Mole Day is a nationally recognized holiday that happens each year Oct. 23. Mole Day celebrates Amedeo Avogadro’s number (6.02x10^23) and international unit of measure in chemistry, also known as a mole. Moles are typically very large numbers used to count small things like atoms and molecules. Celebrating Mole Day is an effective way to help students make chemistry connections in the classroom and in everyday life.
Each year the National Mole Day Foundation chooses a theme for that year’s Mole Day celebration. The 2014 theme: “Mole-O-Ween.” Use the theme to create chemistry experiments using Halloween candy treats. Test sour candies like Lemon Heads or sour gummy candy. Melt the candy in a little water and add a spoonful of baking soda to the water. If the water bubbles, the candy is acidic. The reaction between the acidic candy, water and baking soda produces carbon dioxide gas which results in the bubbles.
Because a mole is both a unit of measure and a garden pest, measuring the impact a mole has on its environment helps students make the chemistry connection on Mole Day. A few weeks before Mole Day, divide students into groups of two or three and have them find a yard in their neighborhood that has moles. Measure the length, depth and width of the tunnels they burrow. Keep a record of how often the mole is active in the yard and what times and weather conditions seem to make the situation worse. Finally, calculate the damage caused by the mole in dollars by adding up what the homeowner will need to spend on grass seed, mole traps, fill dirt and water to repair the land and replace damaged plants. Have groups present their findings on Mole Day.
Of Moles and Mothballs
Mothballs are a natural mole repellent. Moles do not like the taste or smell of mothballs, and adding them to mole runs in lawns will send the little critters packing. Mothballs also have many other uses, and can make for some interesting chemistry experiments. Use mothballs for a chemistry demonstration on density by mixing together 1 tablespoon of vinegar and 1 tablespoon of baking soda in a glass of water. Drop three mothballs into the mixture and watch them sink to the bottom. After a few minutes, the density of the mothballs will change and they will pop back up to the surface and float on the water.
Rap a Mole
A few days before Mole Day, have students break up into groups and write a rap, poem or song about a favorite chemist or scientist. Students can use the music of a popular song, but must write their own lyrics based on the assignment. Have students perform their creations for the class on Mole Day.