How would you celebrate National Mole Day? You could make a cake with worms, grubs, and slugs for your friendly, neighborhood mole. You could decorate the entrance to his hole with streamers and balloons. You could make up a song and march around the mole’s hole singing to the top of your lungs, “Happy National Mole Day!”
You could do all those things and it might be kind of fun, but it wouldn’t have anything to do with National Mole Day. It’s not about our little blind, tunnel digging friends. It’s all about chemistry.
Yes, and believe me it can be fun. For instance, National Mole Day is celebrated on October 23 from 6:02 a.m. until 6:02 p.m. There’s a cool reason for that. A mole is a unit of measurement in chemistry. One mole equals 6.02 x 1023. That’s 6.02 times 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10!
A mole is a mass (in grams) whose number is equal to the atomic mass of the molecule. A water molecule has a mass of 18 so a mole of water weighs 18 grams. You can thank Amadeo Avogadro for figuring that out.
While America was fighting for her independence in 1776, little Amadeo Avogadro was growing up in Italy. He became a distinguished scientist and cleared up the muddy mess of confusion about atoms and molecules. A mole was first called Avogadro’s constant, or Avogadro’s number. After all that hard work, he didn’t get credit for his discovery until after his death.
Amadeo had more interests than science. He was quite the revolutionary during the time that Napoleon was taking over northern Italy and so he lost his job at the University of Turin in 1821. They wanted him back in 1833 and he taught there for twenty more years. Amadeo and his wife had six children. Do you think they were all good at chemistry? He died in 1856.
National Mole Day was started in the 1980s after a high school teacher wrote an article with the idea in The Science Teacher. This idea bloomed into a full scale National Mole Day Foundation in 1991. This celebration gets teachers and students enthusiastic about chemistry. They even have their own pledge, song, and website. It’s a regular molepalooza! There are awards, jokes, and even National Mole Day products you can buy. The products feature our little underground friends, the mole. So the little critters can celebrate National Mole Day if they want, especially if they are interested in chemistry.
If you want more information about celebrating National Mole Day then check out www.moleday.org.
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