Overwhelmed by the available chemistry resources? Looking for new chemistry teaching ideas? Elementary Articles is the place for chemistry, education, and everything else.

Learn Chemistry websiteElementary Articles is the official blog for the RSC's Learn Chemistry - your home for chemistry education resources and activities.

 

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Research has shown that students can find it difficult to interpret and understand the information in journal articles, which can cause problems when they arrive at university and need to start using journals independently. As an organisation with a market leading journal portfolio and ambitions to encourage the growth of the chemical sciences by the dissemination of chemical knowledge, we decided to tackle this problem by creating an annotated journal article series.

The series is basically a selection of articles from a wide variety of our journals, and from a range of chemistry disciplines, that have been re-written by the authors into a standard accessible format and divided into set sections. The sections include areas such as looking at why the study was important, what procedures were used and what was the overall plan. The articles contain links to glossary terms, ChemSpider entries, related journal articles, books and relevant Learn Chemistry resources, such as videos of techniques, and resources on theory and activities. 



Ideally the articles will be used by students and teachers to enable better access to information in scientific journal articles, and to make students aware of the different ways that they can access information within an article. We have also just commissioned a guide detailing where to find relevant information within any journal article. This will be available as a stand-alone resource, and in addition will be linked to at the correct places from within the annotated article.

The second annotated journal article has just been uploaded, and you can find all of the annotated articles on Learn Chemistry.

This project is still in its infancy so any suggestions or improvements would be great. The selection process for these articles is still very much under review as well, so any ideas on what sort of article you'd like covered in the future, or any criterai we should use, would be welcome too.
Posted by Rachel Purser-Lowman on Jul 21, 2014 12:02 PM GMT
After what feels like a long time in the making, at 10 o’clock this morning, our Chemistry and Art Exhibition (that I mentioned in a previous blog) opened its doors to the public and within 5 minutes of doing so we had our first visitors!

Over the weekend we set up and steadily watched two of our rooms in Burlington House transform into gallery spaces.

          


We have a selection of different artworks from a range of different people and ages, including entries from this year's Bill Bryson Prize which came in all shapes and forms from videos to paintings.


          


We are also really pleased to currently have some of the artwork from three of the different artists from the Insight Radical project in Melbourne, Australia in our possession for these two weeks. 

          


The last sections shown in the photos above are a selection of some of the beautiful images from the 'Through the Lens' feature in our Chemistry World magazine and also some of the work from the ChemArt project down in Bristol ChemLabS outreach department. ChemArt is a really interesting activity where images of scientists’ work, e.g. microscopy images, are sent around to primary schools as a stimulus for creative writing and here at the exhibition we have some of the poetry as well as the corresponding images on display.

 

 

 

The exhibition is in our London building at Burlington House, Piccadilly and is open every weekday for the next two weeks from 10 am to 4 pm and is free entry so why not come along and see it for yourself!

Warning: this exhibition could change your perception of chemistry forever.

 

 

Posted by Geri Rosser on Jul 14, 2014 3:53 PM GMT
The new draft A-level chemistry specifications have recently been published and there have been substantial changes to the contribution and assessment of practical work.
 
In the case of AQA, a separate endorsement of practical work will be awarded to candidates and written papers will assess the knowledge, understanding and skills exemplified by 12 key practical areas.
(See http://filestore.aqa.org.uk/resources/specifications/AQA-7405-SP-2015.PDF)
 
The OCR specification contains a defined practical skills module which learners are supposed to complete over the duration of the course. OCR has identified Practical Activity Groups (PAGs) that can contribute to the separate practical endorsement.  
(See http://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/as-a-level-gce-chemistry-a-h032-h432-from-2015/)
 
We have mapped these against the resources available on Learn Chemistry so that you can quickly identify suitable practical activities for your needs.
AQA OCR Learn Chemistry resource
 Make up a volumetric solution and carry out a simple acid–base titration Acid base titration http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00000536/a-microscale-acid-base-neutralisation
 
http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00000432/titration-of-sodium-hydroxide-with-hydrochloric-acid
 
Note: look out for the RSC titration interactive screen experiment in 2015
Measurement of an enthalpy change
 
Enthalpy determination http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00000740/exothermic-or-endothermic
 
http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00000126/afl-how-can-enthalpy-changes-be-measured
 
http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00000437/heating-copper-ii-sulfate
Investigation of how the rate of a reaction changes with
Temperature
  http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00000448/the-effect-of-temperature-on-reaction-rate
 
