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World’s biggest chemistry lesson wows kids

Posted on behalf of assistant managing editor Sophie Rovner:

ACS President-Elect Bassam Z. Shakhashiri alerted us recently to a record-breaking International Year of Chemistry event that took place recently in Belgium.

Shakashiri IYC demo

Shakhashiri makes an impression during a Chemistry Week demonstration in Belgium. Photo courtesy of Bassam Shakhashiri

Some 562 primary school students gathered for the world’s biggest chemistry lesson on Feb. 28. essenscia, a federation of companies in the chemical industry and life sciences, and Technopolis, a Flemish science center, pulled the event together.

Shakhashiri, a chemistry professor at University of Wisconsin, Madison, who regularly puts on ‘Science is Fun’ shows in shopping centers, schools, and other public places, helped the Belgian students make bath salt, hair gel, and toothpaste. The event marked the official launch of Chemistry Week, when kids aged 10 to 18 took a close look at chemistry at different venues around the country.

To help celebrate the International Year of Chemistry, essenscia is organizing a series of activities in Belgium to give the public, and particularly children, the opportunity to discover chemistry. The federation is motivated by the fact that the chemical sector is faced with an aging population and a lack of new young talent.

You can find an overview of all the activities taking place during the International Year of Chemistry at www.chemistry2011.org.

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