AACT Celebrates National Chemistry Week

By Jenn Parsons on October 15, 2018

National Chemistry Week (NCW) is celebrated October 21 – 27th, 2018. This year’s theme is Chemistry is Out of This World, and we are celebrating the chemistry of stars, gases, light, the electromagnetic spectrum, and more!

In the spirit of the NCW theme, AACT hosted a content writing contest for current teacher members. This year’s winners were Monticello Middle School teacher, Jennifer Smith, from Monticello, Illinois and South Lewis High School teacher, Anne Huntress, from Turin, New York. Both teachers created an exciting and unique lesson plan inspired by the theme of NCW.

Jennifer Smith’s NGSS aligned lesson plan, Elements are Out of This World, is appropriate for both middle school and upper elementary school students. During this lesson, students will learn about the elements that make up Earth’s atmosphere and lithosphere and then compare and contrast the information with the elements that compose various other astronomical objects. Students will locate quantitative data, create graphs using the data and analyze their findings. After completing research on an astronomical object, they’ll conclude the activity by creating an infographic.

Anne Huntress’s NGSS aligned lesson plan, Chemical Analysis of Martian Rocks, is designed for use with high school students. During this lesson students are first engaged as they watch a short video clip depicting the “7-minutes of terror” that NASA engineers precisely plan in order to successfully land the Curiosity Mars rover on the surface of Mars. Students then apply their knowledge of percent composition in order to determine empirical formulas as they complete practice calculations in preparation for the activity. During the activity students are challenged to analyze the spectral graphs obtained by the Curiosity Mars Rover. Based on their examination students will determine the component elements of each sample, as well as the relative abundance of each element. With this information the student will complete calculations to find the empirical formula and identify the composition of the unknown rock. Finally students will complete research to see if these rocks are actually like those on Earth.

In addition to these new and exciting lesson plans, be sure to attend the AACT National Chemistry Week themed webinar, Making “Space” for Astronomy Connections in Chemistry Class on Wednesday October 24th, 7pm EST. This webinar will be hosted by chemistry teacher, Michael Romano, who just completed an Einstein Fellowship at NASA. He will share numerous ideas for bringing space topics into your chemistry lessons!

Elementary and middle school teachers can use this year’s edition of Celebrating Chemistry, from the American Chemical Society to engage young students in basic chemistry principles related to NCW. The digital version is free to download, and includes activities, articles, puzzles and experiments that connect to this year’s theme, Chemistry is Out of This World.

If you are looking for even more NCW themed ideas for use in your classroom check out the highlighted resources from the AACT library below!

K-12 Multimedia:

High School Classroom Resources:

Middle School Classroom Resources:

Elementary School Classroom Resources: