Get Ready for NCW 2021

We’re celebrating the power of reaction rates! Start nailing down the details for an awesome National Chemistry Week.

Last updated 9/28/2021

National Chemistry Week (NCW) may seem a long way off, but the week of October 17 will be here before you know it. The sooner you get started planning your celebratory events the better.

This year’s theme takes on kinetics with “Fast or Slow … Chemistry Makes It Go!” How do reaction rates affect cleaning products? Can you slow down the browning of sliced apples? How do scientists use catalysts and reaction conditions to make faster engines, cleaner fuels, and more effective medicines?

Your chapter has a wide playing field to come up with fun, interesting, and engaging activities that can be done in your community, at your school, or within your chapter both in person and online. Even better, you can apply for a grant to help fund your activities.

This year’s celebration will also include two new special events: NCW’s first Chemistry Advocacy Day on October 20 encourages participants to contact their government officials via email or phone to advocate for funding scientific research, strengthening STEM education at all levels, and developing sustainable chemistry practices.  The second event, Chemists Catalyze Change, is a community outreach opportunity to show how chemists are catalysts for positive scientific and social change.

How might you educate people about the importance of reaction rates and about chemistry’s impact on our world during National Chemistry Week? We’ve got a few ideas!   

Celebrate with your chapter

Bond with your members
Host a guest lecturer specializing in kinetics and reaction rates. Hold a T-shirt, mug, or mask design contest. Get together for a movie night or potluck dinner. Build skills by taking the Outreach Training Program or visiting the ACS Career Consultants Virtual Office Hours as a chapter.

Join the Chemistry Catalyzer Game Show Event
Brought to you by ACS Program-in-a-Box, this event will be an online game show for fun and prizes. Test your chapter’s knowledge of the elements, history, chemistry in everyday life, and more. Registration will open at the end of August.

Enter the Chemistry Ambassadors Elevator Speech Video Challenge
Create a one-minute video for Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter explaining your passion for chemistry. Your chapter could win a $150 gift card! Winners will be announced on Mole Day (Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021). See official rules and how to enter.   

Work together to get funding
Whatever your plans, make sure you apply for one of the 2021 chapter grants to support your activities. These funds are earmarked specifically to give student chapters an extra boost in 2021, so take advantage of them!

Get your chapter in the NCW 2021 Album
Whether it’s outreach, contests, or game nights, share what your chapter is doing. Submit photos, videos, and screenshots to the NCW 2021 Album. Post to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with the hashtags and be sure to tag @ACSUndergrad:


Celebrate with your campus or community

Organize events to demo chemistry
Hold family-friendly outreach events at local shopping areas, museums, libraries, and community centers. Use demo activities geared for ages 5-8, as these tend to be easy to do safely in a public setting and are easy to discuss with nonscientists of all ages.

Advocate for science
On October 20, participate in Chemistry Advocacy Day by writing letters to your government officials to support pro-science policies.
Sign up for the free, on-demand ACS Chemist Advocacy Workshop

Create and share materials to educate the public
Create fun infographics or social media posts highlighting interesting facts about reaction rates that occur in everyday life.

Promote diversity and inclusion in STEM
Partner with a targeted society to advocate for more diverse representation in science; or bring speakers from different backgrounds and identities to campus for talks.

Resource: Diversify Chemistry

Celebrate online

Take outreach online
Use Zoom or other teleconference software to broadcast a demo to a class of young students ranging in age from 5 to 17. Or make an activity kit to mail to the teacher ahead of time and have the students do the activity, too.

Get competitive
Host an online illustrated poem or T-shirt contest. Or hold virtual fundraisers with companies like CustomInk, Bonfire, Inkd Apparel, ShopWithScrip, and Krispy Kreme Digital Dozens

Connect with your chapter
Teleconference software eliminates travel, so you can conveniently host a guest lecturer from almost anywhere. You can also have a fun trivia night with your chapter using Kahoot! or Jackbox or use a streaming service to host an online movie night.





Ages 5-8

Chemistry Goes Pop!
Do a simple experiment with a package of Pop Rocks to look at the ways temperature affects how quickly the gas escapes the candy.

Slowing Apple Browning
Test different ways of slowing down browning in fruit through chemistry.

Slow the Glow
When you bend a light stick to activate it, chemicals mix, react, and glow!  Do you know how to slow the glow so that the light lasts longer? This activity holds the key.

Fizz Race
See how you can make the fizzing reaction of Alka-Seltzer tablets go faster and slower.

Experiments – Heat: Energy on the Move
Heating a substance makes its atoms and molecules move faster. See if you can tell that heat makes molecules move!

Rocket Challenge
Build your own mini-rocket and see how high you can go!

Ages 9-12

Hot or cold: what makes it go? Test different reaction conditions to make glow sticks glow and carbonates bubble. Science background and demo available at

Catalysts pick up the slack
See how an enzyme in yeast catalyzes a simple reaction. Science background and demo available at

Ages 13-17

Milk of Magnesia Magic
Explore equilibria in this colorful acid-base experiment.

Activities for all students

Simple Kinetics Demo (K-12)

Illustrated Poem Contest
Assist your local section in hosting an illustrated poem contest.