Tony Tooth looks at some websites that may be of interest to chemistry teachers
The Chemical thesaurus
As promised in the July issue, I've revisited the Chemical thesaurus site. It's vast. The links to UK AS and A2 chemistry lead to a list of 547 and 404 reactions respectively. Although this sounds like a daunting list, it is made user friendly by excellent links that provide useful information on any of the species in a reaction. However, the real treasure trove I found is the Chemogenesis web book, which can be accessed from the thesaurus home page or directly via the link to website. For all of you who like to give students some background to topics on the syllabus, or for those teachers who want to avoid their A-level lessons stagnating, this is the place to go for useful information to enhance your lessons. For those of you planning to tackle the Pre-U syllabus there are sections on Van Arkel diagrams and molecular orbital theory which will prove useful. The author, Mark Leach, encourages comments, suggestions and queries from users.
The development of chemistry
This site presents a collection of articles by scientists who contributed to the development of knowledge about atoms and elements. The articles provide sufficient background and commentary to place the work in context. Included here, for example, is a transcript of Mendeleev's Faraday lecture performed to the fellows of the Chemical Society in the theatre of the Royal Institution on Tuesday 4 June 1889, which followed 20 years after the publication of his original Table as presented to the Russian Chemical Society. There are also contributions by Aristotle, Lavoisier, Dalton, Boyle and Gay-Lussac, each of which provides a fascinating historical background and context to enliven the teaching of many fundamental principles.
Salters' Chemistry Club handbook
Primarily aimed at the 11-14 age group, this site lists 31 fun activities suitable to run at chemistry clubs. For each activity there is a list of necessary chemicals and apparatus, and brief instructions. Missing from the printed version of the handbook are the teachers' notes but the instructions do include hazard warnings. Activities include: Fire writing, using a saturated solution of sodium nitrate as an 'ink' which appears as a charred image when ignited with a glowing splint; Handwarmers, which demonstrates the exothermic properties of dissolving calcium chloride and can be extended into a full investigation; and Cooking is chemistry, which would tie in well with syllabus work on emulsions.