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Partner Highlight: Outcomes from the American Chemical Society’s 2017 National Chemistry Week

Lily Raines, American Chemical Society


In 2017, the American Chemical Society (ACS) celebrated the 30th anniversary of one of our most successful outreach campaigns, National Chemistry Week (NCW). NCW is always anchored around Mole Day, a.k.a. October 23, and features a new theme each year. The overall goal of the program is to show the general public how chemistry is involved in every aspect of our daily lives, and so topics have ranged from chemistry in art, in food, in the movies, and in sports.

NCW events typically focus on hands-on experiments and are generally targeted towards students aged 6 – 14, but everyone is invited to celebrate the week! Teachers can encourage their students to enter both local and national NCW Illustrated Poem Contests, and can also engage in a themed Community Event. Volunteers are encouraged to participate in some or all of these ways as best serves their community.

This year, more than 80% (149/185) of regional groups of ACS Members in the United States planned events for “Chemistry Rocks!” – our celebration of geochemistry. You can read highlights about 2017 events held around the country in a recent article published by Chemical and Engineering News.

NCW is truly a program by volunteers and for volunteers. Volunteers who serve on the ACS Committee on Community Activities write articles, identify community events, develop experiments, judge contests, and organize outreach events during each ACS National Meeting and Exposition to promote NCW and the related outreach campaign Chemists Celebrate Earth Day. Their efforts culminate in a children’s publication, Celebrating Chemistry, that is published in Spanish and English as a tool for volunteers working with their local communities. Print versions of the most recent editions can be ordered online, and the full electronic files from years past are available for free.

Next year, NCW moves beyond the atmosphere with the theme “Chemistry is Out of This World!” If you would like to get involved and volunteer with NCW, you can find your local ACS NCW coordinator using our online look up tool. If you don’t have a coordinator near you, please contact us at

If you’re making a New Year’s Resolution to volunteer more, there’s no need to wait until October 2018 to work with the ACS. This April, please consider helping us celebrate our 15th anniversary of our Earth Day outreach campaign, which officially expands from Chemists Celebrate Earth Day to Chemists Celebrate Earth Week (CCEW) with the theme “Dive into Marine Chemistry!” All CCEW online materials will be available on February 1, 2018.  Contact your local ACS CCEW coordinator today, or email us at