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  • Why do we approve our own training courses? (Draft)
    As a professional body, we encourage all of our members to develop their technical and professional skills by undertaking continuing professional development (CPD). This can take many forms including formal, structured training courses. To help our members decide on valuable and appropriate training for their needs, we started a programme to ... more...
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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Global Experimenters, we need you!

  • Have you taken part in Mission: Starlight or plan to?
  • Would your students like to talk to leading space experts about their global experiment? (Perhaps to Tim Peake himself, finger crossed)
The UK Space Agency wants to celebrate the imaginative work linked to Tim Peake’s Principia mission that is being done by children of all ages by organising two schools conferences.

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These conferences will take place at the University of Portsmouth on Wednesday 2 November 2016 and the University of York on Saturday 5 November 2016.
Attendance at the conferences will be free, with travel bursaries available to help with the cost of getting to the venues.
Approximately 500 young people will be able to attend each conference. Those selected from the competitive application process will be invited to either give a short demonstration about their work or produce a display to exhibit at the conference.
Applications to attend can be from any individual, or groups of people of school age (up to and including A-Levels, Scottish Highers, BTECs and similar).
All applications must been received at the UK Space Agency by 12 noon on Thursday 15 September 2016.
Please note for a successful application the judges are looking for three things:
  1. What has been done by the students
  2. Why they should come to the conference
  3. What they would present, demonstrate or do at the conference
Find out more here.
If you are unsuccessful with your application to the Principia Schools Conference but are local to either the University of Portsmouth or the University of York please keep an eye out for the Outreach Days.
The Outreach Days will be more interactive, hands-on, for everyone to enjoy and we hope for lots of activities and sharing what you’ve been doing with space in school. We are expecting a lot of interest (especially if, fingers crossed, Tim Peake can be there).

Principia Conference Outreach Days – Tuesday 1st November for the University of Portsmouth and Sunday 6th November for the University of York. These will be open to both the invited school children from the conference day but also to the local schools and general public but it will be a ticketed event – for more information please keep checking this website for updates.

Best of luck.
Posted by Lee Page on Jun 30, 2016 9:37 AM BST

Tim Peake wants your students’ help
Has your school, community group or science club taken part yet?

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Introduced by British astronaut Tim Peake, your mission is to investigate materials that block or limit UV light using UV colour changing beads. Our global experiments are designed to challenge all ages and abilities, with resources that are easily sourced and affordable.

Tim’s involvement, along with the interactive nature of the experiments, makes this an engaging and educational way for students to understand just how important chemistry is in our world – and beyond. 
Mission: Starlight also encourages all participants to post their data to our website and receive a special Tim Peake message and participation certificates.

Join the global experiment today and you and your students can be part of something out of this world.

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We have been getting some great feedback via twitter (#globalexperiment) and emails from around the world.

Teacher, after attending a conference at the National STEM Learning Centre, York.
"Great ideas to take back to school. Kids will love these investigations"
A teacher from British School of Vila-real, Spain.
"Fantastic.  An investigation we can access for all ages with a focus on science methods and recording results"
Teacher, after seeing the global experiment demonstrated at the Cambridge Science Centre.
"I will order some magic UV beads and start some brilliant experiments with the children!"
Teacher having attended a Royal Society of Chemistry education coordinators after school network meeting, Blackpool.
"This session was brilliant!  Real-life application using everyday equipment - perfect."
Brown Owl, Belfast Girlguiding group leader, Northern Ireland.
“Fantastic experiment we all enjoyed it, science badges all around for our Brownies group”

Are you thinking about running Mission: Starlight but want a teacher / technician’s perspective?

Look no further, the global experiment from the technician’s cupboard

"We regularly run one of the global experiments with our Year 6 and 7 science tiers and this year we performed Mission Starlight. We identified this activity a week earlier to ensure we could collect all the equipment needed.

