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Celebrating IYC with a Children’s Book

In celebration of the International Year of Chemistry, South African children’s author Ginny Stone has written a children’s book about chemistry.

In “Sibo Mixes Things Up,” the main character–a young girl named Sibo–has made a huge mess and has to clean it up before her mother finds out. Her friend Lennie comes to the rescue and helps clean up the mess with a chemical “magic potion.” Sibo becomes curious about chemicals and wants to learn more about them. So her teacher invites a guest to come talk to her class about chemistry and how it helps them in their everyday life.

The book is the 10th in a series of Sibo books by Stone. “Chemistry only gets introduced to kids in Grade 6 or 7 in South Africa and I figured there is no earthly reason for them not to know about it when they are younger,” she says.

Stone debuted the book during SciFest Africa, South Africa’s national science festival, which was held this year on May 4-10 in Grahamstown, South Africa. For more information about the book, visit: www.sibo.co.za/sibo_2_011.htm

Photo by Ginny Stone.


IYC Weekly Round-up, 5/14-5/20

Here are some of the IYC happenings from the last week:

  • Today, May 20, is World Metrology Day. Go forth, and celebrate.
  • Be sure the check out the Peeps chemistry diorama Linda Wang wrote about earlier this week.
  • ACS President Nancy Jackson made her first of two appearances on the “The Best of Our Knowledge” radio program.
  • More than 800 students participated in hands-on activities during the two-day Malaysian Chemistry Carnival.
  • Impossible2possible launched its running expedition of Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni, the largest salt flat in the world, where four youth ambassadors will also participate in chemistry experiments that will be broadcast live to participating schools and posted on the i2P website.
  • Part of Philosophically Disturbed’s Chemistry365 series, Magdeline Lum’s post about capillary action includes this mesmerizingly beautiful video:

Got Peeps?

Have some Peeps leftover from Easter and don’t know what to do with them? Peeps — you know, marshmallow gooeyness shaped like pastel chicks and bunnies?

ACS member Kathryn Hughes sent me this adorable photo of an IYC-themed Peep diorama that she; her husband Matthew Clarke, and friend Abigail Miller, created for the Washington Post’s fourth annual Peeps diorama contest. They affectionately named their diorama “International Peep of Chemistry.” Note the “Peepriodic Table of Elements” hanging on the back wall. And if you look real close, you can see safety glasses on each Peep — and the gas cylinder is strapped down …. and there’s an eye wash and a fire extinguisher, complete with inspection tags.

Even Peeps have to demonstrate prudent practices in the lab!

Hughes is a program officer with the National Academy of Sciences’ Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology. Clarke is a chemist at the National Gallery of Art. And Miller is a chemist at American University.

“It took all of our chemical know-how to pull it together,” said Hughes. But “sadly, our fabulous chemical creativity was not rewarded by even runner-up status.” Nevertheless, it did bring IYC to the attention of the Washington Post judges. The first place winner of the contest was a diorama depicting the October 2010 rescue of the 33 trapped Chilean miners.

Feel free to submit examples of how you are celebrating IYC in your community.

By the way, if you’re curious what these peeps are made of, read C&EN’s What’s That Stuff article on the chemistry of marshmallows.


IYC (Bi)Weekly Round-up, 4/30-5/13

Some of the IYC happenings from 4/30-5/13:


Catch Nancy Jackson on National Public Radio

Tune in to National Public Radio at 8pm EDT on Mon., May 16th, and Mon., May 23, to hear ACS President Nancy Jackson talk about the International Year of Chemistry on the NPR show “The Best of Our Knowledge” with host Glenn Busby. Topics will include the central role that chemistry plays in our modern world, ACS’s chemistry ambassadors, science education, and mentoring in chemistry.

“The Best of Our Knowledge” features leading experts whose discoveries shape our ways of thinking and redefine our understanding of today’s knowledge-driven society.

The original broadcasts will air on the WAMC NPR network in the Northeastern U.S. The programs will be rebroadcast on WAMC network at 3pm on Fri., May 20, and Fri., May 27. Listeners can also tune in on the web at http://www.wamc.org/prog-tbook.html during these times.

NPR affiliate radio stations nationwide will broadcast the segments on Wed., May 18, and Wed., May 25. Check your local NPR affiliate for the program times. After the segments air, podcasts will be posted online at the WAMC website, and CDs can be ordered by calling (800) 323-9262.


Kids Grasp Water’s Importance

Posted on behalf of Charles Michael Drain, chemistry professor at Hunter College of the City University of New York

As part of the celebration of the International Year of Chemistry, graduate student Jacopo Samson from Hunter College of the City University of New York and I participated in the “pH of the Planet” experiment with over 250 seventh grade students from Readington Middle School in Hunterdon County, N. J.

During the last week of April, the students brought in water samples from wells, lakes, rivers, and streams. After viewing a National Geographic video about water on YouTube and discussing the properties of water, students worked in pairs to observe the turbidity and use indicators to determine the pH of 3-4 samples. Seventh grade science teachers Gerry Slattery and Chip Shepherd helped plan the experiment and worked with students when they had questions. A couple of students then tabulated the data and determined the average for each water source. Both the students and I were impressed that their averages matched well with what we determined using a calibrated pH electrode. The tabulated data is being uploaded to a database along with pH values of local water sources determined by students from every part of the planet.

“I didn’t realize how many people don’t have access to clean water and how important pH is,” seventh grader Zach said.

Drain helps prepare the experiment in his son Neel's classroom


IYC Weekly Round-up, 4/23-4/29

Here are some of the weekly happenings from this last week:


IYC Weekly Round-up, 4/9-4/22

Another extended edition of the round-up this week, but offerings of video goodness abound.

But first, in honor of Earth Day, a quick look ahead: the next Cape Cod Science Cafe is next Friday, 4/29. The topic is alternative energy and sustainability, featuring Dan Nocera as the keynote speaker.

In other news:

  • The Philippines officially launched its IYC celebration with a kick-off event on Tuesday, April 12.
  • The Hindu ran a brief story about a vacation theater camp organized by the Regional Science Centre and Planetarium in Kozhikode, India. The theme of the camp? “The chemistry of theatre and the theatre in chemistry.”
  • UConn Today ran a Q&A on 4/18 with Mark Peczuh, associate professor of chemistry and chair of the ACS’s Connecticut Valley Section, entitled “Why Chemistry Matters to Everyone“. Bonus: here’s one of the video’s mentioned in the article,”Speak Simply”:

Finally, the video mother lode. Dow Chemical and The Franklin Institute released the first three videos in their “Celebrate Chemistry” series. Former ACS President Katie Hunt and TFI scientist Derrick Pitts demonstrate experiments kids can do at home. For your viewing pleasure:


IYC Weekly Round-up, 4/2-4/8

I made an egregious omission from last week’s round-up. I refer, of course, to the IYC Chemistry Dance from #ACSAnaheim:

Also on the video front, winners of the “It’s Elemental” video contest, sponsored by Dow Chemical and hosted by the Chemical Heritage Foundation, were announced yesterday. Eleven schools received grants from Dow, and all video submissions can be viewed from the contest page on CHF’s website.


IYC Weekly Round-up, 3/26-4/1

Some of the IYC happenings from last week:



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