Tony Tooth looks at some websites that may be of interest to chemistry teachers
Crawling the web of chemistry
The ChemSpider site hosts 'a database of chemical structures and predicted properties as well as providing access to a series of property prediction algorithms'. This chemistry search engine aims to aggregate and index chemical structures and their associated information into a single searchable repository, which is made freely available to everybody. The site also provides a community for chemists to share data and ideas on chemical structures and reactions. The 'Predictions' link allows either trivial or systematic names to be entered and calls up diagrams of structures as well as accessing a variety of properties such as boiling points and enthalpies of vaporisation. The 'Search' link works similarly but provides data relating to structure and physical properties as well as links to external sources of information about the substance. This site will be useful to teachers looking for information for extension work and/or question-setting ideas.
The new Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) database of chemistry resources for schools and colleges can be searched by key stage, board and topic title. The resources available cover all age ranges, 5-11, 11-14, 14-16 and post-16, and are in a variety of formats (eg Word or pdf files, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, video clips, animations etc) or there are links to external websites. As this is a developing resource some search links as yet yield few or even no results but the 'tree-like' layout of the curriculum keyword search is user-friendly and it is worth coming back to check regularly for updates.
Free chemistry software
This page offers links to pieces of freeware and shareware that can be downloaded and which may serve to enliven topics such as names and symbols of elements, electro-chemical cells, formulae and alkenes.At the bottom of the page is a link to the Chemical thesaurus- which contains far more in the way of reaction detail than is necessary in UK secondary schools and FE colleges. However, a quick click around led me to discover that one of the 'categories' of reactions in the database is 'British A-level chemistry'. I'll investigate this in more detail and report next time. Meanwhile you could check out the website.
If you know of any websites that should be reviewed in Education in Chemistry, then e-mail the title or URL to: TonyT@kings-ely.cambs.sch.uk
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