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International Year of Chemistry celebrates worldwide kick-off


 Paris, France – The International Year of Chemistry was officially launched at the end of last week.

In December 2008, the United Nations proclaimed 2011 as the International Year of Chemistry (IYC 2011). The theme of the year is to emphasize the importance of chemistry for sustainable development in all aspects of human life.

The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) are coordinating this global event. Multiple activities are being held in individual countries, including Canada, to celebrate the IYC. The celebrations are aimed at increasing public appreciation of chemistry in meeting world needs, encouraging an interest in chemistry among young people, generating enthusiasm for chemistry’s creative future, and celebrating the achievements and contributions of Marie Curie and other women to chemistry.

The official international launch ceremony took place at UNESCO World Headquarters in Paris on January 27-28.

Celebrations in Canada are being coordinated by the Chemical Institute of Canada. Each month this year will see a commemoration of exciting discoveries made by Canadian chemists – including how to produce insulin for treating diabetes, how to extract canola oil from an inedible plant and how to detect fingerprints at crime scenes.

“The International Year of Chemistry is a global celebration, so we wanted to highlight the role that Canadian chemistry has played in improving the well-being of people around the world,” said David Dolphin, chair of the Chemical Institute of Canada’s IYC organizing committee.

Milestones in Canadian Chemistry, as well as profiles of some of Canada’s most prominent women in chemistry, will be published on Canada’s IYC website www.iyc2011.ca throughout the year.

A series of local and national events will also be held, including:

– a YouTube contest, where students will be eligible to win a total of $4000 in scholarships by producing a chemistry-themed video;

– a cross-country speaking tour by Joe Schwarcz, author, radio host and director of McGill University’s Office for Science and Society;

– Science Rendezvous, a day-long program where scientists will interact with members of the public in malls, coffee shops and libraries; and

– National Chemistry Week, where businesses, elementary schools, colleges and universities will hold lectures, lab tours and competitions to spark interest in chemistry.

Details about all the celebrations are available on the IYC website.