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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With thousands of resources on Learn Chemistry, it can be hard to find a resource that suits the lessons you’re teaching today. To help you to find what you’re looking for, we’re piloting a new tool which shows you our resources aligned to your curriculum. 

As teachers from around the world use Learn Chemistry, we’ve started off with curricula from a range of countries. We currently have most secondary chemistry curricula for the UK, USA, Canada and India.
Using the ‘Standards or Curriculum’ search, you can choose your curriculum and the grade or key stage that you teach. This will reveal a list of resources aligned to your curriculum. If you enter a search term, that can help narrow down your results to particular topics.
The ‘Content’ search option allows you to do the same curriculum alignment in the opposite way-select a resource and see how it links to your curriculum.
We know that the tool isn’t working perfectly yet, but we hope it’s a step in the right direction. We’re already planning some improvements to help make the tool work more seamlessly with Learn Chemistry.
If you have comments on the curriculum alignment tool, or suggestions on how we could improve it, let us know by replying to this post or emailing learn-chemistry@rsc.org.

Posted by Jenny O'Hare on Nov 20, 2014 3:51 PM GMT
The Royal Society of Chemistry’s annotated article series is designed to help students interpret and understand the information in journal articles. 

It’s 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.

As a result of user testing we’ve decided to change the name of the annotated article series, and we’d like your help to choose a new one.

Possible new names include:
  • Navigating journal articles
  • Journal articles deconstructed
  • Dissecting journal articles
Let us know your preference, or any better ideas you have, by replying to this post or emailing learn-chemistry@rsc.org. If you like the current name and don’t think it should change get in touch to let us know that too!
Posted by Rachel Purser-Lowman on Nov 19, 2014 4:55 PM GMT
A new 'how to format your bibliographic references' guide was published on Learn Chemistry recently. The guide tells you how to format references, notes and footnotes using the Royal Society of Chemistry's house style. It is based on the advice that we offer to authors wishing to publish their research in our high impact journals, as it ensures that all references are given accurately, clearly and with sufficient detail. Using our style in your own work will ensure that your references meet a professional standard, and that anyone evaluating your work will be able to see how you have used other people’s work to develop your own.


This guide forms part of a new collection of resources and tools we are developing in collaboration with the publishing team at the Royal Society of Chemistry. It includes our annotated articles, journal of the month series and the new 'how to' guides. It’s always worth checking with your university department what referencing style they recommend though, and if they have specific guidelines they want you to follow. 

Contact purserlowmanr@rsc.org for more information.  
Posted by Rachel Purser-Lowman on Nov 3, 2014 1:23 PM GMT
As you will have seen in the latest issue of RSC News we are working on a piece of research to inform how we should communicate with the public.

We are developing this project with a leading market research company, TNS BMRB and their researchers are eager to listen to your ideas and learn from your experiences in communicating chemistry to non-chemists.

We hope you can spare few minutes to take part in this online survey and help us in this important research. Thank you.
Posted by Stephanie Musson on Oct 13, 2014 12:44 PM GMT
The first of a series of ‘how to’ guides for university students was published on Learn Chemistry recently, looking at ‘how to read a journal article’. The guide was written by Katharine Thompson, an Imperial College librarian and was commissioned in response to feedback from lecturers and students that it would be useful to have resources in this area.


It's important that students have adequate support when it comes to reading and understanding journals. Journal articles are one of the main ways in which scientists communicate their most recent research to the scientific community and are a good source of information. At first reading journals can seem challenging; they are written for an expert audience in a formal style and follow a certain structure, which may be unfamiliar. It's worth helping students learning how to read them though, as it’s a skill that will come in handy whether they're writing up laboratory reports, literature reviews or project dissertations.  


The guide covers three key areas. Firstly how journal articles are structured and where to find specific content, what peer review is and why it is important, and lastly why and how to critique articles. Its three pages long, so isn't too long a read, and was designed to help students read and understand journal articles.

Next steps

The guide has been positively received and we're looking at expanding the range of 'how to' guides to cover other topics. A 'how to reference RSC style' guide is in the final stages of sign off, and should be on Learn Chemistry within a month. We're also looking at commissioning guides on how to search for scientific literature using databases and search engines. At the moment we're actively looking for guide authors, so if you'd be interested in writing a guide, or have an idea for one that you think we should commission, please get in touch through purserlowmanr@rsc.org.  

