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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The new draft A-level chemistry specifications have recently been published and there have been substantial changes to the contribution and assessment of practical work.
In the case of AQA, a separate endorsement of practical work will be awarded to candidates and written papers will assess the knowledge, understanding and skills exemplified by 12 key practical areas.
(See http://filestore.aqa.org.uk/resources/specifications/AQA-7405-SP-2015.PDF)
The OCR specification contains a defined practical skills module which learners are supposed to complete over the duration of the course. OCR has identified Practical Activity Groups (PAGs) that can contribute to the separate practical endorsement.  
(See http://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/as-a-level-gce-chemistry-a-h032-h432-from-2015/)
We have mapped these against the resources available on Learn Chemistry so that you can quickly identify suitable practical activities for your needs.
AQA OCR Learn Chemistry resource
 Make up a volumetric solution and carry out a simple acid–base titration Acid base titration http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00000536/a-microscale-acid-base-neutralisation
Note: look out for the RSC titration interactive screen experiment in 2015
Measurement of an enthalpy change
Enthalpy determination http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00000740/exothermic-or-endothermic
Investigation of how the rate of a reaction changes with
Carry out simple test-tube reactions to identify cations and anions
in aqueous solution
Qualitative analysis of ions http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00000464/testing-salts-for-anions-and-cations
 Distillation of a product from a reaction
Tests for alcohol, aldehyde, alkene and carboxylic acid
Qualitative analysis of organic functional groups http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00000549/the-formation-of-solid-derivatives-of-aldehydes-and-ketones-using-24-dinitrophenylhydrazine-bradys-test
Measuring the rate of reaction:
• by an initial rate method
• by a continuous monitoring method
Rates of reaction – continuous monitoring and initial rates methods http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00000449/the-effect-of-concentration-on-reaction-rate
Measuring the EMF of an electrochemical cell
Electrochemical cells http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00000391/accumulator
Investigate how pH changes when a weak acid reacts with a
strong base and when a strong acid reacts with a weak base
Note: look out for the RSC titration interactive screen experiment in 2015
Preparation of:
• a pure organic solid and test of its purity
• a pure organic liquid
Synthesis of an organic solid and liquid http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00000543/observing-the-lowering-of-a-melting-point
Note: look out for the RSC aspirin interactive screen experiment to be launched for the new 2014/15 academic year
Carry out simple test-tube reactions to identify transition metal
ions in aqueous solution
Separation of species by thin-layer chromatography
  Moles determination
  pH measurement
To help improve student practical skills and understanding, we have been busy designing an Aspirin synthesis Interactive Screen Experiment (planned release  for the new 2014/15 academic year).  This exciting new resource will enable students to carry out an aspirin synthesis experiment, to purify and analyse their product, and investigate the effect of changing reaction conditions. The students will also get a unique online notebook to save and record their results.


Simon Rees, chemistry teaching fellow at Durham University.
Lee Page, Royal Society of Chemistry education executive.

Posted by Lee Page on Jul 11, 2014 2:01 PM BST
You might have heard about the RSC Teacher Training Scholarships. We’re offering a £25,000 tax-free bursary, and a great support package, to people with the potential to become exceptional chemistry teachers. If you, or someone you know, are starting a teacher training course in September, you can still apply for a scholarship until Sunday 27th July.

Everything you need to know about applying for a scholarship can be found on our website . We’re looking for people who will be great chemistry teachers, and also great ambassadors for the RSC. That means we want people with excellent chemistry knowledge, who are committed to teaching and who have the personal attributes to be a good classroom teacher. We do have some criteria that applicants must meet, so make sure you’re eligible before you apply.  

The application process is straightforward: fill in an application form online, telling us about your background and why you’d make a great chemistry teacher. We’ll invite the best candidates to attend an assessment day on Friday 15th August in London. Watch this video to find out more about the process.

Supporting our scholars

Our scholars get lots of support throughout the year, as well as lots of RSC goodies to start them off. They have an expert teacher mentor who arranges meetings throughout the year, and have the chance to attend a bespoke Continuing Professional Development course, designed especially for our scholars. They also get free RSC membership for two years.

