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Hey, ACS, Where’s My Coloring Book?

There was nothing I liked to do better when I was a young lass than to put crayons to the pages of my coloring books. Staying inside the lines was decidedly cool, and anyone who couldn’t manage it wasn’t allowed to defile my beloved “Sleeping Beauty” or “Aladdin” books.

Even today, I have a soft spot for coloring books, so when I see one as fantastic as Cell Press’s “Coloring With Cell,” I think it deserves a mention. I picked up this fun book at a Cell symposium late last year; it came with the registration materials. Immediately, I was in love with the book, made especially for young and old geeks everywhere.

Inside, Sammy The Cell guides you through the pages, describing the parts inside cells, how membrane channels work, and into what forms stem cells can differentiate. A particular favorite is the connect-the-dots activity you can do to reveal RNA polymerase stuck to some DNA.

Sammy The Cell says "Stem cells can become any other kind of cell in the body. They are pluripotent. What do you think this cell will be?" My money's on the mast cell.

This rad coloring book got me to thinking: “What would an American Chemical Society coloring book look like? What sorts of things would it ask tiny chemists to color?” Some flasks and beakers of course, and some ball-and-stick molecules to be sure. Perhaps the periodic table, a bit of safety gear, and our dear mascot, Milli Mole. But what else? Newscripts readers: What would you want to see in a coloring book geared toward getting people excited about chemistry? (And ACS, when are you going to print one, please?) Is it easier or harder to come up with things to color than for biology?

I recently shared “Coloring With Cell” with my 10-year-old niece, who wasn’t quite sure at first what to make of the book but humored me by coloring a page or two. In the end, though, she asked if I could bring it back so she could finish coloring a virus particle. Sweeter words I’ve never heard.

Coloring red blood cells in a vessel--and humoring her aunt. Credit: Wolf/C&EN

Other Newscripts coloring book reading: “Backyard Gas, Crafty Chemistry,” where kids learn about the wonders of hydro-fracking.


  • Jan 6th 201211:01
    by See Arr Oh

    Maybe K.C. Nicolaou has the right idea, but the wrong application….his “colored-in” ring systems would be great for just such a book!


  • Jan 6th 201213:01
    by Jyllian Kemsley

    If the next person who sees these at a conference would pick up one or three for me, I would be ever so grateful!

  • Jan 7th 201221:01
    by David Kroll

    Awww, you are still a young lass – and a wonderful aunt. I definitely see a lot of you in your niece.

    Looking forward to seeing you soon at ScienceOnline!

  • Jan 9th 201210:01
    by Tope oreilly

    That book sounds absolutely brilliant, I’m surprised the market for such books isn’t larger. I have friend who’s a programmer, he just had a baby and it took forever to find a teach baby to program book.

  • Jan 9th 201210:01
    by Lauren Wolf

    @Jyllian, I will certainly be on the lookout for you.
    @David, Aww, thanks. We like to call her my protege in our family ;) And I’m looking forward to see you next week as well!
    @Tope, now I’m curious: What does a “Teach Baby to Program” book look like exactly?
    @SeeArrOh, I think the ring systems should definitely make the cut. Hopefully, ACS is listening ;)

  • Jan 10th 201217:01
    by Cindy Kalachek

    Just stumbled upon your article. I am an editor with a coloring book company and we can work with you to make your dream into a reality!

  • [...] Speaking of synthetic art, we’d be remiss not to wish a happy belated birthday to organic chemist K. C. Nicolaou. Blogger BRSM prepared a special tribute to his penchant for flashy colours and ancient mythology in the figures that adorn his papers and the graphical abstracts that accompany them. A small group of Blogroll’s ‘usual suspects’ — including Adam Azman, Chemjobber and Dr Freddy — re-imagined K.C.’s classic molecules with new artistic twists. Perhaps these entries will finally prompt publication of that chemical colouring book. [...]

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