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  • How are the sciences timetabled at KS4 in schools? (Draft)
    Take part in our online survey exploring models used for timetabling of the sciences at GCSE. The Royal Society of Chemistry is working with the Association for Science Education, Institute of Physics, Royal Society, Royal Society of Biology and Shift Learning to gather feedback from those who have a strong knowledge of how the sciences are ... more...
  • Are your students taking chemistry to the next level? (Draft)
    Do you teach chemistry to A Level, Higher or Leaving Certificate students in the UK or Ireland? If you do, we need your help with a short survey about your students' degere choices. We're seeing a downward trend in applications to study chemistry at university that isn't fully explained by any change in entries to pre-degree qualifications. We'd like ... more...
  • 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.

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

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Latest Posts

The Open UniversityYASS - the Young Applicants in Schools Scheme - is a fabulous series of Open University courses designed to give age 16+ students an early taste of university, and bridge the gap between school and higher education.

The Royal Society of Chemistry and Wolfson (the foundation supporting our excellent new Gridlocks resource) have helped fund Living without oil: chemistry for a sustainable future. Living without oil is one of a series of flexible, 10-credit YASS courses introducing key topics in science.

The course assumes no prior knowledge in the subject area or the wider sciences, but students must have good written English and baseline maths skills. If the UK is ever to become a leader in biofuels or plant-derived plastics, or become the 'Saudi Arabia of wind and wave power', we need more young people tackling the challenges of a post-oil world.

There are two slots for Living without oil, the first starting 18th Feb, and the second on the 12th May. If you, or anyone you know, wants to get an early head-start on this fascinating, and vitally important, subject, register via the YASS course page.

To get those budding post-oil scientists and policymakers started, here's a little inspiration.

Posted by Duncan McMillan on Feb 2, 2012 2:55 PM GMT
Augmented reality and chemistry. A perfect match, you might say, given the difficulty many have visualising chemical structures and mechanisms.

Augmented reality, if you're not yet au fait, is making computer graphics or information appear in real-time over live video. It has hitherto generally been used for some mobile phone information tools, such as Layar, or as a toy. Kids can bring their plastic Avatar toys to life with a webcam and a a piece of card printed with a special two-dimensional bar code.

Late last year a colleague pointed me towards this post by Dr Teeth about augmented reality chemistry education tools, and I've been meaning to blog about it since. It takes these playful applications of augmented reality into genuinely practical areas for education.

Augmented Reality - Chemistry Review from Sponholtz Productions on Vimeo.

I see lots of potential for this sort of thing, but if anyone knows of other chemistry augmented reality tools out there, speak up. I don't doubt that there's a lot more out there.

Spoonholtz Productions (the people behind this rather fancy tool) produce molecule visualisation cards free to download and use. If anyone has success using these in class with real students, let us know.
Posted by Duncan McMillan on Feb 1, 2012 5:00 PM GMT
What with the recent successful launch of our Visual Elements Periodic Table I thought I'd share another excellent periodic table resource, via the BBC's Look Around You site.

The Look Around You periodic  table, produced in fetching shades of purple and puce, highlights some hitherto less-well-known elements, such as: Toronto (To), Jazz (Jz), Goo (G), and Christmas (Xm).

Why not check out the rest of the Look Around You resources, including some excellent, if a little dated, schools science videos, such as this, on the wonders of sulphur (sic.)?

Posted by Duncan McMillan on Jan 31, 2012 12:12 PM GMT
Learn Chemistry is out there. It's roaming the internet, free and wild. But now begins the interesting part - where we hone and revise and tweak our one-stop-shop for chemistry education.

With that in mind, I'm pleased to report on two new developments.

First, we are adding loads of resources. At BETT and ASE we said we would continue to add chemistry education handouts, worksheets, videos, podcasts, interactive resources, and more. We plan to have uploaded close to double the launch list of (non-substance) resources by the spring. 

Second, we're responding to feedback and testing. We're improving the way search results are displayed; when our new algorithm goes live (very soon) search results will be ordered irrespective of resource type, allowing the most relevant and highest-quality resources to appear first.

There'll be more improvements to come, and we hope you'll continue to tell us how you want the RSC's Learn Chemistry to look, feel, and work.

In the meantime, here's a little reminder of why we teach, or learn, chemistry, courtesy of Abstruse Goose, and Marie Curie. (
Posted by Duncan McMillan on Jan 25, 2012 10:43 PM GMT

Learn Chemistry has launched!c9357b435754ee4bc16fd2eefbd7769b-huge-ase-team.jpg

No sooner has the new year begun than we've been as busy as proverbial nectar-drinking social insects.

Learn Chemistry, our new RSC Education resource website, went live on Wednesday 4th January, to coincide with our appearance at the Association for Science Education conference and show in Liverpool.

[Some of the RSC Education team, in front of the spectacular Visual Elements cake. From L-R: Duncan, Lorna (Doyenne of Learn Chemistry), Kat, Nicole, Rio, Ellen, and Amanda.]

Read on to find out about RSC Education and our International Map of Delegates! at BETT 2012...

Posted by Duncan McMillan on Jan 20, 2012 5:22 PM GMT
With trainee chemistry teacher numbers rising, and university chemistry departments re-opening, "what makes an effective science [and, presumably, chemistry] teacher?" is a question worth trying to answer. 

