The History of “Chemistry Day”

The annual, award-winning National Chemistry Week celebration
of the MSU Local Section of the American Chemical Society!

In 1987, the 1st National Chemistry Day was declared by the American Chemical Society to promote the public’s understanding and appreciation of the role that chemistry plays in our everyday lives.  To celebrate the event, a group of local area teachers, under the sponsorship of the MSU Local Section, organized a hands-on activities and chemical demonstration program on Saturday, Nov. 7, 1987 at the Frandor Shopping Mall in East Lansing.  Presenters were teachers and students from nine area high schools.  Because this event was such a wonderful success, members of the MSU local section and area teacher, students, and members of the Lansing business community have combined their efforts to celebrate “Chemistry Day” every fall since 1987.

In 1995 the section received a special recognition award from the ACS for “Best Use of Emerging Technology” for posting digital pictures of their event on the World Wide Web.   In 1996, the ACS recognized our 10th annual event with a National Chemistry Week Phoenix Award for the “Best Shopping Mall Show” in the country.

New for the 2000 NCW celebration, girl scouts were invited to pre-register and attend “Chemistry Day”.   After completion of eight hands-on activities, the scouts were presented with a specially designed “Chemistry Day” patch for their badge sash.  Over 300 girl scouts participated!

Chemistry Day 2001
For the 15th annual event in 2001, “Chemistry Day” left the mall and for the first time was an event at Impression 5 Science Center.  “Celebrating Chemistry & Art” was the theme and 120 presenters manned 25 tables of art related chemistry activities amidst the museum’s hands-on exhibits.  The merging of “Chemistry Day” and Impression 5 made for exceptionally exciting day of science for the approximately 1,500 people that attended the event.  The Impression 5 staff handled the fund-raising and publicity.  These efforts resulted in Chemistry Day being an admission-free event thanks to a generous donation by MBI International.  In addition, full articles about the event appeared in both the State News and in the Lansing State Journal.  The Michigan Capitol Girl Scout Council again registered scouts for the event and over 400 attended and received “Chemistry & Art” patches.  Presenters included students and teachers from local schools: Mount Hope Elementary and Holt, Perry, and Stockbridge High Schools; MSU students in Science Theatre, Chemistry Club, Women in Chemistry, and NOBCChE; the Alma College Chemistry Club; and employees of MBI International.

For this outstanding 2001 event, the MSU Local Section received another Phoenix Award from the American Chemical Society.  The award recognized "Chemistry Day at Impression 5" the 2001 National Chemistry Week event with the “Greatest Community Involvement.”

Chemistry Day 2002
In 2002, the 16th annual “Chemistry Day” hands-on activity/demonstration event was held from 11 am – 3:30 pm on Saturday, October 19, 2002 at Impression 5 Science Center, a local science museum.  Admission to the museum was again free, thanks to a generous donation from MBI International, a Lansing biotechnology firm.  The total attendance for the event was 2,259.

Though the event was open to the public, Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops were specifically invited to attend by publicizing the event through the local councils.  Any scout attending received a specially-designed Participation Patch illustrating the theme “Chemistry Keeps Us Clean!” (this is the third year we’ve done this).  The total scout attendance was 712, including 326 Boy Scouts and 386 Girl Scouts.  Activities were provided so that Boy Scouts could earn their Chemistry Merit Badge (130 Boy Scouts participated in this and 86 completed the requirements at the event).  Fifteen Michigan State University faculty and graduate students were available to discuss the activities with the scouts and to check their understanding as they progressed through the requirements.  In addition, 196 Cub Scouts and Webelos completed the requirements for their Science Belt Loop, Science Academic Pin and/or Science Activity Pin.

Twenty-six tables of hands-on activities, many consistent with the theme, were presented by 40 students from the Departments of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Environmental Engineering, and Food Science; by 17 employees of the Board of Water and Light and MBI International; as well as by 45 students from Perry High School and Lakeside Christian School.  Moles, mugs, and element pins were raffled off each hour.  Each participant received NCW activity newspaper, a “Hooray for Chemistry” bag, and an NCW helium balloon.  Hundreds of nanomoles and chemistry tattoos were also given away.

Pictures of the event can be seen at the local section website: http://www.cem.msu.edu/~msuacs/ncw2002_after.html and in the December 16, 2002 issue of Chemical and Engineering News.

For their 2002 Chemistry Day at Impression 5, the MSU local section was recognized with a ChemLuminary Award for National Chemistry Week: "Outstanding Event for a Specific Audience" (the specific audience being the scouts) at the ChemLuminary award ceremony during the 2003 National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in New York City.

Chemistry Day 2003
The MSU Local Section once again ushered in National Chemistry Week with our 17th annual “Chemistry Day” hands-on activity/demonstration event held from 11 am – 3:30 pm on Saturday, October 25, 2003 at Impression 5 Science Center, a local science museum.  Admission to the museum was free, thanks to a generous donation from MBI International, a Lansing biotechnology firm.  The total attendance for the event was 2,551.
Though the event was open to the public, Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops were specifically invited to pre-register and attend by publicizing the event through the local councils.  Any scout attending received a specially-designed Participation Patch illustrating the theme “Earth’s Atmosphere and Beyond!” This is the fourth year we’ve done this.  The total scout attendance was 660, including 316 Boy Scouts and 344 Girl Scouts.  In addition, 220 other children participated, each earning a patch.
Thirty tables of hands-on activities, most consistent with the theme, were presented by 130 volunteers including students from the Michigan State University Department of Chemistry (members of NOBCChE, ACS Women in Chemistry, the Younger Chemists Committee, Alpha Sigma Chi, and Science Theatre); by employees of the Board of Water and Light and MBI International; and by students from Okemos, Perry, and Eaton Rapids High Schools.   Theme related activities included the CO2 leaky faucet, H2 pipette rockets, observation of line spectra (each participant received a diffraction grating card to take home), collapsing pop can, Cartesian divers, Bernoulli principle demonstrations, hero’s fountain in a bottle, and the tornado tube.
In addition to the participation patch, each participant received a “Periodic Table of the Elements”, an NCW activity newspaper, a “Hooray for Chemistry” bag, and an NCW helium balloon.

Pictures of the event can be seen at the local section website:  http://www.cem.msu.edu/~msuacs/1photos_2003.html and in the December 2003 issue of Chemical and Engineering News.

For their 2003 Chemistry Day at Impression 5, the MSU local section was recognized with a ChemLuminary Award for National Chemistry Week: "Outstanding On-Going National Chemistry Week Event" at the ChemLuminary award ceremony during the 2004 National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia..