chemistry today and tomorrow

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Presentation given at the ICPAC conference Chemistry: The Key for our Future July 2-6, 2012 Mauritius. The presentation examines the status and popularity of chemistry and describes how the subject might be made more interesting and accessible by creating ‘hands on’ experiences for young people in developing countries where chemistry is vital to the nation’s economy. The proceedings of the conference have now been published in a book.


  • 1. Mauritius Chemistry Today and Tomorrow The Chemistry Aid Group led by PROFESSORANTONY RESTChemistry Aid and the Chemistry Video Consortium,School of Chemistry, University of Southampton, Southampton SO17 1BJ, UnitedKingdomEmail: Dr Ray Wallace

2. Chemistry Today The numbers of students opting for Chemistry andother Sciences are declining all over the world At the same time the world relies more and moreon science and technology WHY THE DECLINE IN NUMBERS? CAN THE TREND BE REVERSED?2 3. Chemistry Today Some Students Views Chemistry is too Abstract Chemistry is Boring Chemistry is Not Relevant 3 4. Chemistry Today Some Students Views Chemistry is too Difficult It is difficult to get good Grades Careers advice is Lacking 4 5. Chemistry Today Some Schools and Teachers Views Chemicals, equipment and facilities are tooexpensive Chemistry courses are difficult to put on There are safety, insurance and waste disposalissues Finding good, enthusiastic staff is difficult Poor grades penalise schools in league tables 5 6. Chemistry TodayPublic and Press Opinions Dont understand Chemistry Blame Chemistry for disasters, e.g. pollution,environmental damage and global warming Dont recognize all the good things that arisefrom Chemistry, e.g. pharmaceuticals, plastics,IT materials 6 7. Chemistry TodayGovernment Opinions Chemistry is vital to the national economy interms of industries, health of the nation, andinnovations for the future, e.g. Chemistry isworth 250 billion (x Rp. 14 ,000) to the UKeconomy each year Lots of careers are based on qualifications inChemistry Countries need home grown Chemists,Scientists, Engineers and Medical Practitionersrather than relying on overseas personnel7 8. Chemistry TomorrowQuestion: What can be done?Answer: Students need more hands on experiences Employ Some High Tech Solutions,e.g. Multimedia and IT Employ Some Low Tech Solutions,e.g. Use of Plastic Equipment 8 9. Chemistry TomorrowMultimedia and IT Solutions CDROMs and DVDs via Data Video Projectors Downloads from the Internet, Satellite,Mobile Phones and I-Pods Use YouTube and Facebook Use local and national Networking Adapt/customise international resources tolocal syllabus 9 10. Chemistry Tomorrow Low Tech Solutions Use of plastic bags Use of plastic trays and equipment10 11. Chemistry Tomorrow Use of everyday chemicals, e.g. frommarkets, supermarkets and the environment Make use of Science Days and Road Shows,e.g. a Chemistry Bus 11 12. Chemistry TomorrowQuestion: What happens if there is no power todrive the high tech solutions?Answer: Use solar energy generators 12 13. Chemistry Tomorrow Solar panel mounted on a classroom roof isbetter than mounting on a pole. The latter led to electrical losses through cable resistance13 14. Chemistry TomorrowExample of a kit for use in aclassroom: laptop and projector14 15. Chemistry TomorrowDells M109S projector a genuine laptop fed SVGAprojector requiring only 47 W makes a solar charged,battery-powered classroom projection feasible.15 16. Chemistry TomorrowProjected image in a classroom using a cell-phone as Bluetooth modem for Internetconnection 16 17. Chemistry TomorrowPractical output of 2x80W solar panels = 80 WattsPower requirements:Power rating of a typical laptop = 20 WattsPower rating of a Dell video /dataprojector= 47 WattsCabling, batteries and inverter losses = 10 WattsBattery used: sealed 100 Ah (fully charges from emptyover four days)17 18. Chemistry TomorrowPower system CostSolar panels $1000Inverter $110Charge/discharge conditioner $35TOTAL COST $1145ICT components CostDell projector $375Netbook computer $300External CD-ROM drive$40TOTAL COST $70518Total cost = $1850 19. Conclusions Using High and Low Tech Solutions enables students tohave Good Visual and Hands-on experiences ofChemistry perhaps for the first time Such approaches can help advance learners IT skills,especially in rural areas of Developing Countries These approaches use resources developed and proven inother countries and thus these can be cost-effective19 20. Acknowledgements Teachers in our careers Colleagues in the Chemistry Video Consortium Colleagues in Chemistry Aid, e.g. Jared Ogunde and Anthony Jadolah(Scientific Advisory and Information Network, Kenya), Jean Johnson andPat Johnson (Uganda, UK), Keith Wilkinson (Zambia), Jodye Selco (EastAfrica, USA), Colin Osborne (RSC) Publishers who have allowed materials to be customised, e.g. RoyalSociety of Chemistry (RSC) Chemistry Video Consortium, RoyalSociety of Chemistry & Nottingham Trent University for Sponsorship20