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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A quick shout out and chemistry-themed valentine's card goes to Richard Byrne, of FreeTech4Teachers.com, who featured Learn Chemistry in a recent blog post.

Free Tech 4 Teachers is a popular, and frequently-updated, blog that does exactly what it says on the tin. As every teacher knows free (or at least cheap, robust, powerful, and simple to use) technology is always in demand - which is why we hope Learn Chemistry will only grow and grow in popularity; all our resources are free to download and use.

And with Valentine's in mind, I thought I'd put a little sugar in your life, with the help of Learn Chemistry and Chemspider.

Happy Valentine's!
Posted by Duncan McMillan on Feb 14, 2012 5:16 PM GMT
Talk Chemistry has reached its 500th member! We have been anxiously watching the member count creep its way to 500! So Well Done to Andres Tretiakov for being number 500 and winning himself a bag of RSC goodies!

Talk Chemistry came into being on the 22nd March 2010, with just a handful of early-adopting online members.

Since then we've gone from strength to strength, with users answering questions on good practice with school VLEs to teacher's favourite chemistry experiments to understanding equilibria and making organic mechanisms fun!.

The bigger the community has become, the more diverse the conversations are! We want people to think of Talk Chemistry as the 'Ask Jeeves' of the chemistry world! Ask and someone will answer!

So if you are a teacher, technician or anyone else involved in chemistry education, join up, ask questions and be part of the Talk Chemistry community!

And roll on the 1000th member...
Posted by Alexandra Kersting on Feb 10, 2012 1:33 PM GMT
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. (http://abstrusegoose.com/430)
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
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