You can find the full guide at http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00001653/how-to-read-a-journal-article 
Posted by Rachel Purser-Lowman on Oct 6, 2014 2:59 PM GMT
Today marks the end of the free period of access to our online course Quantitative chemistry. We have been pleased to see lots of you making use of the course already and we’ve received some great feedback.
To coincide with the end of the free period we are launching a new online area, the ‘My record’ page, where you can see what courses you have subscribed to and track your progress. We have also introduced a certificate to be signed by your head of department, or performance manager, when you have completed all of the topics within a course. As always, we welcome your feedback on these new features.
The full price of the course is £50 for one user subscription for one year’s access. Discounts are available for teachers at a Learn Chemistry Partnership school and for our members.
Any teacher at a Learn Chemistry Partnership school will be eligible for 25% discount on our online courses. If your school is already registered, we will communicate the discount codes in the next newsletter and by email. Learn Chemistry Partnership is free to register for, and has many benefits, so if your school has not registered then visit our ‘Supporting organisations’ page to sign up now.
If you are a member of The Royal Society of Chemistry then you will be eligible for 50% discount on the courses and can apply this to your subscription in our online payment system. If you are the main contact for your teaching institution for the Learn Chemistry Partnership you can claim complimentary membership.
Posted by Stephanie Musson on Oct 1, 2014 5:06 PM GMT
The aspirin screen experiment is a freely available digital resource. The interactive tool enables students to undertake an aspirin synthesis, perform recrystallisations, thin layer chromatography and modify experimental conditions to determine the effect on yield.

This interactive resource introduces students to the aspirin synthesis and coaches them through the steps needed to complete a class practical.
Many students often report that some practical classes can feel rushed with objective unclear. Teachers often report that if they remind students of practical work completed last week many will not remember the details.  Feedback on our screen experiments to date suggests it does increases student’s familiarity with the procedure and therefore save precious class time.
The synthesis of aspirin is an example of an organic chemistry experiment which is a key requirement for key stage 5 (A-Level / BTEC) across all specifications. We have targeted this experiment as the first of a new kind of educational resource to support real life practical work.
The resource is divided into four levels, each of which are estimated to take a student approximately 30 minutes to complete either as homework or as an in-class activity.


Levels 1 and 2 are ideal pre-lab activities which introduce the experiment and can be repeated by the student anytime. This unique learning opportunity is designed to make it easier for the student to take part in the classroom practical.

Levels 3 and 4 are designed as ideal post-lab activities which allow students to investigate the effects of varying the conditions and reagents in order to optimise the reaction. It is based on real experimental data and is an excellent inquiry tool for students to make guided discoveries.

Built using HTML5 the resource requires no plug-ins or installations. You will need to ensure you are using Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer 10 browsers. The product also works on touch screen devices like Android tablets using a chrome browser and iPads.

Students will need to register and log in to the resource. This means that students can save their progress, score points and collect information on their own lab book as well as earn personal badges. These features are expected to increase the likelihood of the student wanting to repeat the activities to improve their skills.

The login user numbers can be shared with teachers so that the teacher can observe completed homework and review the lab books to identify areas requiring more explanation in class. At the end of each level there is a review section for students to reflect on their progress and draw some conclusions. We expect these reviews will be shown to teachers and discussed in more depth in class.

We are currently working on a new screen experiment on the topic of titrations to be released later in 2015. We will also be opening the new screen experiment section of the experimentation hub on Learn Chemistry shortly to reflect this and other available resource from around the web.

Posted by Lee Page on Sep 24, 2014 1:08 PM GMT
Supporting chemistry education is a key aim for the Royal Society of Chemistry. To make sure this aim covers all ages, we are excited by the work we are now doing to extend that support towards primary (5-11) education. 

Chemistry is not often introduced as a seperate discipline at this age range so we have taken the concious decision to support science as a wider subject. We are aiming to work with other organisations, teachers and schools in delivering new resources, materials and support tools that will result in improved science teaching and learning at the primary age range. 

