Share this article

JOBURG schools, colleges and universities can get actively involved in a global chemistry experiment, called Water – A Chemical Solution, which is poised to become the biggest chemical experiment ever conducted.


WaterThe IYC experiment will focus on waterThe experiment is one of the initiatives outlined by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) and the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) for 2011, the International Year of Chemistry (IYC).

One of the goals of the IYC is to spark enthusiasm for and appreciation of chemistry among the youth. The main focus of the water experiment is on the technological solutions chemistry makes available in supplying clean drinking water.

College and university students, as well as learners of all ages are invited to carry out experiments adaptable to their skills and interests, and use equipment that is widely available at little or no cost. Results of all experiments will be captured electronically and pegged on an interactive global data map at the end of the year. This will also show the value of international co-operation in science.

The IUPAC and Unesco have appointed a multi-disciplinary task force to oversee the experiment.

The IYC2011 is designed to celebrate the achievements of chemistry and its contributions to the wellbeing of humanity. Its slogan is “Chemistry – our life, our future”. “The International Year of Chemistry will give a global boost to chemical science in which our life and our future are grounded,” says Professor Jung-Il Jin, the president of the IUPAC.

It will also commemorate the 100th anniversary of the awarding of a Nobel Prize to Marie Curie, a pioneer in the field of radioactivity and the first person to receive Nobel prizes for physics and chemistry. She was also the first female professor at the University of Paris.

On 31 March, the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in Newtown will host a workshop conducted by Professor Ewa Cukrowska to commemorate the life and times of Curie. It is titled A Woman in Science. Cukrowska is an analytical chemist at Wits University.


Sci-BonoThe Sci-Bono Discovery Centre will host a workshop to mark International Year of ChemistryThandi O’Hagan, the senior public relations and marketing manager at Sci-Bono, says similar workshops and programmes, including exhibitions, are in the pipeline for the entire year. For more information, telephone the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre on 011 639 8400.

Other events planned for the year include lectures, exhibitions and hands-on experiments exploring how chemical research can be pivotal in solving global problems involving food, water, health, energy and transportation. National chemical societies, educational institutions like the University of the Witwatersrand, industry, governmental, and non-governmental organisations will be consulted.

And Joburgers are invited to share their plans for the Year of Chemistry as this is the essence of the campaign. People could get involved either by taking children, from preschool age upwards, to visit industrial sites, including manufacturers, chemical producers, and metal and petroleum refiners. There could also be career fairs at schools at which professionals can give laboratory displays.

Chemistry is the branch of science dealing with elements and substances. It is essential to the production of food, medicines, fuel, and countless manufactured and extracted products. During the year, its art and science will be highlighted, as well as its essential contribution to knowledge, environmental protection and economic development, says Jin.

The idea for an international year for chemistry was mooted in 2006 and was endorsed by the executive board of Unesco in 2008. The online prospectus contains more information about the goals, activities, administration and timeline of the International Year of Chemistry..

Related stories:

Amphibian Ark sails to the rescue
Take a moment to look at the stars
UJ scientist part of world team
UJ joins science leaders