve societal problems and improve all of our lives.