Celebrating the Silver Anniversary of National Chemistry Week

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PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 20, 2012 — The event that has introduced hundreds of thousands of young people to the wonders of science ― and helped launch careers in science, technology, engineering, medicine and other fields ― is being honored at a special symposium here today. The observance of the 25th anniversary of National Chemistry Week (NCW) takes place during the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society.

Thousands of ACS volunteers, teachers and students celebrate NCW in their communities and schools during the fourth week of every October. They organize hands-on activities and demonstrations at malls, museums, schools, stores and other locations all over the United States.

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The events have included hands-on activity events in libraries, elementary and secondary school classrooms, malls, museums of science, children’s museums, colleges and universities, state fairs, etc.

NCW 2012, with the theme “Nanotechnology: The Smallest Big Idea in Science,” will be held Oct. 21-27. The program is a community-based effort sponsored by the ACS and designed to promote awareness of the value of chemistry in people’s everyday lives. NCW brings chemists together with students, teachers, business leaders and other people through hands-on science events, chemistry, public lectures, demonstrations and other events.

“The demonstrations, hands-on-activities and other events in National Chemistry Week have introduced thousands of young people to one of the biggest secrets about science,” said ACS President Bassam Z. Shakhashiri, Ph.D. “Science is fun. By demonstrating how much fun science can be, National Chemistry Week has been an advocate for science, and imparts the joy of discovery that has engaged young minds and fostered careers in science, mathematics and technology for 25 years. ACS promotes public engagement by its members to share the joy of scientific exploration and the emotional rewards of discovery. The speakers in this symposium are exemplars of communicating that excitement to the public.”

The symposium is one of Shakhashiri’s special presidential events. A professor of chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Shakhashiri’s own chemistry demonstrations are world-renowned, and he is co-author of textbooks on the topic.

NCW began as National Chemistry Day (NCD) in 1987 after the ACS Board of Directors embraced the idea suggested in 1986 by the late George C. Pimentel, Ph.D., then ACS president. His widow, Jeanne Pimentel, will be among the speakers in today’s symposium. A parade in downtown Washington, D.C., helped kicked off the events with 173 out of 182 ACS local sections participating in their communities. The event was so well-received by the general public that in 1988 the Public Relations Society of America awarded its Silver Anvil to NCD. This was the highest honor awarded for a public relations project.

Because of its overwhelming success in its first year, ACS expanded NCD to a weeklong celebration in 1989 and renamed it “National Chemistry Week.” In 1993, ACS officially designated it an annual, weeklong event.

The 25th anniversary symposium will include presentations by

  • Alan Leshner, Ph.D., chief executive officer and executive publisher, Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science;
  • Ira Flatow, executive producer/host, Science Friday®, National Public Radio; and

Theodore Gray, Wolfram Research, Inc., recipient of the ACS Grady-Stack Award for Communicating Chemistry to the Public.

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National Chemistry Week (NCW), Nanotechnology: The Smallest BIG Idea in Science, Oct 21-27, 2012
A symposium honoring 25 years of National
Chemistry Week is among the special events
during the 244th American Chemical Society
National Meeting & Exposition in Philadelphia.