Waterworld

Water Resources for Survival and Development, Loise Kasyoke and Juliet Ivyaiychama, Machakos Girls High School, Kenya. (Royal Society of Chemistry)

Water Resources for Survival and Development, Loise Kasyoke and Juliet Ivyaiychama, Machakos Girls High School, Kenya. (Royal Society of Chemistry)

In 2011 students from more than 60 countries participated in a worldwide water-testing experiment. That same year children across Africa and Europe were invited by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) to submit water-themed art. These events were part of the United Nations’ International Year of Chemistry (IYC 2011) initiatives aimed at raising awareness of chemistry’s importance in addressing pressing issues of global concern, such as sufficient food and clean water.

Though IYC 2011 has passed, the Museum at CHF chose to celebrate the culmination of the year-long event with a temporary exhibition called Inspiring Youth in Chemistry, which ran from March though June. The show highlighted both international programs alongside CHF’s own IYC 2011–themed student video competition, It’s Elemental!

The Global Chemistry Experiment was created by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization to encourage students from all corners of the world to use chemistry to assess natural resources—in this case, water. The four basic  experiments—measuring pH and salinity, and building a filtration system and a solar still—were launched on World Water Day in March 2011 in Cape Town, South Africa. In all, 24,000 students from more than 63 countries participated.

Meanwhile, as part of the RSC’s Our Children on Water efforts, kids created art based on the theme “Water: Refreshment or Responsibility?” Over 1,500 students aged 8 to 18 from European and African countries participated. Fifty-four of these drawings and paintings were hung in our exhibition, revealing children’s views on water from many thought-provoking perspectives.

Videos from CHF’s It’s Elemental! contest played in a loop in the museum’s Hach Gallery. The competition allowed students from the United States to use various film genres, such as documentary, music video, or news report, to explore a chosen element. The winners included a video submitted by Daniyal Kahn of Berlin High School in Connecticut, which took a Discovery Channel documentary approach in explaining hydrogen’s structure and application in modern technologies. Another winning video, from Nebraska’s Lincoln Southwest High School, was submitted by “The Gadolonian Gladiators,” who revealed the history of their namesake element.

Inspiring Youth in Chemistry was presented in the hopes of continuing IYC 2011’s efforts to inspire children worldwide.

Rosie Cook is CHF’s registrar and assistant curator.