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  • 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.

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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Latest Posts

To celebrate their 50th anniversary this year, Education in Chemistry has teamed up with Spiring Enterprises to offer you the chance to win some molecular modelling kits for your school.

The task
We would like you to design a worksheet (a single side of A4) for a 16-18 year old student to teach them some aspect of chirality using molecular modelling, and submit it using the online form.

What are we looking for?
The judges will be looking for entries that show originality, creativity, clarity of communication, accuracy of science and appropriateness to the target audience. They will select one first prize winner and two runners-up. First prize is one Inorganic/Organic molymod (teacher) set and five Inorganic/Organic molymod (student) sets. Runners-up prizes (two available) are one Inorganic/Organic molymod (teacher) set.

The closing date for entries is Thursday 1 August at 12:00 noon (BST).

Submitting your entry
Entries should be submitted using the online form. Full instructions and terms and conditions are on the entry form.

What next?
Winners will be notified by email by 21 October. Prize-winning entries and those judged as 'highly commended' will be made available as shareable resources on Learn Chemistry. Good luck!
Posted by David Sait on May 7, 2013 11:36 AM BST
As per popular demand, Chemical Misconceptions – prevention, diagnosis and cure. Volume I: theoretical background by Keith Taber has now been added to Learn Chemistry. This resource includes information about some of the key misconceptions that have been uncovered by research and ideas about a variety of teaching approaches that may help avoid students acquiring some common misconceptions.

Each theory chapter can be used in conjunction with chapters of Volume II. These are shown in the linked resources section below the main chapter (shown below). There is also information on how to use the resource, additional reading and a keywords index to show in which section which topics are covered.

Next month I’ll be adding In Search of Solutions to Learn Chemistry. Add your requests for the next resource in line to Talk Chemistry.

Posted by Alexandra Kersting on Apr 22, 2013 4:31 PM BST
We recognise the Challenging Plants and Challenging Medicines resources contain a huge amount of information in the form of presentations, handouts, worksheets and experiment sheets for teachers and students. With 100 resources in Challenging Plants and over 50 in Challenging Medicines it is difficult to see how the resources link to each other and how seemingly biology-based resources are linked to topics taught by teachers every day.

We have now provided pedagogical overviews for Plants and Medicines, as well as spider diagrams showing how the resources link to each other.

The Challenging Plants Experiment resources can be seen as sets (shown below) of ‘preparation of salts’, ‘preparing and investigating inorganic complexes’, ‘analysing solutions using colorimetric measurements’, ‘rates of reaction’, ‘chemistry investigations’ and ‘plant chemistry/biology experiment’ – all areas a teacher needs to cover. These experiments can give a teacher the option to use a different experiment to demonstrate, for example, making salts, and do so with supporting material that gives the experiment a real-life context.

The handouts and presentations are also linked through subject areas (shown below). These materials can be used in conjunction with the experiments to form topics and possible project work.

We hope these will be a helpful guide to the mass of information available through Challenging Plants and Challenging Medicines!
Posted by Alexandra Kersting on Apr 17, 2013 2:11 PM BST
They belong to Christmas like turkey and mince pies: the Royal Institution (Ri) Christmas lectures. Each year they bring a touch of science straight to our living rooms.

The lectures are fantastic every year. But for us at the RSC, last year’s ones were even more special, because they focused on chemistry.

In his three lectures, Dr Peter Wothers – a chemist at Cambridge University – explored the chemistry around us. Filling the TV studio with lightning, explosions and burning flames, he looked at air, water and earth – three of the ancient Greek elements that tantalised alchemists for centuries – and the chemistry behind them. It was a fantastic display of why chemistry is fun.

But don’t worry if you missed the spectacle when the lectures were aired on the television! The RSC and our Learn Chemistry team partnered with the Ri to turn the best parts from the lectures into a set of teaching resources.
The resources are based around ten chemistry-related themes that Peter covered in his Modern Alchemist lectures. Many of them cover topics you are teaching in the classroom, such as atomic structure and the periodic table, radioactivity, climate change, the halogens and the alkali metals.

Dr Peter Wothers demonstrates the effect of altering the amount of oxygen present in the air

We have included background information, links to video clips from the lectures, questions and ideas for group discussion to help you teach these subjects. And if you or your students would like to find out more about a topic, you can easily follow the links to other Learn Chemistry resources on related topics.

We hope you enjoy using these new resources in your classes!

The Learn Chemistry team

Ps: If you haven’t seen it already, why not have a look at the Alchemy section on our Visual Elements Periodic Table?!
Posted by Richard Grandison on Apr 16, 2013 11:53 AM BST
In my role as keeper of legacy material, I have added the lengthily titled Chemical Misconceptions – prevention, diagnosis and cure. Volume II: classroom resources by Keith Taber to Learn Chemistry. This popular book has long been missing from Learn Chemistry and I hope our users will be pleased it has finally been added!

I am aiming to add a legacy resource a month, which will be advertised here on Elementary Articles and the Learn Chemistry Newsletter. If you have any requests for what to add next, comment below!
Posted by Alexandra Kersting on Mar 27, 2013 11:27 AM GMT
The Science Museum has launched an online poll to identify the top British innovations of the 20th Century.