As technician that job fell to me. The requirements for the experiments are laid out in the guide and involved sacrificing a t-shirt and a sports top for the cause of science. Not too difficult.  Excessive staff room coffee drinking supplied me with enough milk cartons to cut up with no problem. Petri dishes got them lying about - same with tin foil and cling film. Finding sufficient red and yellow cellophane sweet wrappers was a challenge sufficient to promote me to maturity onset diabetes if I consumed the left over sweets, so I resorted to online retailers for my craft supplies and UV colour changing beads.

We had a happy time exposing our UV beads to the black light boxes and pupils were amazed at how fast the UV sensitive beads responded to exposure.  It gave us a great opportunity to discuss how we cannot see this radiation and the effects of UV on the skin. Trying the varying layers of materials for a space visor really surprised the students when seeing how quickly the protection could improve.  It was fascinating to see the reactions of our ‘challenging’ pupils to how useless cling film was at protecting you from UV. Note to self - use sunscreen!

This set of experiments was simple to prepare and easily accessible to the pupils who achieved reproducible results and enjoyed seeing their results on the global experiment map. This is something we will be doing again in the future. Win, win all round!"
Science technician from a school in Hertfordshire

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Posted by Lee Page on Jun 21, 2016 9:33 AM BST

Do you teach chemistry in the UK or Ireland? We need your help to inform our policy work on the chemistry curriculum.

The question of who should design the curriculum has been on the agenda recently – take a look at this blog post by Kristy Turner and this debate at the 2016 ASE annual conference. Many agree that an independent panel, supported by subject experts and specialists in designing curriculums and assessments, could resist frequent change at the whim of politicians.

Therefore, we are designing a chemistry curriculum for primary school through to pre-university chemistry. We are using analysis from teacher and student surveys, input from curriculum experts and representatives from interested sectors. This is not to try and initiate change in the recently introduced curriculum, but to inform our long-term view on the curriculum and in anticipation of future changes.

We have developed a framework for the curriculum in the form of Key Chemistry Concept Strands, which structure learning within and across different key stages.

We want to know what you think of these concept strands. Do they make sense? Would you have organised them differently? How would structure the curriculum as a teacher of chemistry? Let us know by completing our short survey. It should take no more than 10 minutes to complete.

Using your responses, we will start to design the content and context, the development of skills and the assessment, at each key stage, using the consolidated Key Chemistry Concept Strands as a framework for each.

Image © Shutterstock

Posted by Joanna Furtado on Mar 3, 2016 10:45 AM GMT

Chemistry teacherFrom September 2016 there are new practical requirements for GCSE science in Wales and England.

Are you concerned about introducing one of the new experimental techniques? Do you need resources to help students use apparatus? Looking for an interesting way to approach a particular topic? We can help!

To support the teaching of chemistry practical work, we have published a document that maps the requirements of the English GCSE specifications to Learn Chemistry resources. You can find all the specifications from the four main awarding bodies in England, both for combined and separate sciences. Download it here: English GCSE chemistry practical requirements

There's also an equivalent resource for Wales. We hope to add a similar resource for Northern Ireland in the following weeks.

The Learn Chemistry resources we've identified are intended to support your teaching. They suggest some exciting ways to demonstrate the techniques that students should become familiar with. They are not intended to be a scheme of work.

If you're new to Learn Chemistry, visit our dedicated experimentation hub for more ideas to increase engagement in scientific investigation, develop new skills and enhance students' knowledge.

Still not sure which GCSE science specification to choose? Read our earlier blogpost to help you make your decision.

Due to Ofqual rejecting the English GCSE science specifications for a second time, on 05/02/16, the content in the English resource is subject to any changes that occur in the re-drafting of the specifications. We will update the resources as the new specifications are accredited.

Joanna Furtado and Chrissie Maitland

Posted by Joanna Furtado on Feb 4, 2016 9:57 AM GMT

Confused about which GCSE science specification you should choose for your new Year 10’s in September 2016? Not sure how all the awarding bodies are differentiating themselves? Searching for some sort of coherent summary of the differences between them?