Our first group of scholars are coming to the end of their training courses now, and finding jobs up and down the country. Congratulations to all of them, and we’re looking forward to welcoming our new scholars later in the year!
Posted by Elizabeth McLoughlin on Jul 3, 2014 10:46 AM BST
More news from the Learn Chemistry development team. We've been busy on visible and not-so-visible improvements, which went live last week. 
  • Learn Chemistry has a new flatter, cleaner, design. We'll soon be making slight adjustments to this design, and expanding it across our range of learn chemistry sites (including Faces of Chemistry, Online Experimentation, and our Periodic Table).
  • The homepage has some new features, including faster access to our websites in a dedicated list, a focus on our users (students, teachers, and Higher Education), a simpler highlights panel, and a calendar widget to get your On this day in Chemistry fix.
  • Simplified search and browse tools. User feedback has shown that resource search or browse results are hard to use or filter. We've acted on that to simplify this experience.
  • We’ve added our PhET partnership to the homepage. Click to view all the chemistry sims produced in collaboration with the lovely folk at UC Boulder.
  • The RNIB audited our site late last year. We've made the first of what we hope will be a series of accessibility improvements.
  • We've squashed a few pesky bugs.
Finally, some housekeeping. Observant readers may have noticed the Elementary Articles blog was unavailable for a few days. Apologies for any disruption, but we're now up and running again.

We hope you enjoy using the new site!


Posted by Duncan McMillan on Jun 30, 2014 1:20 PM BST

As you may be aware, our theme for this year is Chemistry and Art with the aim to draw upon the links of the two in demonstrating they are not as far apart as you first think. We’ll be launching our newest website later this month showcasing chemistry and art throughout the ages.


As part of the Chemistry and Art project we are hosting and curating an exhibition this summer in London that aims to display different people interpretations of chemistry and art. The exhibition is a free event for the public that will be held in Burlington House, Piccadilly which is the Royal Society of Chemistry's London home and will run from 14th to 25th July from 10 am to 4 pm.


We are very excited by the pieces of work that we will be featuring, including work from Insight Radical, Chemart from ChemLabS Bristol Outreach, entries from The Bill Bryson Prize 2014 and images that have featured as part of our 'Through the Lens' feature in our monthly Chemistry World.


Insight Radical is an outreach project from Melbourne, Australia which is an "initiative which aims to create dialogue in the broader community about free radicals and their impact" which they achieve by hosting artists within their research laboratories. In this way the artists have been able to learn from the scientists and develop work based on this knowledge and vice versa the scientists have been able to learn about  artwork from the artists. The image below shows a preview of some of the work that we will be showing from Insight Radical at our exhibition.



The Pill Portraits by Anna Madeleine



This year’s theme for the Bill Bryson prize was linked with the chemistry and art theme asking the students 'Where is the science in art? Where is the art in science?', to which we had over 500 entries. We are very pleased to be able to show some of the entries from this year’s competition.


We will also be presenting some of Bristol ChemLabS Chemart which is "an activity using chemistry research images as stimuli for children's poetry or prose" organised by the science outreach department at Bristol University, ChemLabS. We will be displaying both some of the images and some of the creative writing that primary school students have produced from it.


Remember, entry to this  event is free, so why not come along and see the beauty in chemistry and the science in art!

Warning: this exhibition could change your perception of chemistry forever.

Posted by Geri Kitley on Jun 12, 2014 3:32 PM BST
If you have been reading Education in Chemistry recently you may be aware that we have been developing a series of new courses for teachers. The Developing expertise in teaching chemistry courses have online and face-to-face components designed to complement each other.
Today we are launching Quantitative chemistry, the first online course in our new series, which covers topics such as conservation of mass, chemical equations, understanding the mole and titrations. This  course can be accessed free of charge, for a limited time, all you need to do is create a RSC ID when prompted. We asked some teachers to take a sneak peek of the course and we are very pleased with the feedback, Dr. Debbie Moore from Weatherhead High School described it as; "An invaluable teacher and teaching resource; easy-to-use, informative and inspiring".
Screenshot from the new Quantitative chemistry online CPD for teachers course
The Developing expertise in teaching chemistry series will be composed of 14 courses, each one designed to consider how students’ ideas about a particular area of chemistry develop and in doing so identify and address specific student misconceptions.
We will follow the launch of Quantitative chemistry with four more online courses throughout 2014. The face-to-face versions of the courses are also undergoing a phased launch throughout 2014 and 2015.
We have focused on developing online courses, as well as face-to-face, as we know that it is not always easy to find time to attend courses in person. While an online course cannot replace face-to-face training there are a number of advantages. These include being able to dip in and out of content at your own pace and the flexibility to try out strategies and activities in your own classroom while working through the course. Our online courses are globally relevant and accessible to all.
Visit the new homepage for the Developing expertise in chemistry series or go directly to the Quantitative chemistry page to get started today. As always we love to hear from you so if you have any feedback please get in touch at learn-chemistry@rsc.org.

