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Test Your Knowledge For Chemistry Week!

SOCORRO, N.M. October 17, 2011 – The Chemistry Department at New Mexico Tech is celebrating two important events this week: National Chemistry Week, an annual event, and the International Year of Chemistry, which coincides with the 100th anniversary of Mme. Marie Curie winning the Nobel Prize.

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 Chemistry Club member Laura Montoya holds a can of 7-Up and asks second-graders if they think it will float. (It does). The demonstration was one of several that Tech students presented to show children how chemistry is applied in real life. The Chem Club hosted this demo Monday, Oct. 17. Other visits are scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 19,
 and Monday, Oct. 24.

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Dr. Michael Heagy oxidizes a gummy bear to show students the sugar energy contained in snack foods.

Professor Dr. Michael Heagy and members of the Chemistry Club have been doing outreach activities – a chemistry magic show – at Parkview Elementary School in Socorro for about 10 years.

“We’re trying to do what we can to arouse interest in chemistry and a chemistry magic show is a fun way to do it,” Heagy said.

This year, the Chemistry Department has put together an online, interactive quiz for the Tech website. Click here to take the quiz, which will be new every day this week.

This year, the Chem Club is hosting 120 second-graders on special visits to the department’s laboratories in Jones Hall, many of which have been renovated over the past two years.

Tech students will conduct experiments that produce interesting reactions, Heagy said. In the “Halloween Reaction,” Tech students will mix three clear solutions that will turn orange after 5-10 seconds, then turn black after another 5-10 seconds.

“We’ll do some ooh-and-aah chemistry,” Heagy said. “We’ll also oxidize a gummy bear to show them how much energy is in sugar. That also illustrates that you should not snack on sugary candies too much.”


The main mission is to get younger students interested in the world of chemistry.

The theme for this year’s National Chemistry Week is “Chemistry – Our Health, Our Future!” The annual week honors the positive impacts of chemistry as it relates to nutrition, hygiene, and medicine.

National Chemistry Week is a community-based annual event that unites American Chemistry Society local sections, businesses, schools, and individuals in communicating the importance of chemistry to our quality of life.

Also, 2011 is the International Year of Chemistry, a worldwide celebration of the achievements of chemistry and its contributions to the well-being of culture and society. Under the unifying theme “Chemistry: Our Life, Our Future,” the international celebration offers interactive, entertaining, and educational activities for all ages. The Year of Chemistry is intended to reach across the globe, with opportunities for public participation at the local, regional, and national level.

The goals of the International Year of Chemistry are to increase the public appreciation of chemistry in meeting world needs, to encourage interest in chemistry among young people, and to generate enthusiasm for the creative future of chemistry. The year 2011 will coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Nobel Prize awarded to Madame Marie Curie – an opportunity to celebrate the contributions of women to science. The year will also be the 100th anniversary of the founding of the International Association of Chemical Societies, providing a chance to highlight the benefits of international scientific collaboration.

IYC 2011 events will emphasize that chemistry is a creative science essential for sustainability and improvements to our way of life. Activities, such as lectures, exhibits, and hands-on experiments, will explore how chemical research is critical for solving our most vexing global problems involving food, water, health, energy, transportation, and more.

In addition, the Year of Chemistry will help enhance international cooperation by serving as a focal point or information source for activities by national chemical societies, educational institutions, industry, governmental, and non-governmental organizations.

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech