Web watch: Josh Howgego looks at some websites that may be of interest to chemistry teachers


Illusioneering.org [link no longer available] is a website which provides videos and resources about magic tricks done with science. Each trick provides a fun way to break up a lesson with some 'wow' inducing demonstrations. After all, as Arthur C Clarke said, 'any technology that is sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic.' Each video also includes a brief, but informed explanation of the underlying science.

Illusioneering webpage

Source: http://www.illusioneering.org/

A range of topics are covered on the site, including chemistry, maths and physics. One illusion, the Instant freezing water trick is particularly relevant for chemists. In this demo, water appears to freeze instantly on being poured from one beaker to another. What is actually happening is that a super-saturated solution of sodium acetate is being poured onto a cold surface (the second beaker is, unknown to the viewers, pre-cooled) and quickly precipitating out. The white solid produced initially looks quite a bit like ice. 

Another fun example is Magically making a beaker change colour, using the iodine clock reaction. 

The project was initiated by Peter McOwan and standup mathematician Matt Parker from Queen Mary, University of London. The genuinely amusing videos and resource sheets are available to download free of charge from the Illusioneering website.

Crucial upd8

Upd8 have launched a new series of resources aimed at GCSE students in response to Ofqual mediated changes in exams.

Upd8 say the motivation for creating the new resource package was Ofqual's decision to impose changes to GCSE science assessment. From September 2011, GCSE exams will require students to apply knowledge in unfamiliar situations more often. Students will also need to explain how they plan experiments and construct extended answers (sometimes worth up to 6 marks) using evidence more often. The resources are designed to help teachers teach these skills effectively.

Many schools use the popular Wikid upd8 resources already in years seven and eight. The new set, called Crucial upd8 are set up in a similar way.

Upd8 is published by Sheffield Hallam University and the Association for Science Education, who operate it on a not-for-profit basis. Despite that fact, Crucial upd8 is quite a pricey resource. Costs range from £300 for a basic set of teaching tools, to £500 for the full set of resources in a virtual learning environment.

Contact and Further Information

Josh Howgego
If you know of any websites that should be reviewed in Education in Chemistry please email the title and URL to Josh Howgego.
Email: Josh Howgego