Pfizer-RSC collaborative project, Discover chemistry, to investigate maths provision in UK undergraduate chemistry courses
As part of its outreach strategy, the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is investing up to £1m over the next five years in a collaborative project, Discover chemistry, with education professionals at Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) to enrich the teaching of chemistry in schools, colleges and universities.
Dr David Fox, chemistry research director at Pfizer, is currently on secondment at the RSC for 15 months as part of Pfizer's commitment. High on the agenda for the RSC-Pfizer partnership is the provision of maths for the increasing number of first-year chemistry undergraduates who do not have maths A-level, or who lack confidence in maths. Fox told Education in Chemistry, 'I don't see how students can solve problems in today's chemical industry if they don't have fundamental maths skills to draw upon. It's not the repetitive skills we need, but the ability to analyse in a wide variety of contexts'.
According to Fox, as part of Discover chemistry, he would like to get a handle on how this crucial area is being approached by different universities, identify good practice and make it widely available. For example, Fox is currently collaborating with Gareth Price, professor of chemistry at Bath University, to evaluate its web-based resource, Quantitative chemistry, which focuses on algebra and logs in a chemistry context. Fox and the RSC team also want to establish which areas of mathematics are most urgently in need of curriculum support.
To meet these aims Fox is interested in hearing from individuals/university chemistry departments who would like to contribute to a consortium that could take this work forward. 'It could be that we need a mix 'n match approach or we may decide to develop new resources to address specific problems', he said. If you are interested in contributing to the maths consortium, contact David Fox.