Carry out simple test-tube reactions to identify cations and anions
in aqueous solution
 
Qualitative analysis of ions http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00000464/testing-salts-for-anions-and-cations
 
 Distillation of a product from a reaction
 
  http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00000754/the-fractional-distillation-of-crude-oil
 
http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00000692/extracting-limonene-from-oranges
Tests for alcohol, aldehyde, alkene and carboxylic acid
 
Qualitative analysis of organic functional groups http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00000549/the-formation-of-solid-derivatives-of-aldehydes-and-ketones-using-24-dinitrophenylhydrazine-bradys-test
 
http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00000553/the-oxidation-of-alcohols
Measuring the rate of reaction:
• by an initial rate method
• by a continuous monitoring method
Rates of reaction – continuous monitoring and initial rates methods http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00000449/the-effect-of-concentration-on-reaction-rate
 
http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00000744/iodine-clock-reaction
Measuring the EMF of an electrochemical cell
 
Electrochemical cells http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00000391/accumulator
 
http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00001158/kitchen-potential
 
http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00001290/make-a-gratzel-cell
Investigate how pH changes when a weak acid reacts with a
strong base and when a strong acid reacts with a weak base
 
  http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00001457/acid-base-solutions
 
http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00000703/indicators-and-dry-ice-demonstration
 
http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00000422/making-a-ph-indicator
 
Note: look out for the RSC titration interactive screen experiment in 2015
Preparation of:
• a pure organic solid and test of its purity
• a pure organic liquid
 
Synthesis of an organic solid and liquid http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00000543/observing-the-lowering-of-a-melting-point
 
http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00000287/aspirin
http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00000056/aspirin
 
Note: look out for the RSC aspirin interactive screen experiment to be launched for the new 2014/15 academic year
Carry out simple test-tube reactions to identify transition metal
ions in aqueous solution
 
  http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00000472/properties-of-the-transition-metals-and-their-compounds
 
http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00000757/reactions-of-positive-ions-with-sodium-hydroxide-microscale-version
Separation of species by thin-layer chromatography
 
  http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00000455/smarties-chromatography
 
http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00001301/chromatography
 
http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00000291/chemistry-masterclass
  Moles determination
http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00000452/the-volume-of-1-mole-of-hydrogen-gas
 
  pH measurement
http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00000405/testing-the-ph-of-oxides
 
 
To help improve student practical skills and understanding, we have been busy designing an Aspirin synthesis Interactive Screen Experiment (planned release  for the new 2014/15 academic year).  This exciting new resource will enable students to carry out an aspirin synthesis experiment, to purify and analyse their product, and investigate the effect of changing reaction conditions. The students will also get a unique online notebook to save and record their results.

 

By:
Simon Rees, chemistry teaching fellow at Durham University.
Lee Page, Royal Society of Chemistry education executive.







Posted by Lee Page on Jul 11, 2014 1:01 PM GMT
You might have heard about the RSC Teacher Training Scholarships. We’re offering a £25,000 tax-free bursary, and a great support package, to people with the potential to become exceptional chemistry teachers. If you, or someone you know, are starting a teacher training course in September, you can still apply for a scholarship until Sunday 27th July.

Everything you need to know about applying for a scholarship can be found on our website . We’re looking for people who will be great chemistry teachers, and also great ambassadors for the RSC. That means we want people with excellent chemistry knowledge, who are committed to teaching and who have the personal attributes to be a good classroom teacher. We do have some criteria that applicants must meet, so make sure you’re eligible before you apply.  

The application process is straightforward: fill in an application form online, telling us about your background and why you’d make a great chemistry teacher. We’ll invite the best candidates to attend an assessment day on Friday 15th August in London. Watch this video to find out more about the process.

Supporting our scholars

Our scholars get lots of support throughout the year, as well as lots of RSC goodies to start them off. They have an expert teacher mentor who arranges meetings throughout the year, and have the chance to attend a bespoke Continuing Professional Development course, designed especially for our scholars. They also get free RSC membership for two years.

