Content Structure

Content structure

Think About Molecular World

They [students] reveal great misunderstandings about the molecular world. So the difficulties and limitations are as a result of not spending sufficient time on getting them to think about this world, and spending too much time on doing. You know, we’ve got to spend some time, but you can’t spend too much time, I think, on a lot of the ideas that we do teach, and doing calculations and things that, really, no one else does. It’s really something that’s done almost like it’s make-work-type stuff.

Hacking Through the Forest

When we’re teaching ideas in chemistry, I liken it to hacking your way through a forest.  It’s all this detail.... and you can’t expect students to do the hard work of fighting your way through the forest or the jungle, unless they have a global view of where they’re going.

Learning a New Language

You're learning a new language as well as new concepts. There's lots of vocab, so terms like electrophile and nucleophile and many others. So learning the language, learning the code that we use, the curly arrow code, and then starting to apply that in half a dozen or a dozen or so different contexts, different reactions.

Central Concepts

They struggle with the language of chemistry.  So we sort of need to teach them the process and how to work out how to do these things.  We know that their tendency is just to attempt to memorise reactions.  Whereas if we can teach them to derive … find out what the nucleophile and the electrophile is then all they have to do is draw a curly arrow from the nucleophile to the electrophile, rather than trying to work out what the reaction is itself. 

Macrocropic vs Microscopic

I think for a lot of people, before they started chemistry, especially if they haven't done any chemistry before, they've got no real understanding of the difference between macroscopic things and microscopic and atomic sized things. We all know how important that distinction is.

Holistic Approach

I think personally the quicker the students can see that holistic approach to chemistry the better... Because that’s when they start to realise how cool it is.

Strong and Weak Acids

Students from high school might understand that vinegar for example is a weak acid compared to hydrochloric acid, but they never knew why. And you could then show them that with equilibrium, this is why. And all of a sudden they’re, 'oh, I’ve always known that I shouldn’t spill HCL on my hand, but I can spill vinegar on my hand and put it on my fish and chips'... Those sorts of moments can really... the students go ‘oh wow.’


The Basic Structure Of Matter

This understanding builds students' knowledge about the basic structure of matter which stimulates them to think in sub-microscopic level that provides the fundamental understanding for further chemistry learning.

Industrial Processes

Bring in industrial processes. For example, the Bayer process, which is the principal industrial means of refining bauxite to produce alumina (aluminium oxide). Talk about the conditions used for that. So how you can increase the yield of the reaction? The Bayer process is done at high temperatures and high pressures. This demonstrates ways to increase the amount of product.

Self-Darkening Sunglasses

Integrate applications of equilibrium along the way to draw back students' interest. For example, glasses that darken to sunglasses.


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