Inspiring Youth in Chemistry

A retrospective of the International Year of Chemistry, this exhibition celebrated three programs that encouraged youth to become more engaged with their chemical world.

On view March 2–June 11, 2012

When the United Nations designated 2011 as the International Year of Chemistry, organizations with missions related to chemistry eagerly joined forces to celebrate this central science and its impact on our world.

This exhibition explored three programs that reached out to the world’s youth to encourage them to become more engaged with science and their chemical world: the Global Chemistry Experiment, a set of four basic chemistry experiments conducted by students all around the world; Our Children on Water, an exhibition of paintings by children in Africa and Europe centered on the theme “Water: Refreshment or Responsibility”; and It’s Elemental, a periodic table full of videos created by U.S. high-school students.

The Global Chemistry Experiment

This project, developed by IUPAC and UNESCO, included a set of four basic chemistry experiments designed to entice students around the world to learn about how chemistry contributes to one of the most essential resources in their daily lives—water. By the project’s end over 24,000 students from more than 63 countries had participated and submitted their results to the organizers of what may be the world’s largest experiment. Although the experiments used the most basic of laboratory supplies, many schools lack even those basics. In response Global Water Kits—one of which was displayed in this exhibition—were sent to more than 30 countries.

Our Children on Water

Children from three countries in Africa and six countries in Europe were invited to create art based on the title “Water: Refreshment or Responsibility?” The result was Our Children on Water, an art exhibition developed by the Royal Society of Chemistry. The works of art show in some cases incredible imagination; others are extraordinarily thought-provoking and reveal varying cultural perspectives on the meaning of water. Over 1,500 students aged 8 to 18 participated in the project, and a final selection of 54 pieces were included in this exhibition, which also traveled to the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, Italy, and the Czech Republic.

It’s Elemental!

Science, history, art, and technology united in It’s Elemental!, a video competition we created for high-school students. More than 2,000 students from across the United States produced the 689 videos that populated an online, interactive periodic table. The three winning videos, selected by a distinguished panel of judges, were showcased in this exhibition.


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