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National chemistry week festivities varied; Ottawa section provides something for all ages.

Ottawa Section Provides Something for All Ages

As a result of the success of previous National Chemistry Week activities, for 1991 the Section established a National Chemistry Week Standing Committee. The ten-member group met about once a month to discuss ideas and co-ordinate events. Responsibilities were divided as follows: Elementary School Program: R. Renaud (Outaouais) and W. Nip, MCIC (Ottawa-Carleton); High School Program: D. Cooney, FCIC (Lab Tours), M. Day, FCIC (Crystal Growing Competition) and K. Bell, MCIC; General Public Program: J. Milne, MCIC (Co-ordinator) and M. Girard, MCIC (Local Section Booth); Fundraising & Publicity: A. Fenwick, MCIC, and Henri Sergi, MCIC; Committee Co-ordinator: J. Lockwood, MCIC. While each member had one major area of responsibility, as NCW'91 approached everyone worked together to ensure the success of all the events.

General Public Program

NCW'91 was "kicked off" in Ottawa on October 19 with displays and demonstrations for the general public at the Rideau Centre. Shoppers were encouraged to take a few minutes to visit booths and "Discover Canadian Chemistry". Participants from Algonquin College, Carleton University, University of Ottawa, Industry, Science & Technology Canada, and the Ottawa Carleton Research Institute were present to demonstrate chemical concepts and meet the public.

Crystals from the Section's High School Crystal Growing Competition were on display. M. Day presented the winning team from Ecole Secondaire Louis-Riel with the CIC Crystal Growing Trophy for the biggest and best crystal. T-shirts were awarded to members of the winning teams.

On-stage shows entitled "A Day in the Life of a Chemist" and "Polymers" were held periodically throughout the afternoon by J. Milne and J.L. Roustan, MCIC (University of Ottawa) and M. Gauthier, FCIC (NRC). A variety of experiments involving colour changes were performed to catch the imagination of passersby. Members of the audience were also encouraged to test the acidity of fruit juices and to learn about simple polymers (nylon, slime and superballs).

Tours of Local Laboratories

Once again, senior high school students were provided with an opportunity to gain a better appreciation of the chemical profession by touring local laboratories. During NCW'91, over 475 students visited local labs. Participating laboratories included: Bureau of Drug Research, Health & Welfare Canada; Canadian Conservation Institute, Communications Canada; Forensic Laboratories, Royal Canadian Mounted Police; Institute for Environmental Chemistry, NRC; Molecular Structures & Dynamics, Steacie Institute for Molecular Structure, NRC; Ultrafast Phenomena, Steacie Institute for Molecular Structures, NRC; Product Safety Branch, Consumer and Corporate Affairs; Department of Chemistry, University of Ottawa; Department of Chemistry, Carleton University; and R.O. Pickard Environmental Centre, Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton.


Starting October 20th and continuing through the month of November, approximately 40 volunteer chemists visited local elementary schools to perform demonstrations (in English and French) for students in Grades 3 to 6. While the NCW Committee had prepared polymer demonstrations on making nylon, "green slime" and superballs, volunteers were encouraged to find their own approach to the classroom presentations. This program was extremely well received and reached over 5000 students in the Ottawa-Carleton-Outaouais region.


A volunteer appreciation evening was held in early December. During the evening, volunteers were encouraged to share their experiences and provide input for NCW'92 activities.

The Local Section would like to thank the Canadian Society for Chemistry and the following organizations for providing financial assistance for our NCW activities: Fisher Scientific, Nordion International, Northern Telecom, Perkin-Elmer Canada and Varian Canada.

Finally, NCW celebrations in Ottawa would not have been possible without the hours of dedicated effort of the members of the Ottawa Section's NCW Standing Committee. Special thanks is extended to the committee members.

Judith Lockwood, MCIC

Vancouver Section's NCW Activities a Joint Effort

The Vancouver Local Section of The Institute, Simon Fraser University (SFU) and the University of British Columbia (UBC) joined forces and resources to mount a combined program of lectures, panel discussions, laboratory tours and "hands-on" laboratory activities of interest to the general public, high school and college students, teachers, instructors and to various members of the corporate community. The leaders of this effort were Beryl Deuel, MCIC, Vancouver Section NCW Coordinator (Crofton House School); Louis Peterson, MCIC (Simon Fraser University); and Robert Thompson, FCIC (University of British Columbia).

Press kits were delivered to the newspapers and to radio and television stations in the lower mainland area. The same kit was sent to all schools, colleges, selected industries and to all members of the Vancouver Section well in advance of NCW. Follow-up calls were made to the media prior to and during NCW. Unfortunately, media coverage of the scale desired was not attracted; however, there was some coverage in the press and on radio. This may due in part to the fact that a BC Provincial Election was held just a few days before NCW.

The joint program began on Tuesday, October 15, with Careers Day at SFU where companies set up booths on the concourse to provide information about their activities and employment opportunities.

Public Lectures

The first meeting of the Vancouver CIC Section was held at the Science World lecture hall on October 21 and featured a public lecture by Jeffrey L.C. Wright, MCIC, of the Institute for Marine Biosciences in Halifax. Introduced by Elizabeth McDonald, MCIC, President of the Section, Wright's topic was "Marine Poisons - Dangers of the Deep" and dealt with his work and that of others on the discovery and identification of the new neurotoxin domoic acid, responsible for the poisoning of shellfish off the coast of Prince Edward Island in 1987. He also spoke of other toxins that affect shellfish in general. About 100 people attended the talk, half of which were high school students from the lower mainland area.

