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Committee on Chemistry Education


Number: 2001-046-1-050

Title: Introduction of small scale chemistry experiments - Teacher training

Task Group
: J. D. Bradley

Remarks: Interaction with UNESCO
> link to UNESCO Global Microscience Project to access Teachers' Guide & Students Worksheets

To introduce to teachers, inspectors and education officials the advantage of performing chemistry experiments on a small scale. This is to be done through introductory workshops in developing countries and countries in transition where hands-on experience will be provided under expert guidance.

Most chemistry educators agree that practical chemistry experiences are a vital part of education in chemistry. This is so, regardless of whether or not the students become professional chemists. Unfortunately concerns about costs, safety and the environment have conspired to prevent this in the majority of countries. Also unfortunately, in many countries there is no awareness of the possible solution to these problems in the small scale approach. Our objective is to introduce this awareness in a meaningful way, which means providing first-hand experiences in a workshop context.

We have now gained some experience with this strategy by working in cooperation with UNESCO (Basic Sciences Division). It is clear that the strategy is successful: the hands-on workshop activities, together with discussion sessions, allow the advantages of the small-scale approach to be recognised and considered. Overwhelmingly the conclusions have been very positively in favour and local educators and scientists have then taken the matter further. This usually requires them to find funds to run a pilot project over a 6-month period, in which UNESCO may or may not be able to assist them.

In the light of this experience, we are confident that a worthwhile concept of practical chemistry is being disseminated.

It has very wide appeal because it addresses a general need in the provision of meaningful science education, and is not linked to any specific curriculum or indeed any specific pedagogical theory. Long-term positive influences on the public appreciation of chemistry are also anticipated. To conduct further workshops requires the provision of an expert to lead the workshop and small quantities of equipment and chemicals for use in the workshop (normally designed for about 30 people). We envisage that the expert is a volunteer whose travel and accommodation costs need to be met: this would be in part an IUPAC contribution. UNESCO would be solely responsible for contributing the materials for the workshop. A truly global benefit to chemistry education - and hence to chemistry - can be envisaged. Hence IUPAC participation is appropriate.


> See previous Project 025/43/91

At the 8th International Chemistry Conference in Africa (8th ICCA), 30 July-4 August 2001, Dakar, Sénégal, Prof. Bradly presented a lecture entitled 'UNESCO/IUPAC­CTC Global Program in Microchemistry'. This lecture is published in Pure Appl. Chem. 73(7), 1215-1219 (2001) and reprinted in Chem. Int. 24(3) 2002.

The Microchemistry Teaching and Learning Packages are made available free of charge by the Global Microscience Project
> link to Contents (on UNESCO portal), Teachers' Guide & Students Worksheets (updated: 2006-01-02)

An update report has been published in Chem. Int. July/Aug 2006, p. 22.

Project completed

Last update: 26 July 2006


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