To help provide a brief, unbiased summary, we have put together a Learn Chemistry article which you can find here Looking at the third article on the Learn Chemistry resource page you will find a table containing the four main awarding bodies, their different science specifications for GCSE, and the extra offers they have to support teachers of GCSE science.  The hyperlinks in each box take you through to the relevant page for the specification, or the specification itself if it is accredited. The coloured key indicates whether a particular qualification will count towards Progress and Attainment 8, and towards the English Baccalaureate.


The main difference that you might notice from previous years are the schemes of work and syllabuses for KS3, with particular focus on the transition in Year 9 to KS4; other differences include Entry Level Certificates for lower ability students, which can run alongside GCSEs, and new STEM technical awards, which replace BTECs and Cambridge National Certificates at Level 1/2.

We hope this will help to equip you to choose your specification, when they are accredited, ready for teaching in September 2016!

Due to Ofqual rejecting the English GCSE science specifications for a second time, on 05/02/16, the content in this resource is subject to any changes that occur in the re-drafting of the specifications. We will update the resources as the new specifications are accredited.
Posted by Joanna Furtado on Feb 1, 2016 11:10 AM GMT
Are you looking for a free activity for your students during British Science Week? I’m a Scientist invites students to be the judges in this online X Factor style competition for scientists. Your students read the scientists’ profiles, ask them questions and have live online text-based chats. Students then vote for their favourite scientist to win £500 to spend on more STEM engagement.

This March the Royal Society of Chemistry is funding the I’m a Scientist Toxicology and Biochemistry Zones, as well as a Climate Change Zone just for primary school students. Your students will be able to have live chats with scientists all over the UK. Students can find out about their research, its applications and the variety of careers available.

I’m a Scientist runs between 7–18 March and is completely free for UK schools. The Toxicology and Biochemistry zones are open to all secondary schools and the Climate Change Zone is open to primary schools (Years 5 and 6). All teachers are sent a Teacher Pack with lesson plans to help introduce students to the event and make the activity simple to organise.

“I think the best bit of I'm a Scientist is the weeks after - I got lots of 'Miss, you know when the scientist said ...' ” - Teacher

Students become more enthused about science, learn that science lessons relate to real life, and see that scientists are normal people.

To take part, register before 1st February at:

To see the full list of March 2016 zones and to find out more visit: or email Josh in the I’m a Scientist team at or give him a ring on 01225 326892.

Posted by Jenny O'Hare on Jan 14, 2016 1:27 PM GMT
We’re looking forward to meeting many of you during the exhibition at the annual conference of the Association for Science Education 7–9 January 2016 where we’ll be focusing on how to put chemistry into practice. We’re holding seven free interactive workshops throughout the conference that give you opportunities to experience our new continuing professional development courses, explore primary science in context, discover careers in chemistry, involve your classes in a global experiment and get hands on with our spectroscopy kit for schools.
Have a chat with us and the other exhibitors about everything related to science education, or find out more about our opportunities for teachers and students. Visit Stand A4 to let us know your opinion on the support we provide through Learn Chemistry Partnership. New registrations and existing main contact teachers at partner schools will all get a free Top Trumps pack too.
We look forward to meeting you there! The exhibition is free and you can register as a delegate on the ASE’s website.

