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October 26, 2004 > American High Students Make a Difference with Mole Day

American High Students Make a Difference with Mole Day

by Praveena Raman

Honors and AP Chemistry students at American High School organized an innovative Make-A-difference Day project by having "Mole Day" for the community. The event was different in that it did not restore fields or parks destroyed by moles but promoted the love of chemistry with a fun event.

One might wonder what the blind moles that can play havoc with a garden have to do with laboratory chemistry. Chemistry students will recognize the pun on the word "Mole." A mole is also the term for Avogrado's Number, 6.02 x 10^23, a basic measuring unit in chemistry. One mole of any substance contains "Avogadro's Number" of molecules or atoms of that substance. This phenomenon was discovered by Amedeo Avogadro (1776-1858) but he received credit only after his death.

Mole Day is an International event celebrated worldwide to commemorate Avogrado's Number. It takes place annually on October 23rd from 6:02 a.m. until 6:02 p.m. (6.02 x 10^23). The idea to have such a celebration was started in the early 1980s with an article written by a high school science teacher and it grew in popularity. In 1991 a national organization, The National Mole Day Foundation, was established to get students and community members enthusiastic about chemistry.

Most of the foundation's members are High School chemistry teachers but it has grown to include college professors, industrial chemists, retired chemists, elementary and middle school teachers and community members interested in chemistry. The Foundation annually establishes a Mole Day theme and has a caricature/icon mascot to go with the theme.

Through the Foundation's newsletter, ideas for Mole Day projects are exchanged worldwide. Starting in 1993, a professionally recorded theme song has also accompanied the fall newsletter mailing. That same year, the first "National Mole of the Year" award was presented at the ChemEd conference and it continues to be given every odd numbered year. The award is presented to a member of the National Mole Day Foundation who has contributed the most to furthering the cause of Mole Day and chemistry education.

American High School Chemistry teacher Mrs. Candace Sykes has been celebrating Mole Day on October 23rd with her students for the past few years by making stuffed mole animal dolls and having a "mole breakfast." This year, since October 23rd fell on a weekend and it was also Make-a-Difference Day, she decided to have her students organize a Mole Day for the community. The students had not only organized the traditional Mole Day breakfast with waffles and "mole-ple" syrup but also had "molympics," with mole themed games such as "molscial" chairs. There was also a mole mascot walking around and entertaining the children and adults alike.

Chemistry students incorporated a fundraiser by selling Mol-UV (ultra violet) bracelets made of UV beads that changed color when exposed to UV light. The bracelets warn wearers when they are exposed to harmful ultra violet rays. Proceeds from the breakfast and the bracelets benefited the American Melanoma Society. According to AP Chemistry student Suraja Raj, "It was a lot of work, but people seemed to enjoy themselves and it went off well." Or in teacher Candace Sykes words "Its mole-erific!"

TCV would like to thank American High School student Suraja Raj for her assistance with this article.

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