Posted by Stephanie Musson on Jun 2, 2014 10:41 AM BST
It is my pleasure to share the latest experiment on Learn Chemistry: The Global Experiment 2014.
Due to high demand we have grown our Global Experiment portfolio. This year the Global Experiment 2014 is themed ‘the art of crystallisation’.

By taking part you will get participants learning about dissolving, saturation and crystal growth. We have provided thorough instruction packs, lesson plans and a ‘how to video’ so we have made life as simple as possible when planning to take part.
The aim of the experiment is a compare your data with those around the world to see if there is a difference regionally or internationally in the size or shape of your crystals.
Taking part is simple as the experiment uses non-specialised equipment. It allows you to compare the difference between five readily available samples. But don’t worry if you do have trouble sourcing all the samples you can still take part with less.
This year we really want to maximise the feeling of collaboration when taking part in the experiment and so have added several new features to the data posting page:
  • The ‘how to video’ now contains captions for international users
  • Twitter is retained so please tell us about your experiment
  • There is a new social media feature – a Pinterest carousel. So if you submit a picture along with your data you could feature on the RSC Global Experiment website. We hope to get lots of really artistic crystal images and happy participants
  • This year we really want to push to global nature of the experiment and so have teamed up with the International Union of Crystallography. Together and with this experiment we hope everyone can take part in the International year of crystallography.
 Please take part and don’t forget to post your data to help make this another really successful Global Experiment.
Note the Global Experiment 2014 and 2013 will remain open to data posting for the foreseeable future so you can plan this into your lessons accordingly.
Please also regularly check the Collaborative Chemistry website as we regularly update this page with other experiments and citizen science activities selected from around the Web to help you Learn Chemistry.

Posted by Lee Page on May 30, 2014 5:39 PM BST
Following on from my blog two months ago about our sponsorship of PhET simulations, our final instalment is now live on Learn Chemistry!

This time acid-base solutions, pH scale: basics and pH scale have been transformed from flash animations to HTML5, so they are compatible with all mobile and tablet devices.

Acid-base solutions can be used using the following starter ideas:

How do strong and weak acids differ? Use lab tools on your computer to find out! Dip the paper or the probe into solution to measure the pH, or put in the electrodes to measure the conductivity. Then see how concentration and strength affect pH. Can a weak acid solution have the same pH as a strong acid solution?

And pH scale is suitable for middle school students up to high school with different tabs for each one within the simulation. pH: basics takes the middle school level as a simulation of its own. Use the suggestions below to start your investigation of pH.

Test the pH of things like coffee, spit, and soap to determine whether each is acidic, basic, or neutral. Visualize the relative number of hydroxide ions and hydronium ions in solution. Switch between logarithmic and linear scales. Investigate whether changing the volume or diluting with water affects the pH. Or you can design your own liquid!

We have been exceptionally pleased with these internationally popular simulations. In the future we will be adding into Learn Chemistry links to all the other chemistry PhET simulations!

Enjoy your exploration!
Posted by Alexandra Kersting on May 23, 2014 1:48 PM BST
Have you got a brilliant idea for teaching science? If so, you could win  up to £15,000 to show that it works.
Let Teachers SHINE is a national competition run by SHINE and TES to find some of the country’s most innovative teachers. They’re looking for truly original ways to raise attainment in literacy, numeracy and science. The submission deadline is 27th April.

The competition is free to enter and open to any teacher working in England. Up to 10 winning projects will be chosen by a panel of judges from SHINE, TES and our corporate supporters. Each one will then receive a grant of up to £15,000. This money will fund a year-long pilot to prove that it can achieve real  improvements in the attainment levels of disadvantaged students. The most successful initiatives may then receive further funding from SHINE and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. To find out more, visit www.shinetrust.org.uk.
It would be brilliant if there were plenty of innovative ideas submitted to this competition about raising attainment in chemistry!
Posted by Lee Page on Apr 2, 2014 9:26 AM BST
The Royal Society of Chemistry and Learn Chemistry are proud to sponsor the conversion of five PhET simulations from flash into HTML5. This means they will play now also nicely on a range of tablets and mobile devices, as well as desktop computers. They are also being updated, bringing their designs into 2014 too! The first simulations released from our partnership are Build an Atom, Beer’s Law and Concentration. These simulations are popular with teachers around the world due to the minimal language barrier and those with language included are rapidly translated by PhETs very active community.

