Category → Chem Ed
Admit it. You have a Periodic Table of the Elements shower curtain. Don’t you?
Dmitri Mendeleev (and Julius Lothar Meyer, 1870) might have never predicted that his 1869 scientific tool would give rise not only to consumer products for the chemistry enthusiast but also a graphic visual adopted for all manner of non-scientific purposes:
The Periodic Table of Beer Styles
The Periodic Table of Drupal Modules
The Periodic Table of Typefaces
The Periodic Table of Islam
…and, for balance, The Periodic Table of Atheists and Antitheists
(yes, please add your own favorites in the comments below)
Well, my morning coffee Twitter feed brought me a new version that’s 1) about actual chemistry and 2) useful for educational purposes.
A story in this week’s Smithsonian.com Smart News displays the periodic table of the country of element discovery as constructed by Glaswegian chemistry PhD student, science communicator and dancer, Jaime B Gallagher (Twitter @JamieBGall). I’m reminded that the stories behind each element not only tell us history, but also how early chemists differentiated between the elements.
While Gallagher tries to give credit to multiple countries for some of the discoveries, debate will undoubtedly ensue. This is is good thing. It’ll get folks talking about chemistry.
Lithium, for example, was discovered by Swedish chemist Johan Arfwedson who liberated it from petalite ore, discovered by Brazilian Jose Bonifacio de Andrade de Silva while visiting the Swedish countryside. Swede Jans Jacob Berzelius named it lithos (for stone – think lithotrypsy). But it wasn’t isolated until the independent work of Sir Humphrey Davy in England and William Brande in Sweden. So while Gallagher is probably right to fully credit Sweden for lithium, one could make an argument that the UK flag should partially be at position 3.
The story might also get us talking about modern uses of the elements. For example, a large deposit of lithium has just been discovered in Wyoming, a find that’s likely to put the States in a better spot as international demand for lithium grows rapidly.
And while chest-thumping U.S. citizens might want to boast international superiority, we’re only tied for third (or fourth…with France!) for the discovery of 17 elements. The UK is tops with 23 followed by Sweden and Germany with 19 each.
Have fun looking at this table and consider using it in your science and public education efforts. There’s something here for everyone.
And before my graphic designer relatives chime in, yes, Jaime should have enlisted the help of a professional illustrator for color and typeface choices. But, hey, he’s already done the content legwork.
If you’re up on this lovely Saturday morning and looking for something fun and educational to pass the time, dial up wknc.org for the “Mystery Roach” radio show from 8 am until 10 am Eastern time.
There, I’ll be discussing the discovery of drugs from nature and the differences between herbal remedies and medicines.
The show, hosted by forestry and natural resources doctoral student Damian Maddalena, will be interspersed with psychedelic music from the 60s and 70s.
Maddalena is an experienced scientist-communicator whose show, named after a Frank Zappa song, celebrated five years last November. The Research Triangle’s independent weekly, INDY Week, recognized Maddalena last year as runner-up for both top radio show and radio host, a tremendous accomplishment for a science and music show in a highly-competitive media market.
Livestream at this wknc.org page
So, this was the dilemma I encountered this week at the day job.
In my position at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, we give public “Meet the Scientist” talks twice daily in our iconic multimedia space called the SECU Daily Planet in the new Nature Research Center wing of the Museum. The Daily Planet Theater seats about 50 folks on the main floor but is open on part of the 2nd and 3rd floors for visitors to peer into events there.
[See addendum at end of post]
Say it ain’t so!
Ever wonder why the public has an irrational fear of anything labeled, “chemical”?
Well. . .
The book section of Guardian Science has been running a contest since 19th November to win six books shortlisted for the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books 2012.
The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker
The Information by James Gleick
My Beautiful Genome by Lone Frank
Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
The Hidden Reality by Brian Greene
The Viral Storm by Nathan Wolfe
Lofty books, though I must admit to not having gotten to any yet (I’m currently stuck on Sid Mukherjee’s Pulitzer prize-winning tome, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer).
To enter the contest, one need only answer four “science” questions (and, sadly, be a UK resident.).
Let’s take a lookie-see at one of those questions:
Rob Nelson is an independent science education filmmaker now living in Charlotte, NC, with his equally talented wife, Haley, and their son. Together with his partner in Sweden, Jonas Stenstrom, Rob runs a company called Untamed Science.
In the video posted here, he addresses the biology and chemistry (!) of leaves changing color in the fall together with my boss, Meg “Canopy Meg” Lowman, Director of the Museum’s Nature Research Center. It’s a catchy introduction to the chemistry behind color change. Enjoy!
I need your help at the day job to show off chemistry to the masses.
Since joining our state museum in January, I’ve been a bit disappointed in general at how the world of chemistry is underpromoted across natural science museums. Even with all the hubbub over the Mars Curiosity rover and research lab, few folks know that the rover hosts a remarkable diversity of analytical chemistry instrumentation.
Saturday, October 13th is Chemistry Day at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, just before National Chemistry Week. My colleagues tell me that it is one of the smaller of our “Days” and “Fests.” Well, I want to change that and, yes, I’m using this blog as a bully pulpit to do so. (I hope that’s okay, my benevolent overlords.)
Well, here’s a position for you in Colorado Springs. From The Chronicle of Higher Education:
OPEN TENURE-TRACK POSITIONS
Colorado College, a highly selective liberal arts college with an enrollment of approximately 1900 students, seeks to fill five tenure-track positions for Fall 2013 in:
South Asian History I
Information about Colorado College is available at http://www.ColoradoCollege.edu.
Interested applicants should refer to the full job descriptions for each position found on the Faculty Positions page under Employment Opportunities, as they become available. Check the website for job closing date. Ph.D. must be complete or very nearly complete before starting date. Colorado College is distinctive for its modular “Block Plan” calendar. The academic year is divided into eight 3 week blocks. During each block, students take and faculty teach one course at a time, with a maximum enrollment of 25 students per class. Faculty teach six blocks per year.
The college’s unique academic calendar supports experiential learning opportunities such as field trips and service learning and lends itself to other innovative teaching and learning strategies. The college is committed to increasing the diversity of the college community. Candidates who can contribute to that goal are particularly encouraged to apply and to identify the ways in which they would bring diversity to our community.
As an Equal Opportunity Employer, Colorado College welcomes members of all groups and reaffirms its commitment not to discriminate on the basis of race, color, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, national origin or disability in its educational programs, activities, and employment practices.
I love Colorado Springs and have had the honor of guest lecturing at CC. Several of my colleagues have sent their kids to CC and they have done splendidly. It’s a tremendous learning environment.
RALEIGH, NC – Although it’s personal day job news, I’m certain this announcement will be of interest to C&EN readers in the Research Triangle area and others in the science communications community.
The SECU Daily Planet is the iconic centerpiece of the new 80,000 square foot wing of North Carolina’s flagship natural science museum.
The NRC addition will open to the public with a 24-hour program of Grand Opening events beginning at 5 pm on Friday, April 20.
The Grand Opening will be preceded by a formal Gala and After Party on the evening of Friday, April 13. Tickets for the Gala and After Party are on sale here but admission to the April 20th public grand opening – and every day afterward – is free.
Building upon a 130-year history of showing visitors what we know about the natural world, the Museum’s NRC will engage visitors in-person and online to experience the scientific process in action: how we know what we know.
And what exactly is the Daily Planet?