Among the extensive list is X-ray crystallography (found right at the bottom of the voting page). The University of Leeds are championing this as William H. Bragg (the father of the father and son duo awarded the 1915 Nobel Prize in Physics) held the Cavendish Chair of Physics at Leeds from 1909-15, when the key experiments involving the first crystal structure determinations and the formulation of Bragg's Law for X-ray diffraction were carried out.

Take a look at all the entries and cast your vote here. Voting ends on 25th March so you've not got long to make your vote count!

Joanna Buckley is RSC Regional Coordinator for North East England and works with the education team.
Contact her at
Posted by Joanna Buckley on Mar 20, 2013 11:55 AM GMT
Fabulous news from Friday night's Education Resources Awards ceremony at the National Motorcyle Museum near Birmingham:

Learn Chemistry has won the 2013 Education Resources Award for 'Best Secondary Resources or Equipment - Including ICT'

The Education Resources Awards complement the large annual Education show, held annually at the Birmingham NEC. 
The judges' remarks in giving the award to the RSC's hub for chemistry education recognises the effort and energy RSC Education has put into developing Learn Chemistry:

“A high quality resource using  the opportunities offered by new technologies to present interesting, engaging materials that can be flexibly used and explored. The judges thought that Learn Chemistry was an inspiring, engaging, stimulating resource that could promote higher order learning – turning potentially ‘dry’ subjects into something interesting and exciting.”

For us at RSC Education and in the Learn Chemistry team, however, ths really exciting part is that we've got so much more to make and do with Learn Chemistry.

As ever, watch this space!
Posted by Duncan McMillan on Mar 18, 2013 6:00 PM GMT
The Big Bang Fair launches Thursday 14th March, and the RSC will be there!

The Big Bang Fair, and the associated National Science and Engineering Competition, is taking place at London's Excel Centre this year. the RSC will be in attendance for the first time, and we're sponsoring the special Royal Society of Chemistry Prize!

If you're visiting the show, come and see us at stand FCS4, in the 'Farm to Fork' section. We'll have:
  • A brand new chemistry iPhone game to show off
  • Against-the-clock chemistry challenges with our Gridlocks games
  • A live investigation into sunblock creams - do they work?
  • A sporty challenge, based on our 2012 Global Experiment
  • Fascinating spectroscopy demonstrations from Imperial College
  • Careers info, and more.
As for prizes, we have been working with the organisers to reward the best young chemists with the RSC Chemistry Prize. You can get involved, with our Chemistry Challenge worksheets. RSC CEO Robert Parker will be there to reward the winner(s). Ada Yonath, legendary Nobel Prize-winning chemist, was also present*. 

We've added Chemistry Challenge information for 2013 and 2014 to Learn Chemistry - check it out there, and be inspired by astronaut and former chemist Helen Sharman, or come and visit us at Big Bang!

[*CORRECTION 18/03/2013 - I'd formerly stated that Ada Yonath would be judging the RSC prize]
Posted by Duncan McMillan on Mar 12, 2013 2:57 PM GMT
Have you ever wondered what makes the lid stay on your shampoo bottle or why your bath foams up when you add bubble bath? Well, believe it or not, the answer is chemistry! Chemistry is in action all around the bathroom; so much so that the RSC have partnered with Croda to produce a brand new, interactive resource called Chemistry in your Bathroom.

Disarray: What your bathroom might look like without Croda chemicals

Chemistry in your Bathroom is a fun flash-based interactive resource that lets you explore where Croda chemicals are found and what they do around the bathroom. Hover over different parts of the bathroom to see where specific chemicals can be found and what effect they have. You can then download the related interactive PDFs – filled with videos, animations and interactive images, which help explain the chemistry behind soapy bubbles, fluffy towels, soft skin and much more… And at the end you can take a quiz to test what you learnt!

From frizzy to straight with the help of chemicals. Move your mouse across the
virtual bathroom to find out where else chemistry is involved.

It’s the first time we have used interactive PDFs and we really like them. But we’re keen to hear what you think about them as well. So get clicking around our virtual bathroom and let us know you feedback! We look forward to it.

We hope you enjoy using Chemistry in your Bathroom!

Posted by Richard Grandison on Mar 1, 2013 1:18 PM GMT
This year, Sheffield is hosting its first ever Festival of Science and Engineering from 10th – 24th March. Months of meetings, planning and hard work have come to fruition as the Festival encompasses the hugely successful National Science and Engineering Week (NSEW).

Sheffield is rightly proud of its two Universities and the two have worked closely together, along with local museums and industry-education groups across the city to create this extravaganza of science and engineering.
Take a look at the large programme of public events on offer, catering for all ages and tastes.
NSEW is a UK-wide celebration of science and engineering, organised by the British Science Association. You can locate all NSEW activities near you here
It is a great way to get involved with promoting chemistry in your local area. So what are you waiting for?!

Joanna Buckley is RSC Regional Coordinator for North East England and works with the education team.
Contact her at
Posted by Joanna Buckley on Feb 27, 2013 10:02 AM GMT
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