The Fletcher Challenge Theatre at SFU's Harbour Centre Campus was the venue for a public lecture on October 23. J.C. Davis, Director, Center for Mass Spectrometry Studies at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, University of California, a member of the United Nations Special Commission Inspection Team, spoke about the search for nuclear weapons material in Iraq following the Gulf War.

SFU played host to many events the afternoon and evening of the 25th. These included: the World of Chemistry video series; a lecture by Mark Winston, Biological Sciences Department- "A Symphony of Odours in the Honeybee"; Saul Wolfe, FCIC, Chemistry Department- "Designer Drugs"; and Robert Frindt, Physics Department - "The Science of Materials".

Winners of the BC Regional Science Fairs visited SFU to attend sessions on various topics on October 22. The sessions were: holography given by Jeff Dahn, Physics Department; DNA extraction by Joan Sharp, Biology Department; and metal analysis by Louis Peterson and others from the Department of Chemistry. Presentations were also given on engineering, kinesiology and computer science.

That evening at UBC, there was a conducted tour of the laboratories followed by a panel discussion on "Chemistry Today". Panel members were: N. Burlinson; J.P. Kutney, FCIC, Chemistry Department, UBC; K.J. Orians, MCIC, Departments of Chemistry and Oceanography, UBC; A. Proctor, Director, Pulp and Paper Research, MacMillan Bloedel; J.N.R. Ruddick, Forestry Department, UBC.

Science Future Events

That Friday and Saturday, Science Future Events for Grade 12 students were held at both universities. At SFU, there were laboratory activities in holography, DNA extraction and metal detection and analysis. While at UBC, there were experiments in organic, inorganic and physical chemistry.

About 500 people took part in the events. There could have been many more people participate and this was a great disappointment.

Overall the Section sees NCW'91 as a tempered success. It was the Section's first major effort for National Chemistry Week and it was a great learning experience to build on for NCW'92.

Beryl M. Deuel, MCIC

NCW May Help Revive W-W Section

Adrian Schwan, MCIC, of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Guelph hopes that his efforts in organizing a display at Stone Road Mall, the largest shopping mall in Guelph, may trigger the revitalization of the Wellington-Waterloo Local Section.

The space for the mall display was booked in August and provided on a complimentary basis for the group as it is non-profit. Unfortunately, a car show was booked (a paying customer) for the same date and the NCW display was pushed out of the limelight.

The display consisted of two poster boards: one entitled Discover Canadian Chemistry indicated six surprising places where chemists work and the other was called Discover Guelph Chemistry showing posters and/or logos exposing area chemical companies. The contributing companies were: Uniroyal Chemical, McNeil Consumer Products, Hart Chemical, Fiberglass Canada, The Guelph Soap Co., Quatic Industries, Eli Eco Logic, Wellington Environmental Consultants and EMI Data Systems.

During the display, the 1991 American Chemical Society video for National Chemistry Week, Chemistry: Serious Fun, was played. NCW handouts, Responsible Care brochures and flyers from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University promoting chemistry were passed out. The staff for the display came from the Department (faculty, grad students and undergrads), Uniroyal Chemical and McNeil Consumer Products.

What were the benefits of such an effort? First, the message of NCW was passed on to a number of mall shoppers. Secondly, the display was a catalyst to get local industry and university people talking to one another and working together and the first step to rejuvenating the Wellington-Waterloo Section has been taken.

Adrian L. Schwan, MCIC

Vancouver Island Section's Open House a Big Hit

In celebration of National Chemistry Week, the Vancouver Island Section organized a Chemistry Open House at the University of Victoria on the weekend of October 19 and 20. With the help of the University Public Relations Department, the event, organized by Peter Wan, MCIC, and Ian Blazey, Administrative Officer of the Chemistry Department, was advertised in the local newspaper and numerous other outlets.

Members of the Department gave up their weekend to help out by setting up engaging demos, interesting experiments, acting as guides and even making coffee and blowing up helium balloons for the kids. The popularity of the open house was enhanced by the appearance of a photo of a young girl intensely absorbed by the orange phosphorescence of some manganese crystals in the "Fun-with-Light" lab on the front page of the Saturday edition of the Times-Columnist. This free advertisement attracted even more people on the Sunday and the Open House was completely overwhelmed! Well over 1500 people attended during the two days.

The most popular event was by far Dr. Zonk's (also known as Reg Mitchell, FCIC) Chemistry Magic Show. Complimentary tickets for the three scheduled shows went quickly and many visitors were visibly disappointed in being turned away by the lack of seating. Some other popular events included: tours of Terry Gough's, MCIC, laser laboratory; a glass blowing demo given by Dave Searle; Graham Branton's, MCIC, "Chemistry-for-Kids" show and David Harrington's, MCIC, "World at 77K" demo. Hands-on demonstrations were very popular with the public, especially David Berry's, MCIC, chromatographic separation of ink colours.

It was our unanimous conclusion that a large percentage of the public is keen on coming to the university to learn more about chemistry and that an open house is by far the best way for communicating the central role chemistry plays in our society.

Peter Wan, MCIC
COPYRIGHT 1992 Chemical Institute of Canada
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Author:Lockwood, Judith
Publication:Canadian Chemical News
Date:Feb 1, 1992
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