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A year of chemistry

92861107When: January 1 – December 31

What: Occasionally misleading or overly negative media coverage on issues like BPA plastic safety and drug recalls has given chemistry a bad rap. It’s a complex science in both theory and practice, but we are surrounded by the products of modern chemistry that range from mundane items like composite plastic lenses to lifesaving treatments like artificial skin. To spread appreciation and discussion of chemistry, the United Nations has declared 2011 the International Year of Chemistry.

Background: This yearlong event was envisioned by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry and declared by the U.N. in 2008. It aims to increase public appreciation of chemistry’s achievements, encourage young people to study chemistry, and to foster open discussion about the future of chemistry.

Story Pitch: Because it spans all of 2011, it’s a good idea to plan out your pitching events for the International Year of Chemistry. Chemistry education specialists and advocates will want to keep track of events, especially topics of sustainability and energy, and then connect the topics with curriculum to get students excited about chemistry. Those advocating for women in the sciences can use this year’s 100th anniversary of Marie Curie’s Nobel Prize as a crucial point to discuss the changing role of women in science and how to support future generations of women in the field. Chemical producers and researchers can plan deals, information sessions and sponsorships to coincide with important dates in chemistry research and take the time to highlight the advances in sustainable and consumer chemistry.

Story Hook: The U.S. has been lagging behind in science and math education for some time. What are the factors causing students to perform poorly and graduate with fewer science degrees? Keep the following in mind when making your pitch:

  • What are common misconceptions that people have about chemistry and the sciences?
  • Why is it important for people outside of academics to have a basic understanding of chemistry?
  • What challenges do women face when entering the sciences and what can be done about it?
  • What are some of the top concerns for the chemistry community and how are they being addressed?

Tips: Chemistry educators, research chemists and chemical manufacturers all make great points of contact to discuss current issues in chemistry throughout the year. Be sure to provide multiple contacts that are willing to be interviewed and referenced over the course of the year.


American Chemical Society
(202) 872-4600

The Association for Women in Science
(703) 372-4380

The International Year of Chemistry
(617) 358 0410

Tapping America’s Potential

–Researched, compiled & written by Nicholas Testa
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