Our first group of scholars are coming to the end of their training courses now, and finding jobs up and down the country. Congratulations to all of them, and we’re looking forward to welcoming our new scholars later in the year!
Posted by Elizabeth McLoughlin on Jul 3, 2014 9:46 AM GMT
More news from the Learn Chemistry development team. We've been busy on visible and not-so-visible improvements, which went live last week. 
 
  • Learn Chemistry has a new flatter, cleaner, design. We'll soon be making slight adjustments to this design, and expanding it across our range of learn chemistry sites (including Faces of Chemistry, Online Experimentation, and our Periodic Table).
  • The homepage has some new features, including faster access to our websites in a dedicated list, a focus on our users (students, teachers, and Higher Education), a simpler highlights panel, and a calendar widget to get your On this day in Chemistry fix.
  • Simplified search and browse tools. User feedback has shown that resource search or browse results are hard to use or filter. We've acted on that to simplify this experience.
  • We’ve added our PhET partnership to the homepage. Click to view all the chemistry sims produced in collaboration with the lovely folk at UC Boulder.
  • The RNIB audited our site late last year. We've made the first of what we hope will be a series of accessibility improvements.
  • We've squashed a few pesky bugs.
Finally, some housekeeping. Observant readers may have noticed the Elementary Articles blog was unavailable for a few days. Apologies for any disruption, but we're now up and running again.

We hope you enjoy using the new site!

Duncan

Posted by Duncan McMillan on Jun 30, 2014 12:20 PM GMT

As you may be aware, our theme for this year is Chemistry and Art with the aim to draw upon the links of the two in demonstrating they are not as far apart as you first think. We’ll be launching our newest website later this month showcasing chemistry and art throughout the ages.

 

As part of the Chemistry and Art project we are hosting and curating an exhibition this summer in London that aims to display different people interpretations of chemistry and art. The exhibition is a free event for the public that will be held in Burlington House, Piccadilly which is the Royal Society of Chemistry's London home and will run from 14th to 25th July from 10 am to 4 pm.

 

We are very excited by the pieces of work that we will be featuring, including work from Insight Radical, Chemart from ChemLabS Bristol Outreach, entries from The Bill Bryson Prize 2014 and images that have featured as part of our 'Through the Lens' feature in our monthly Chemistry World.

 

Insight Radical is an outreach project from Melbourne, Australia which is an "initiative which aims to create dialogue in the broader community about free radicals and their impact" which they achieve by hosting artists within their research laboratories. In this way the artists have been able to learn from the scientists and develop work based on this knowledge and vice versa the scientists have been able to learn about  artwork from the artists. The image below shows a preview of some of the work that we will be showing from Insight Radical at our exhibition.

 

 

The Pill Portraits by Anna Madeleine

 

 

This year’s theme for the Bill Bryson prize was linked with the chemistry and art theme asking the students 'Where is the science in art? Where is the art in science?', to which we had over 500 entries. We are very pleased to be able to show some of the entries from this year’s competition.

 

We will also be presenting some of Bristol ChemLabS Chemart which is "an activity using chemistry research images as stimuli for children's poetry or prose" organised by the science outreach department at Bristol University, ChemLabS. We will be displaying both some of the images and some of the creative writing that primary school students have produced from it.

 

Remember, entry to this  event is free, so why not come along and see the beauty in chemistry and the science in art!

Warning: this exhibition could change your perception of chemistry forever.

Posted by Geri Rosser on Jun 12, 2014 2:32 PM GMT
If you have been reading Education in Chemistry recently you may be aware that we have been developing a series of new courses for teachers. The Developing expertise in teaching chemistry courses have online and face-to-face components designed to complement each other.
 
Today we are launching Quantitative chemistry, the first online course in our new series, which covers topics such as conservation of mass, chemical equations, understanding the mole and titrations. This  course can be accessed free of charge, for a limited time, all you need to do is create a RSC ID when prompted. We asked some teachers to take a sneak peek of the course and we are very pleased with the feedback, Dr. Debbie Moore from Weatherhead High School described it as; "An invaluable teacher and teaching resource; easy-to-use, informative and inspiring".
 
 
Screenshot from the new Quantitative chemistry online CPD for teachers course
 
The Developing expertise in teaching chemistry series will be composed of 14 courses, each one designed to consider how students’ ideas about a particular area of chemistry develop and in doing so identify and address specific student misconceptions.
We will follow the launch of Quantitative chemistry with four more online courses throughout 2014. The face-to-face versions of the courses are also undergoing a phased launch throughout 2014 and 2015.
 
