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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We’ve made it easier for you to find and use editable resources on Learn Chemistry.

You told us that you need resources you can modify. That’s why we’ve recently been increasing our provision of these on Learn Chemistry. For example, we recently made our hugely popular Starters for Ten series available as editable Word documents. View all the resources we provide in editable Word format.

Now, we’ve made it easier to search our editable resources on Learn Chemistry. Just select “editable handout” from the resource type menu:


Once you’ve selected a resource, click the button to download all the editable Word files available for that resource:


Licence information is provided in the Additional Information section – look here to see how you can share any changes you make with others:


Edit these resources to differentiate for students working at different levels, adapt to cover exactly the material you need, and modify based on the specific requirements of your exam board.

We encourage you to download and modify our editable resources. Please let us know how you get on – you can comment below or email us at learn-chemistry@rsc.org.
Posted by Stephen Hessey on Sep 4, 2017 1:55 PM BST
We’ll be shutting down the Learn Chemistry Wiki on 1st September. The Learn Chemistry Wiki is a community-edited hub, originally launched with the aim of sharing and editing chemistry teaching resources.

We’ve recently been reviewing and modifying the resources on the Learn Chemistry Wiki, to make sure that everything is useful to chemistry teachers, and easy to find.

We’ve found that not many users register and edit the wiki, so it’s not serving its purpose as a community-edited hub. Additionally, you can’t easily search the content in the wiki from within Learn Chemistry. Finally, it’s difficult for us to properly maintain user-edited content, so you can’t be sure of its quality.

Therefore, we will make the Learn Chemistry Wiki unavailable from 1st September. After this date, visit Learn Chemistry for all our resources. Until then, you can still access and save any wiki page.

You will still be able to access most of the support that the wiki provides in the following places:
  • Visit Learn Chemistry’s Experimentation Hub for experiments. Here you’ll find many of the experiments from the wiki, updated and with improved health and safety information.
  • Visit Learn Chemistry’s SpectraSchool for spectroscopy information. We are currently planning improvements to SpectraSchool, which you will see in the coming months.
  • Visit ChemSpider for detailed information on chemicals. ChemSpider also includes the structure drawing tool.
  • Get safety information from CLEAPSS (in England, Wales and Northern Ireland) or SSERC (in Scotland), advisory services providing health and safety advice and documentation for science in schools. Non-UK schools may wish to consult local authorities.
  • See our Bridging the Knowledge Gap and Practical Skills resources if you’re looking for quiz material.
If you have any questions about this or any of our resources, please email us at learn-chemistry@rsc.org.
Posted by Stephen Hessey on Aug 3, 2017 2:11 PM BST
Do you teach chemistry to A Level, Higher or Leaving Certificate students in the UK or Ireland? d0eef31b54e7354b837499cd291f4790-huge-ge

If you do, we need your help with a short survey about your students' degree 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 your input to understand why applications for chemistry degrees are in decline.

Tell us what you think.

© Brian A Jackson / iStock / Getty Images Plus.
Posted by Daniele Gibney on Jul 13, 2017 9:26 AM BST
If you’re a primary teacher, take a look at our primary curriculum linking documents on Learn Chemistry. We’ve recently added a version for Wales, so teachers can now quickly find relevant resources for teaching the fundamental topics of chemistry in key stage 2 of the Welsh national curriculum.

This complements our existing documents for England and Scotland. These show our suggestions for resources to support chemistry-related statements from the English National Curriculum (key stage 2) and Scottish Curriculum for Excellence (early to second level). In each document, you can click on a curriculum statement to see relevant resources. We hope this will help when planning which of our resources to use, and when.

We know that having resources mapped to the curriculum saves time. Take a trip to Learn Chemistry to see our full collection of curriculum linking documents.

Please do let me know how you get on with these documents by commenting below. It would be great to hear how you're using them, and what we can improve.
Posted by Stephen Hessey on Jul 6, 2017 12:43 PM BST
We would like to invite you to participate in a unique and important piece of research into practical work in science in England and Scotland.

This exciting three-year national study, part of an on-going programme of work by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, the Wellcome Trust and the Nuffield Foundation, is now in its final year. Preliminary findings from the first two years of the study are proving extremely interesting, giving a detailed insight into the impact of changes taking place in practical science.

The study would like to hear from heads of science, science teachers and science technicians from a wide variety of teaching environments to help develop a greater understanding of what practical work in science means in today’s schools and colleges.

Access the survey at www.cem.org/practicalworkinscience. It takes approximately 20 minutes to complete, and to thank you for participating, everyone who fills in the survey is offered a chance to win one of five £100 Amazon gift vouchers in a prize draw at the end of July.