This comes based off recent research which indicates children have developed aspirations towards science, and wider STEM subjects, by the age of 10 and earlier intervention and support is needed to ensure more children aspire to enter scientific careers paths after formal education ends. 

This focus on primary science is an exciting new direction for the work we do in education and will open up new audiences, along with new challenges, to promoting chemistry. We are already directly supporting groups of schools to secure a Primary Science Quality Mark (PSQM) and we are investing into new resources, for primary school teachers, to support how science is taught. 

This new direction is stil at an early stage and more news about our primary science work will be posted in the future. 
Posted by Marc Neesam on Sep 15, 2014 11:38 AM GMT
Do you run an after-school science club? Have you got an idea that will engage people with the chemical sciences? If so, we want to support you.

Objectives of the fund

We launched our Outreach Fund earlier this year to support advocates of chemistry to run events that provide people with an entry point into the chemical sciences. Through the projects that we fund, we want to raise awareness of the place of chemistry in people's everyday lives and develop the science communication skills of people who are already highly trained in chemistry, so that they can champion the chemical sciences , and do our outreach work for us!

Tiers of funding
We have split the fund into 3 tiers. Our small grants go up to £2,000 and enable us to fund a wide range of one off-events and novel ideas. We have already funded some brilliant projects, ranging from demonstration lectures all the way through to air shows
Our medium (£2,000 -£10,000) and large (£10,000 - £50,000) grants are for much larger programmes of activities than may span multiple years. These are yet to open, but we’re excited to see the applications that will come our way.

Application deadlines
We will be open for applications to all 3 tiers of funding on September 8 2014, with a closing date of October 31 2014. I’m happy to chat through any ideas that you may have before you submit an application, so if you want to bring a tried and tested activity to your school, or have always had a niggling idea that think you can make work, then feel free to get in touch at outreach@rsc.org.
Posted by Jonathan Wells on Aug 29, 2014 2:37 PM GMT
The Global Experiment 2014: the art of crystallisation is proving a real success. But credit for this success must be shared with all the teachers, parents and the participants themselves – thank you, and please keep submitting your data.

How to take part in the global experiment
The experiment is simple to do as it uses non-specialised equipment and readily available materials. It is ideal for students aged 7-16 as they can investigate the properties of five samples by dissolving, saturating and growing crystals. The experiment has been running for 4 months around the world in schools, homes, science centres and science clubs.
The experiment is available here http://rsc.li/ge2014 and will remain open to new data. So whether you have taken part already or not, have a go and don’t forget to post to our website. So far we have recorded over 12,000 participants across 4 different continents from Miami to Taiwan.
One of the best parts of the experiment is the ability to share and discuss your results. Use #globalexperiment on Twitter to share your experiment highlights. This is a great way to share your experiences of the Global Experiment as Ruth Lowe, a teacher from Old Lady’s Catholic College in Lancaster, recently did, following her trip to Uganda:
"Experiment data from Uganda
We took the alum and the magnesium sulphate with us on the plane but were not allowed to take the potassium nitrate due to its oxidising properties. A student in Kampala bought this for us and put it on the bus to Nyamirama - which is way out in the middle of nowhere.

We conducted the experiment in a laboratory which had just been built - it was therefore, the first time the students at Poullart Des Places Secondary School had used the new laboratory. The students were very conscientious and patient, and were particularly amazed at the amount of sugar which dissolved in the water. They were very pleased to receive their certificates and now proudly display their experiment pictures on the laboratory wall. It is so good to be able to carry out an experiment with basic equipment anywhere in the world”

The Global Experiments are designed to be accessible everywhere and this year we have provided video commentaries and translated instructions in five languages to help even more people take part.
So far, when you consider the likely errors due to the non-specialised equipment, the consistency and patterns in the data are looking very good. But don’t trust me – see for yourself! http://rsc.li/ge2014
We want to hear from you – do you like the global experiments and have ideas for the future?
The success of these collaborative experiments has been so good that we are very keen to do more. Next year’s theme is the International Year of Light and we will shortly be looking to develop a new global experiment. So if any of this has inspired you, whether is it light related or not, we know we do best when we partner with others. So whoever you are, if you have ideas get in touch with us at learn-chemistry@rsc.org.
Posted by Lee Page on Aug 22, 2014 11:56 AM GMT
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