      Beer's Law simulation

                            Build an Atom simulation

 Concentration simulation

But why? I think PhET can explain it really well in their own words:

PhET provides fun, interactive, research-based simulations of physical phenomena for free. We believe that our research-based approach- incorporating findings from prior research and our own testing- enables students to make connections between real-life phenomena and the underlying science, deepening their understanding and appreciation of the physical world.

The PhET simulations can help students visually comprehend the concepts by using animations to bring the invisible to life - Build an Atom and Build a Molecule (flash) in particular. Simulations can be explored in a freeform fashion using drag-and-drop, sliding and measurement instruments such as rulers, pH meters and thermometers. The user affects the responses immediately thus demonstrating cause and effect relationships.

All PhET animations are free to use and more can be found on their website. Look out for more RSC sponsored simulations in the next few months (pH and Acid-Base solutions)…!
Posted by Alexandra Kersting on Mar 24, 2014 5:02 PM GMT

At the Royal Society of Chemistry we have been working to develop a series of online professional development courses that complement our face to face courses and can be accessed via our new online platform.
We need your help to test it out - your honest feedback will help us to ensure that these courses are as useful as possible.
Enter the prize draw by reviewing the Quantitative Chemistry module and completing our feedback survey by midnight on the 24th of March 2014.
Thank you for your time and input, and good luck!
Additional information
To access the course you will be asked to set up a RSC ID – this is free and very easy to do.
Please use Chrome or Firefox to view the course while we iron out a couple of technical issues with how some aspects of the course are displayed in other browsers.
All fully completed surveys submitted before midnight on the 24th of March will be entered into the prize draw for a chance to win the Kindle Fire HD.
Link to course: www.rsc.org/cpd/teachers/online
Link to survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NCM7HC8
Terms and Conditions
  1. Talk Chemistry teachers have the opportunity to enter the free prize draw for the chance to win a Kindle Fire HD (the “Prize”).
  2. To enter the prize draw, complete the survey as described above.
  3. The prize draw closes at midnight on 24th March 2014.
  4. The winner will be chosen at random from all successful entrants after the closing date.
  5. The winner will be notified by email within one week of the closing date of the prize draw.
  6. Within one week of notification the winner is required to email confirmation of their postal address and acceptance of the Prize to the Promoter. In the event that the winner does not provide the required confirmation within one week the entry may be disqualified and an alternative winner may be chosen.
  7. The Prize will be sent by post on receipt of address confirmation from the winner.
  8. The prize draw is open to all teachers who must have reviewed the course material as described above and have a valid email address.
  9. All entrants must be aged 18 years or over.
  10. Only one entry per person per household.
  11. The Prize cannot be transferred and no cash alternative is available.
  12. The Prize is as stated and is subject to availability. In the event of the Prize being unavailable, an alternative prize of equal value will be provided.
  13. The winner’s details will only be used by the Royal Society of Chemistry for administration of the prize and publication of the prize draw winner as detailed below and for no other purpose.
  14. The winner’s name and country may be displayed on www.rsc.org or other social media websites within 28 days of the closing date.
  15. The winner consents to their name and county being disclosed to other entrants on request.
  16. Use of a false name or address will result in disqualification.
  17. Entries not completed in ‎accordance with these terms and conditions will not be accepted. No responsibility is accepted for any entries that are not submitted on time or in full or not received by the Promoter for any reason, such as corrupted web pages.
  18. Employees of Royal Society of Chemistry or any associated companies and immediate members of their families, are not eligible to enter the prize draw.
  19. By entering the prize draw, entrants agree to be bound by the rules and by any other requirements set out in the promotional material.
  20. The decisions of the Promoter will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  21. By entering the prize draw, entrants agree to be bound by these terms and conditions, which are governed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales.
  22. In the event that any terms and condition(s) are deemed invalid, illegal or otherwise unenforceable, they shall be severed from these terms and the remaining clauses will remain in force.
Promoter: Royal Society of Chemistry, Thomas Graham House, Cambridge Science Park, Cambs, CB4 0WF.
Kindle devices are given away on behalf of the Royal Society of Chemistry.
Amazon.eu SARL is not a sponsor of this contest.
Posted by Stephanie Musson on Mar 21, 2014 9:27 AM GMT
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