Bob Fowler, Cleveland ACS NCW Coordinator

The Cleveland Section will once again celebrate National Chemistry Week, October 17–23, with its annual children’s program for kids in Grades 2-6.  For the second year in a row, the pandemic has prevented us from presenting our normal hands-on program, so once again we’re conducting an online contest in partnership with the Cuyahoga County Public Library (CCPL) system.

Our NCW Planning Committee has been meeting twice monthly throughout the summer to design a program consistent with National’s 2021 theme “Fast or Slow…Chemistry Makes It Go!“.  We’ve decided on a program this year consisting of two demonstrations and three fun, educational and age-appropriate hands-on experiments.  The program is designed to demonstrate to the students what a chemical reaction is and methods chemists use to control their rates.  The demonstrations show the effect of mixing on the rate of the “Traffic Light” experiment and of concentration on the rate of the I2 Clock Reaction.  The hands-on experiments will demonstrate the effect of temperature on the use of yeast, table salt to catalyze the oxidation of iron and how surface area (whole or crushed pellets) affects the rate of dissolution/reaction of Alka-Seltzer.  We intend to create a video which will give the children general directions, show the demonstrations and tell the students how to set up their experiments.

Many of this year’s necessary reagents are common household items, and the Section will provide “kits” of hard-to-find materials through the CCPL.  The children will be asked a question about each demo/experiment as it’s performed, and in the end will be asked to match the experiments with 5 variables (temperature, concentration, presence of a catalyst, mixing, and surface area).  Cash prizes of $100, $75 and $50 will be given to the first, second and third places winners in each grade level.

Our partner CCPL’s web site will host the advertising for the program, the registration of the students, specific instructions, the collection of information and the students’ results via forms and will show the video.  The contest is open to all students in the Section’s six county coverage area in grades 2-6, but adult supervision will be essential.  Information about our NCW program will be found at the CCPL’s website at https://www.cuyahogalibrary.org/Kids-Teens/National-Chemistry-Week.aspx.

We create this kind of program every year for NCW with the intention of fostering interest among children in science in general and chemistry in particular.  If you’re interested in participating in helping plan our children’s program next year, please contact Bob Fowler at [email protected] for more information.