School newspaper of Academy of the Holy Names, Tampa

Mole Day Project is Cancelled

October 18, 2017

Monday, Oct. 23, 2017 marks Mole Day, yet this will be the first time in 21 years at Academy that there will be no main celebration.

A “mole” in chemistry is an SI unit of measurement that stands for 6.02 x 10^23. It is usually used to measure extremely small particles. The Mole Day tradition remembers and commemorates scientist Amedeo Avogadro whose original investigations led to the use of the mole.

In previous years, sophomore students would create mole projects, not of the SI unit, but of the small animal. They would build their moles relating to a theme given to them by their chemistry teachers. Last year, the theme was “Academy of the Moley Names.”

Photo Credit: Caitlyn Asher (used with permission)
Last year, Asher won the “Most Elaborate Project” award for her project.

Chemistry teacher Rebeca Zambrano began the Mole Day tradition in 1995. Since then, AHN has annually celebrated National Mole Day along with many other schools.

Zambrano said, “I went to a conference the first year I was at Academy, and one of the presentations there was about National Mole Day. I thought it would be a great addition to my curriculum.”

Ever since, students in chemistry have created various mole projects. Counselor Emily Pantelis made her mole when she was a sophomore in 2004.

Pantelis said, “I still have my mole from when I did Mole day. I loved it. It was the best part of being a sophomore. I ended up loving and excelling in chemistry after we had Mole day.”

Many sophomores agree that Mole Day is one of the best parts of chemistry.

Zambrano said, “Chemistry is a difficult subject, it requires a lot of time and dedication from students. I thought bringing in an art component would give students a respite from the difficulties of chemistry. Besides, I felt that it was the one celebration for sophomores to really make their year special. I felt that my sophomores needed that.”

Brielle Gentile (‘19) was elected Mole Queen when her class celebrated Mole Day last year. Each chemistry set nominated one person in their class to be queen. The nominations are based on the effort the student put into their project, and the spirit they had towards the event. After the finalists from each set were selected, there was a grade-wide vote.

Photo Credit: Brielle Gentile (used with permission)
The election of Mole Queen was started the second year Mole Day was celebrated in 1996.

Gentile said, “I won by two or three votes. I was so shocked and sad when heard it was canceled. I’ve been here since kindergarten and I remember seeing all of the mole projects throughout the years. I am happy that I am the last ever Mole Queen, I’m glad that’s my legacy at Academy.”

The Mole Day project was stopped this year because administration agreed it was not educational.

Principal Stephanie Nitchals said, “I encouraged the science department to discontinue the project because it was not scientifically based.”

Many sophomores disagree with the administration’s decision.

Reagan Finch (‘20) felt “incredibly upset” when she discovered her class would not participate in the celebration or project: “I’ve been looking forward to mole day since Kindergarten. Looking at all the stuffed moles in the library sparked an interest in me to learn chemistry. I hope that we can somehow continue the mole tradition for our class.”

Olivia Perez (‘20) said, “The theme of this [school] year is ‘Embracing Tradition’. I don’t understand why this well-loved tradition has to stop.”

Photo Credit: Mei Lamison/Achona Online
Students were encouraged to be creative and inventive when making their moles. Some even went to the extent of making their projects electronic and battery operated.

Although the main annual celebration will be stopped, sophomores will still do various activities regarding Mole Day in their own chemistry classes.

Pantelis said, “I’m sad to hear that it was canceled, but I really think that there are things that you guys are going to do in class to commemorate it. Mole Day can never be canceled. It’s still Mole Day.”

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  • Annie MilewskiOct 26, 2017 at 10:19 am

    Such a unique and whimsical tradition to end…I know it stands out in nearly every alumna’s mind when looking back on her Academy experience, so it is very sad to see it end. Though it might not be considered educational to some, it generated excitement about a challenging subject and was an inclusive exercise. It didn’t matter if you were an A+ chem student or if you were struggling with the periodic table, everyone was invited and celebrated.
    I would understand if hosting the event was financially burdensome in some way, but it is genuinely a grassroots effort by the students outside of classroom hours. The power of an engaged audience is underestimated, so I hope there is a plan to develop an alternative that excites and inspires.

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  • Edie BackmanOct 25, 2017 at 8:38 am

    My daughter’s love of science was ignited in Mrs. Z’s chemistry class. Mole Day celebrations contributed to making chemistry fun and we still share memories of those celebrations.. It is hard to understand the need to do away with this Academy tradition. This chemistry class was the beginning of her love of science and excitement in learning. My daughter is now working towards a PhD in chemistry at MIT. This directive may be well intentioned yet it is utterly unnecessary and disappointing. I am grateful for the extraordinary teachers who make up the Academy’s science department. I would trust their decisions to develop engaging and educational science curriculum.

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  • EmilyOct 24, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    Incredibly disappointed to hear this. The mole project and mole day were part of my favorite memories from sophomore year. This project made part of the learning process fun. As a graduate of academy now in graduate school for engineering I can confidently say that completing this project did not affect my education, it actually INCREASED my interest in science. Hope they realize that cancelling this project is a huge mistake.

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  • Sophia GuerraOct 24, 2017 at 11:24 am

    I graduated Academy of the Holy Names in 2015. Mole Day was one of my favorite memories of my four years at Academy. It was something completely unique to the school. Every year, the sophomore class would come together in their first bonding experience to create the moles. It was one of the best activities to integrate creativity and science. It is extremely disappointing that this new administration would cancel such an integral part of Academy’s traditions. One of the main reasons I loved my high school experience is because I could connect with past AHN graduates through the traditions the school has. If the administration is canceling a tradition that makes sophomores excited about an SI unit, when will they stop? Canceling ring ceremony? Closing the senior lounge? This school lives and breathes by the traditions that built it. It makes me extremely sad for the future students of Academy of the Holy Names.

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  • Caroline KimblerOct 24, 2017 at 11:07 am

    It’s sad to hear that someone who is new to the Academy of the Holy Names community would have the audacity to say this project is uneducational. While it may not teach you directly about atoms and ions it does teach the young women how to sew, be creative, and how to bring an idea to life in an unconventional manner. This one day event is not going to be the difference in someone passing organic chemistry or not but it will be the one event that future generations will no longer get to experience like their previous academy sisters had the pleasure of participating in. Are they going to take away the dozen roses the girls get when they graduate too, like the have since 1881 because the roses have nothing to do with competing the requirements of a high school education?

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  • Liz BenjaminOct 22, 2017 at 7:33 pm

    Wow…. I’m heartbroken….

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