Web watch: Tony Tooth looks at some websites that may be of interest to chemistry teachers
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This Swiss website has an extensive list of videos of chemical demonstrations, which you will need RealPlayer software to view on your PC. However, each demonstration is also available as a slideshow or photos.
Originally designed to accompany a lecture series at ETH Zurich (a science and technology university), many of the videos could provide useful support for the teaching of GCSE and A-level chemistry. There are ca 200 videos on the site and some might offer ideas for demos that could be done 'live' in front of your class.
My favourites include: Crackling nitrate, in which charcoal is violently oxidised by molten KNO3; and Bengal light, in which sugar is oxidised in the presence of alkali metal salts used to colour the flames. Notes accompany each video to explain the procedure and the chemical basis of the reactions, including balanced equations.
I became aware of the wealth of services and information available through CLEAPSS during a recent training course, so here is a general reminder. If you're working in a UK state-maintained school or college then you're a member of CLEAPSS, which allows you access to most of its services.
And if you are thinking of trying out some of the demonstrations on the ETH Zurich website in your teaching lab, it would be well worth your while to remind yourself about PS69. None the wiser? Then try the website and scroll down to the link under PS69 Banned chemicals and other myths.
Probably the easiest way around the RSC's Chemsoc website is to use the site search, which can be found on every page. Alternatively, browse the site and you'll soon come across useful teaching resources such as the Visual elements Periodic Table, which is a graphical interpretation of the Table of elements with a new representation of the chemical elements based on the symbolism that surrounds them. Inspiration for the new designs range from the commonplace, eg nickel in baked beans, to the mythological, eg Oppenheimer's invocation of Shiva as the genie behind the destructive power of plutonium.
The Learnnet website is a comprehensive collection of educational materials for teachers and students of chemistry who want to learn more about the subject. Timeline is a visual exploration of key events in the history of science with particular emphasis on chemistry. This could provide a useful resource for extension work, especially at A-level, because each entry is accompanied by a series of additional links that will allow students to explore the idea/topic in more depth.
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.