The Union Homeschool ChemClub in Union, New Jersey, made it a fun Mole Day celebration in 2016. With the ChemClub Periodic Table of Moles nearby and a stuffed ACS mole watching over the event (see photo), they started by calculating the molar mass of several chemicals and then prepared different molar concentrations of sucrose, sodium chloride, and magnesium sulfate solutions. After adding their chalk artwork to the sidewalk, they calculated how many moles of chalk they left on the sidewalk. Then they were given a mole of four different metals and had to use their chemistry skills to identify each one. They topped off the celebration by making delicious sugar cookies that spelled out “Happy Mole Day” (see photo).
Halloween Chemistry and Mole Day are rising to the top of the most visited list on the ACS ChemClub Activities page. It must be October! If you haven’t visited the page before, ChemClubs offers a new Activity of the Month, well… every month. Each Activity collection focuses on a particular theme. For example, the latest topic is Makeup, Tattoos, and Hair. Each theme has a curated list of links. We comb the web for experiments, demonstrations, informational sites, and videos related to the month’s theme, then categorize and collect them with brief descriptions. ChemClubs also archives past Activity of the Month pages. The Halloween Chemistry and Mole Day pages are typically among the most popular during this time of year.
Mole Day may be over for the year, but bookmark the page for ideas for 2017. There’s still time to use the Halloween collection to get ideas for adding some creepy chemistry and spooky science to your day.
Some things you’ll find on the Halloween Chemistry Activity of the Month page:
- Looking to make chemistry your Halloween wardrobe of choice? Take a look at the Costumes tab for ideas on masquerading as your favorite element or compound.
- One link in the Body Parts tab suggests giving a classic demonstration a Halloween twist. You could probably dig up the materials at your house right now. Fill a plastic zip-seal bag with water, add red food coloring, and seal to create a bag of blood. Then, stab through the bag with skewers or sharpened pencils. The bag won’t leak due to the structure of the polymers that make up the bag.
- Dry ice is indispensable for a bubbling cauldron effect. But, it can also be used to create a crystal ball filled with a swirling fog of the future. Look for the Boo Bubbles link in the Dry Ice tab. I’ve used the homemade container featured in the Sick Science! video at the link with kid-crowd-pleasing results.
There’s lots more to explore. Take a look at this Halloween collection or a different Activity of the Month new or old.
Mole Day for Auburndale High School’s ChemClub in Auburndale, Florida, was filled with activities. Mole Day greeting cards were delivered to the school’s faculty and staff. Teachers were “moled” by students asking them to wear handmade Mole Day ribbons and stickers. A school-wide video segment about Mole Day aired in the morning, explaining the development of the mole concept and its importance in chemistry. Students also used a mole of aluminum potassium sulfate to grow alum crystals. Projects ranged from Mole Day flags to Mole Jeopardy games to Mole Day treats. In the midst of stoichiometry calculations, students can recall Mole Day and know that chemistry can be fun!
This popular toy was accidentally discovered by engineer James Wright while working at General Electric during World War II. He was trying to find a substitute for natural rubber that was in short supply. Interestingly the patent for this item is still in dispute. What is the name of this toy?
B. Silly Putty
C. Play Doh
The question above (the answer is B, by the way) was one of those asked during a trivia contest on a local radio station twice a day every day from Monday, October 21, through Friday, October 25, to celebrate National Chemistry Week (NCW). Members of the Ottawa Township High School (OTHS) ChemClub wrote 12 multiple-choice trivia questions, and the morning show host, Jay LeSeure, picked which ones he would use each day. The contest was so popular that the station lifted their policy of only winning once every 30 days because there were so many callers each day. Contest prizes were copies of the ChemClub calendar, which has the OTHS club pictured on the cover, along with pictures from our outreach programs shown on the May and July pages; the current issue of ChemMatters; and a gift certificate for a local restaurant. A big thank you to Marta Gmurczyk at ACS for supplying the calendars and ChemMatters and Rick Koshko, the news director at WCMY 1430 AM.
We did an additional activity during NCW, on Mole Day. For our ChemClub meeting, two members made a periodic table of cupcakes—118 mini cupcakes, each decorated with the symbol of an element. They organized them into the periodic table before we safely consumed them. Please don’t try that with real elements! I even ate the plutonium myself, even though I was warned it smelled funny (Pu). In addition, we had molasses cookies and guacamole.
We have had a very exciting start to the year and look forward to taking our show for elementary schools on the road during second semester. Recently we also received the Ambassador of Chemistry award from the ACS Office of Public Affairs for bringing chemistry to the public.