We have focused on developing online courses, as well as face-to-face, as we know that it is not always easy to find time to attend courses in person. While an online course cannot replace face-to-face training there are a number of advantages. These include being able to dip in and out of content at your own pace and the flexibility to try out strategies and activities in your own classroom while working through the course. Our online courses are globally relevant and accessible to all.
 
Visit the new homepage for the Developing expertise in chemistry series or go directly to the Quantitative chemistry page to get started today. As always we love to hear from you so if you have any feedback please get in touch at learn-chemistry@rsc.org.
 

Posted by Stephanie Musson on Jun 2, 2014 9:41 AM GMT
It is my pleasure to share the latest experiment on Learn Chemistry: The Global Experiment 2014.
 
Due to high demand we have grown our Global Experiment portfolio. This year the Global Experiment 2014 is themed ‘the art of crystallisation’.



By taking part you will get participants learning about dissolving, saturation and crystal growth. We have provided thorough instruction packs, lesson plans and a ‘how to video’ so we have made life as simple as possible when planning to take part.
 
The aim of the experiment is a compare your data with those around the world to see if there is a difference regionally or internationally in the size or shape of your crystals.
 
Taking part is simple as the experiment uses non-specialised equipment. It allows you to compare the difference between five readily available samples. But don’t worry if you do have trouble sourcing all the samples you can still take part with less.
 
This year we really want to maximise the feeling of collaboration when taking part in the experiment and so have added several new features to the data posting page:
  • The ‘how to video’ now contains captions for international users
  • Twitter is retained so please tell us about your experiment
  • There is a new social media feature – a Pinterest carousel. So if you submit a picture along with your data you could feature on the RSC Global Experiment website. We hope to get lots of really artistic crystal images and happy participants
  • This year we really want to push to global nature of the experiment and so have teamed up with the International Union of Crystallography. Together and with this experiment we hope everyone can take part in the International year of crystallography.
 Please take part and don’t forget to post your data to help make this another really successful Global Experiment.
Note the Global Experiment 2014 and 2013 will remain open to data posting for the foreseeable future so you can plan this into your lessons accordingly.
 
Please also regularly check the Collaborative Chemistry website as we regularly update this page with other experiments and citizen science activities selected from around the Web to help you Learn Chemistry.






Posted by Lee Page on May 30, 2014 4:39 PM GMT
Following on from my blog two months ago about our sponsorship of PhET simulations, our final instalment is now live on Learn Chemistry!

This time acid-base solutions, pH scale: basics and pH scale have been transformed from flash animations to HTML5, so they are compatible with all mobile and tablet devices.

Acid-base solutions can be used using the following starter ideas:

How do strong and weak acids differ? Use lab tools on your computer to find out! Dip the paper or the probe into solution to measure the pH, or put in the electrodes to measure the conductivity. Then see how concentration and strength affect pH. Can a weak acid solution have the same pH as a strong acid solution?



And pH scale is suitable for middle school students up to high school with different tabs for each one within the simulation. pH: basics takes the middle school level as a simulation of its own. Use the suggestions below to start your investigation of pH.

Test the pH of things like coffee, spit, and soap to determine whether each is acidic, basic, or neutral. Visualize the relative number of hydroxide ions and hydronium ions in solution. Switch between logarithmic and linear scales. Investigate whether changing the volume or diluting with water affects the pH. Or you can design your own liquid!


 
We have been exceptionally pleased with these internationally popular simulations. In the future we will be adding into Learn Chemistry links to all the other chemistry PhET simulations!

Enjoy your exploration!
Posted by Alexandra Kersting on May 23, 2014 12:48 PM GMT
Learn Chemistry has brought together two new collections of articles to help you develop your teaching practice even further.  Our collection of ‘How to…’ articles contains cutting edge teaching and learning guidance from experts in the field on topics such as using podcasts and wikis in the classroom and achieving success with ‘flipped’ teaching.



Our collection of ‘Pedagogic Research’ articles contain the latest findings in chemistry education, from RSC journals and around the web, as reported in David Read's column in the Education in Chemistry publication.  



A great place to find the latest research in teaching techniques!
Posted by Alexandra de Giorgio-Miller on May 19, 2014 12:47 PM GMT
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