The Practical Chemistry website
Submitted by sis on 29 April 2010
Reviewed by Tim Harrison, University of Bristol, UK
The Practical Chemistry website is a must for any science teacher or technician who wishes to engage and enthuse students in the excitement of experimental work or who wishes to demonstrate chemistry safely.
This resource, begun in 2006, is continually developing, and at the time of writing contains 213 hands-on and demonstration chemistry practicals. The practicals are grouped into four sections. The Introductory section contains some of the simpler experiments for those students just beginning their studies of chemistry. In the Intermediate section, the experiments depend on students having been taught some basic chemistry; in the UK, these experiments would target students aged 14-16. The Advanced section is aimed at pre-university students. The final section, Enhancement, targets chemistry teachers who want experiments that are instructive and fun for students who are perhaps in chemistry clubs, and those who wish to perform the more spectacular chemistry demonstrations suitable for events such as science festivals and open days.
Each experiment includes a brief introduction, notes on lesson organisation and timing, apparatus and chemical requirements, technical notes, procedure, teaching notes and, where appropriate, web links.
Before each experiment is published online, the organisers of the website test them so that they “will work in any school laboratory”. In particular, the team has attempted to make sure that all hazards are identified and suitable precautions noted.
A number of instructions on how to safely carry out standard chemistry laboratory techniques are also available. It should be noted that health and safety requirements may well differ from country to country, so this needs to be taken into account before use. Guidelines on health and safety are given at: www.practicalchemistry.org/health-and-safety.
Teachers who have exciting practical experiments may contribute to this body of work by submitting them through the website. Once they have been thoroughly assessed, the experiments may then become published online.
w1 – Nuffield Curriculum Centre explores new approaches to teaching and learning. See: www.nuffieldcurriculumcentre.org
w2 – The Royal Society of Chemistry is the professional body for chemists in the UK. See: www.rsc.org
w3 – CLEAPPS is an advisory service for practical science and technology in UK schools. See: www.cleapss.org.uk
For a list of all chemistry-related articles published in Science in School, see: www.scienceinschool.org/chemistry