Monday, April 28, 2014

Inspire sixth formers with a story about graphene and UK Chemical Manufacturers Thomas Swan

Graphene is an amazingly useful form of carbon.

Consisting of a sheet of carbon 1 atom thick it:
  • is a 2D honeycomb structure
  • can conduct electricity better than copper
  • is about 100 times stronger than steel
Now scientists are trying to make graphene on an industrial scale with the help of Thomas Swan . Apart from its potential use in electronics other applications may include water treatment and  oil-spill clean up.

The Nobel Prize in physics was awarded to Manchester University's Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov in 2010 for its discovery.

Use The Essential Chemical Industry online to find out more about graphene and other composites.

And for more information on the graphene story look at

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Does removing lead from petrol lead to a decrease in crime?

This is an interesting idea and certainly the countries that have removed lead from petrol have seen a decrease in criminal activity.

There is an interesting BBC news article about this
although it stresses that although the decrease in crime is observable the two facts are not necessarily linked.

If you are discussing this with your students, arm them with information about lead, its production and uses by looking at The Essential Chemical Industry online at

Monday, April 14, 2014

Climate change is a big ask for all of us to understand and act on. How do we explain it to children?

The general consensus at long last seems to be that climate change is happening, it is largely man-made and we need to, at the very least,  mitigate its effects and try to come up with solutions.

This is such a huge subject and the consequences of not acting now are far reaching and not limited to actual climate change.

How can we ensure that the next generation understand all the consequences, both of the science of climate change and its wider influence? Probably the best approach is to give primary children a good grounding in the basic science involved. Armed with the facts the other consequences should become apparent as the children mature and see the wider picture.

Have a look at Climate Choices - Children's Voices, a CIEC site for 7-9 year olds to get them started.

 Climate Choices - Children's Voices is aimed at teachers of children aged 9-11 years ( UK years 5 and 6) who want to help children begin to understand the challenging and complex issue of climate change.
Action to tackle climate change is urgent; the world's poorest people are suffering. This is not inevitable, and through this site children can discover that personal action can make a difference.
In addition to introducing climate change, the site looks at how food choices impact on climate change and how climate change is affecting food supply. A range of resources, including video clips, presentations, games and worksheet-based activities are provided for you to use as appropriate.
The site content links to several curriculum areas and initiatives, including Excellence and Enjoyment, Every Child Matters and Sustainable Schools.