Please ask as many colleagues as possible to complete a survey, so responses are gathered from as many heads of science (including heads of individual sciences), science teachers and science technicians as possible within each school.

Find out more information about the study here: http://www.cem.org/blog/practical-work-in-science-cem-wants-to-hear-from-you/.

This study is led by Durham University’s Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM) and School of Education and is funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, with a contribution from the Wellcome Trust. The project is part of an on-going programme of work by Gatsby, Wellcome and the Nuffield Foundation to understand and improve practical work in science education.
Posted by Stephen Hessey on Jun 2, 2017 10:28 AM BST
ChemNet logo

We recently told ChemNet members about changes to the service for chemistry students aged 14-18, and we want to share them more widely. Many adult RSC members and chemistry teachers have promoted our support for chemistry students and encouraged them to register with ChemNet. For that support and advocacy over the years we've been enormously grateful.

ChemNet comprises regional events, an online forum with careers and chemistry advisors, and information and resources for students. Last year we carried out a comprehensive review to decide its future, and we discovered that ChemNet isn’t offering its student members or their teachers what they want.

Students and teachers told us they value advice, resources, careers information, and events. The forum functions, accessed only by ChemNet members, were less useful. So we’re working on improving access to the most useful support for all, without requiring ChemNet accounts.

We have already removed the option to register new members. Other changes will come into effect in a few weeks (late June), when we will close the online forums and site, and stop providing ChemNet membership and student-oriented accounts. Until then the site will operate as normal.

Our educational events, news, resources, careers and chemistry subject advice (currently known as Dr Careers and Dr ChemNet) will be independently accessible to students and teachers alike.

How can you continue to engage young people with chemistry?

If you're a teacher or student:

If you're an advocate for chemistry and RSC member:
All of the above will continue after we close ChemNet and its website. If you have questions about the changes to ChemNet, or our resources and general support, please email us at learn-chemistry@rsc.org.
Posted by Duncan McMillan on May 18, 2017 1:27 PM BST
From January 2017 we’ll have a new education resource ‘theme’ to share with teachers across the UK and Ireland. 

Each school term we team up with our regional Education Coordinators to share and promote a handful of resources and tools for teaching chemistry in line with a particular theme. Previous themes have included ‘Bring your own device’, ‘Practical skills and assessment’, and ‘Space’. We publish the theme as a cardboard bookmark – a keepsake with links to five key resources.

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Our Spring 2017 theme will be ‘Inspiring young scientists’, and for the first time we’ll focus on Primary and Key Stage 3 (and equivalent) chemistry. The theme lists five resources selected from over 160 in Learn Chemistry, and includes a link to the whole set, now complete with rich supporting information to help teachers make better use of our resources for primary teachers.

Here they are: To access well over 100 primary resources (including those listed above), with supporting information and curriculum links, visit Learn Chemistry

All our theme resources are free to access on Learn Chemistry, but if you want one of our lovely bookmarks you’ve two options:
  1. Ask your local Education Coordinator.
  2. Download, print, and guillotine your own.
I think you should choose option 1. Our coordinators are experts in science education and outreach, and will be making particular efforts to support primary teachers in 2017.

Posted by Duncan McMillan on Dec 14, 2016 2:22 PM GMT

b2cba4ec9907726f9ffd37cfdbf68b70-huge-loWant to increase your confidence in teaching chemistry? Looking for fresh ideas for difficult topics?

From 5–7 January 2017 we will be at the ASE annual conference at the University of Reading. Whether you’re a specialist or non-specialist chemistry teacher, we would love to see you there.

We are running bite-sized professional development sessions on our exhibition stand. Each session lasts only 15 minutes and will be repeated multiple times throughout the event. There will be lots of opportunities to fit in time for discovering exciting new ideas for your classroom practice.

The sessions are:

  • Discover out of this world materials science (Key Stages 1–3)
    Have a go at a new idea for a science practical which is easily sourced and affordable.
  • How can I tackle misconceptions with scientific models? (Key Stages 3–4)
    Try a hands on activity you can use to introduce scientific models to your students.
  • How can I enhance my GCSE practical teaching?
    Learn more about the benefits of screen experiments for pre and post lab support
  • Bringing hands-on spectroscopy to your A-level classroom
    Take part in a spectroscopy in a suitcase workshop and find out more about how you can use it with your students.

The exhibition is free to attend, so come and see us on stand C33 to find out more.

Posted by David Sait on Dec 8, 2016 11:14 AM GMT
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.

              25efdcd0dd0b38d819281d4ee1334440-huge-pr      55e852b0cdefd3f0ef01fa549771afb7-huge-gl

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?

            55e852b0cdefd3f0ef01fa549771afb7-huge-gl          e1043de9ebccd05e726b1f5c0986b01d-huge-be

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
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