On 19th March the SCORE annual conference will attempt to do exactly that
, by exploring "...the characteristics of an effective teacher in the sciences...". more...
Posted by Duncan McMillan on Dec 23, 2011 12:04 PM GMT
Randall Munroe, the genius behind the wonderful 'romance, sarcasm, math, and language' webcomic xkcd, never fails to come up with something clever, fresh, and generally hilarious.

His last, 'Mnemonics', is a whimsical re-imagining of the acrostics and acronyms invented to help students remember ordered lists (remember SOH-CAH-TOA?, ROYGBIV?).

I wanted to share his new mnemonic for the SI prefixes, which made me laugh. Click the image for the whole cartoon (which isn't entirely appropriate for children):


If you've never heard of xkcd, and you have work to do, then click the 'random' cartoon button at your peril.
Don't say I didn't warn you.
Posted by Duncan McMillan on Dec 20, 2011 2:21 PM GMT
I've belatedly noticed data reported in the last Education in Chemistry, from 5th December - that the government has exceeded its chemistry teacher recruitment targets.

The number training to teach chemistry has risen 35% on the 2010 figure. This is great news. Even better, the calibre of primary and secondary teacher trainees has improved - more now have upper second or better degrees.

Have a look for yourself at the trainee census data on the TDA website.

[update June 2014 - TDA census data link now points to government web archive location]
Posted by Duncan McMillan on Dec 20, 2011 11:31 AM GMT

Current and former RSC Teacher Fellows will be showing off some classic chemistry demonstrations at the Association for Science Education Conference and show on the 7th January 2012 (11.30 -12.30,  Gossage Lecture Theatre).

This is an interactive presentation, featuring demonstrations that teachers can use in their own classrooms. Be prepared to participate!

UPDATE (16/01/12): Peter Hoare, one of the illustrious demonstrators at ASE, has supplied the associated powerpoint presentation, now attached. Enjoy!

Posted by Duncan McMillan on Dec 15, 2011 11:06 AM GMT
cb82a44c89ad98fc970ba085a5f725d9-original-2ase-2012-a4flyer-1.jpgThe Royal Society of Chemistry Education team will be making a splash at January's Association for Science Education (ASE) conference and exhibition, in Liverpool.

Come and see RSC teacher fellows and members of RSC's Education team at ASE 2012. We'll be hosting practical workshops, presentations, and a demonstration lecture, and we'll be launching our new LearnChemistry site, all at ASE.

To whet your appetite, here's a list of all RSC-hosted events at ASE 2012. For more information, email Throughout the ASE event we'll be at stand B28. I'll update this post with links to event and conference site maps in due course.

UPDATE (06/12/11): I've added a small campus map, below. The Red buildings denote the registration area and exhibition hall. The orange oval describes the Chemistry building and the purple oval describes the Chadwick Tower, both locations for our events outside the exhibition hall. I've also attached a high-res campus map PDF.

UPDATE (16/12/11): We earlier neglected to include the date and time of Saturday's big chemistry demonstration, now added.

RSC Events at the ASE Annual Conference 2012
Thursday 5 January
Practical workshop – getting to grips with quantitative chemistryebb80f72349b9d3d945ecf47d57e4acd-original-handbook-cover-and-campus-map-tbu-05-12-11---sml2.jpg

Dr David Everett, RSC Consultant
Dr Kay Stephenson, RSC Consultant
09.30 - 11.30  Chemistry, Schools lab 2
Embedding RSC Chemistry careers materials in science lessons
Dr Robert Bowles, Schools and Colleges Specialist, RSC
11.30 - 12.30  Chadwick, CTC2

Practical workshop - Redox and Electrode Potentials
Dr David Everett, RSC Consultant
Dr Kay Stephenson, RSC Consultant
14.00 - 16.00  Chemistry, Schools lab 2
Dr Lorna Thomson, Programme Manager Education Resources, RSC
16.00 - 17.00  Chadwick, CTC2
Friday 6 January
Practical workshop – getting to grips with quantitative chemistry
Dr David Everett, RSC Consultant
Dr Kay Stephenson, RSC Consultant
09.30 - 11.30  Chemistry, Schools lab 2
Dr Lorna Thomson, Programme Manager Education Resources, RSC
11.30 - 12.30  Chadwick, CTC2
Practical workshop - Redox and Electrode Potentials
Dr David Everett, RSC Consultant
Dr Kay Stephenson, RSC Consultant
14.00 - 16.00  Chemistry, Schools lab 2
Embedding RSC Chemistry careers materials in science lessons
Dr Robert Bowles, Schools and Colleges Specialist, RSC
16.00 - 17.00  Chadwick, CTC2
LearnChemistry Reception
RSC stand
Saturday 7 January
Demonstration lecture:
POPular colourful demos that will leave you bursting with ideas!

Dr Catherine Smith, RSC Teacher Fellow, University of Leicester
Mr Declan Fleming, ex-RSC Teacher Fellow, University of Bath
Mrs Anne Willis ex-RSC Teacher Fellow, Northumbria University
Dr Peter Hoare ex-RSC Teacher Fellow, Newcastle University

11.30 -12.30  Gossage Lecture Theatre

Saturday 7 January – Open conference
Education in Chemistry magazine – find out what we can do for you
Karen J. Ogilvie, Editor, Education in Chemistry, RSC
12.50 – 13.05  Open conference session, Exhibition Marquee
Posted by Duncan McMillan on Dec 5, 2011 4:47 PM GMT
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