Royal Society of Chemistry sessions at the ASE Annual Conference 2016

Thursday 7 January
A Future in Chemistry: Find out how this digital resource can help your students take decisions about their careers. 9.30–10.30 am room LG13.
Spectroscopy in a Suitcase: See how your students can learn about spectroscopy through hands-on experience. 11 am–12 pm room LG14 
Global experiments: Involve your class in practical experiments and share their results with thousands of students around the world. 12.30–2.30 pm room LG14
Showcase: New online CPD courses: Experience a free course taster – as well as an extract from our face-to-face offerings. 3–4 pm room LG13
Friday 8 January
The Impact of Screen Experiments: Find out more about our pre-lab screen experiment resources that allow students to  complete their own unique experiments and record their results online. 12–1 pm room LG13
Surprising STEM: Relate classroom subjects and curriculum topics to students’ future options and pathways. In conjunction with the Royal Society of Biology, the Institute of Physics, Engineering UK and the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications.1.30–2.30pm room LG14
Primary Science in Context: Explore how you can deliver science in context, from effective planning to meaningful activities. 4–5pm room LG14
Posted by Helen Bache on Dec 4, 2015 9:57 AM GMT

As a professional body, we encourage all of our members to develop their technical and professional skills by undertaking continuing professional development (CPD). This can take many forms including formal, structured training courses. To help our members decide on valuable and appropriate training for their needs, we started a programme to formally approve training courses spanning a wide range of subject areas.  Courses are judged against a broad set of criteria by subject experts drawn from our membership and, if they are found to meet these criteria, they are awarded our seal of approval. 

What courses do we approve?

Approved training courses are listed on a database, which allows users to easily search for courses relevant to them. We already have around 100 training courses listed, offered by several different training providers and spanning a wide range of subject areas.  A number of our own courses for teachers have been approved, and it might not be immediately obvious why we do this. Quite simply, we develop our courses with the intent of meeting our own high standards, so it makes sense to put them through the same approval process showing they meet the same criteria we expect of other providers. 

Our courses for teachers – Developing expertise in teaching chemistry

Our online courses are designed to give users an in-depth understanding of key concepts in teaching chemistry. Courses can be completed the users’ pace, which allows them to try out new strategies and activities in the classroom before progressing any further. You can view all of our courses here.
We currently have six online courses available and a number of further courses in development, each of which will be subject to the same rigorous approval process as those by any other provider.

Posted by Florence Greatrix on Nov 27, 2015 1:35 PM GMT
We all like a bit of recognition for the skills and competencies we demonstrate at work. Praise from our colleagues and managers is great for giving us that on a personal level, but when you want something that you can really shout about within your professional community, that’s where gaining chartered status comes in to play. 
Chartered Science Teacher (CSciTeach) provides professional recognition of your achievements and demonstrates impact in science teaching and learning. In a recent survey of over 250 science teachers, 90% agreed that this is relevant to their careers. So if you have more than 4 years’ experience since gaining qualified teacher status (QTS) and can demonstrate the required competences, it may be time to apply.

Tips for a good CSciTeach application
When summarising your recent teaching practice consider the following:
•    How do you plan your lessons and other activities to ensure effectiveness?
•    How have you supported students to better understand scientific concepts?
•    When have you led a team or helped colleagues to develop their skills?
•    How do you make sure you keep up to date with key areas of scientific and pedagogic research?

Try to give specific examples and consider including figures relating to student attainment or qualitative evidence such as feedback you have received.

For more information and to download an application form visit our website and email if you have any questions.

Posted by Andrea McGhee on Aug 26, 2015 3:20 PM BST
We’ve created a new app based on our hugely popular Periodic Table website. The app includes our favourite features from the website, like an interactive slider which shows the elements change state as you increase the temperature and the discovery of the elements as you scroll through history. There are podcasts and videos about the elements too.

We’ve also added some exciting new features, including lots of new images. There are photos of the elements in their natural states, and pictures of real-life applications of the elements. For example, did you know that neodymium is used in microphones? And europium is used in Euro bank notes to help prevent counterfeiting?

You can also customise your Periodic Table app so you just see the things you’re interested in. You can adjust your settings to turn sections of data on or off, depending on what stage of education you’re at. For quick access to figures, we’ve also added a simple table where you can do things like sort the elements in order of increasing density.

The app is free, and is available for tablets and mobile phones on both Android and Apple.

Get it on Google Play 
Posted by Jenny O'Hare on Aug 11, 2015 4:55 PM BST
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