Collective Voice: Inspiring Youth in Chemistry

Anyone who is a regular reader of Periodic Tabloid could not have missed our celebration of the 2011 International Year of Chemistry. For the year-long celebration initiated by IUPAC and UNESCO, the organizers established the goals of increasing public appreciation of chemistry in meeting world needs, encouraging interest in chemistry among young people, and generating enthusiasm for the creative future of chemistry. Through various activities throughout the year, CHF and many other organizations worked towards these goals with the hope that interest generated would carry well beyond 2011.

Not wanting the year to fade into distant memory, CHF has set out to become the repository of record for IYC2011. Working with IUPAC, we have begun collecting archival material that will provide future researchers an historical account of IYC and how it came to be. As is usually the case with archival endeavors, that work will continue for some time.

CHF also wanted to cap the year with a retrospective exhibit that highlighted some of the activities that occurred during 2011. The curatorial team decided to focus the exhibit around the IYC goal of “encouraging interest in chemistry among young people,” and developed the just-opened Inspiring Youth in Chemistry. In it, we highlight three programs that reached out to the world’s youth in 2011 to encourage them to become more engaged with science and their chemical world.

Inspiring Youth in Chemistry, currently on view at CHF.

The “Global Chemistry Experiment” was developed by IUPAC and UNESCO and was designed to encourage young people from all over the world to participate in experiments related to water in their community. Over 24,000 students from 63 countries participated and submitted their results which are now being compiled and are available online.

Students from Paraguay collect their water samples for experimentation.

Children from three countries in Africa and six countries in Europe were invited to create art based on the theme: “Water: Refreshment or Responsibility?” The result was “Our Children on Water,” an art exhibition developed by the Royal Society of Chemistry. Over 1,500 students aged 8 to 18 participated in the project and a final selection of 54 pieces are included in this exhibition. The show also travelled during 2011 to the U.K., Spain, Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic. We are thrilled to be the only planned stop in the U.S. The quality and variety of art produced by the young people—a few examples are below—is both striking and thought-provoking.


Left: Thato Mazibuko, 15, South Africa. Right: Osvaldo Nencini, 14, Italy.

Last but not least, the exhibit features "It’s Elemental," CHF’s own youth outreach program from 2011. This video competition, created for high-school students, attracted more than 2,000 students from across the United States, who produced and submitted the 689 videos that populate our online, interactive periodic table. The competition winners’ videos are featured in the exhibit. The program was so successful that CHF will be launching” It’s Elemental 2013” this fall.

Inspiring Youth in Chemistry opened just over a week ago and will be open until early June. We invite anyone in the area to stop by and see the exhibition for yourself.

Jenn Landry is the director of the Museum at CHF. Gigi Naglak is outreach coordinator for CHF’s Eddleman Institute. Collective Voice, dispatches from CHF's collections team, appears every second Tuesday on Periodic Tabloid.

Posted In: Education

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