INCREASE STUDENTS’ INTEREST IN CHEMISTRY
Some freshmen in college science careers and nonactual education are not motivated to study chemistry. This science studies the matter transformations and it is very important in their intellectual development.
Our work was on those science Catalan students around the age of 18 years old with no motivation for Chemistry. We designed extracurricular activities based on the History of the Chemistry to reinforcing this scientific discipline. Students in their first year of several science degrees from the University of Barcelona and students from nonactual education have realized these activities. Our goals as chemistry teachers are preparing the future career of the students, encouraging them to work individually and in groups, and finally, to increase their knowledge of chemistry.
Each group of students had to research two chemists, important chemists. Students worked as journalists, their work consisted of two fictional interviews, for example, to Marie Curie and Dimitri Mendeleiev (group A) or Melvin Calvin and Antoine Lavoisier (group B), etc....
Students acted as reporters and journalists asking the questions to both scientists and at the same time, acting as chemists who answered the questions. They showed the way that Curie and Mendeleiev or Calvin and Lavoisier made in the field of chemistry, how they thought about their discoveries, and the scientific process that they followed. Some questions were also presented on their personal relationship with society and about the most important historical events and social issues, throughout his life, that happened in the World.
The interview with Marie Curie was performed in 1903, the year in which she received the Nobel Prize of Physics. The interview with Dimitri Mendeleiev was performed in 1875, the year in which gallium was discovered (Mendeleiev had predicted the existence of this element some years before). The interview with Melvin Calvin was performed in 1970, nine years after receiving the Nobel Prize and one after writing the book “Chemical Evolution”. The interview with Antoine Lavoisier was performed in 1794, the year he died on the guillotine.
Students have written and presented their work in a realistic way, making particular emphasis in chemistry discoveries and some concepts taught by the chemists. Two students’ suggestions of how to manage their work are presented: “I’ll ask the questions thinking as if I was her. To get this objective I’ve looked at her autobiography and some of her books to learn about her mode to think and write. By this way I want to get a realistic interview about chemistry with Marie Curie” and “I will make the questions, and answer, in terms of what Lavoisier said during his life. He is the father of the modern chemistry because his method and investigations made an inflexion point in the history of the chemistry”.
This educational approach has contributed to reinforcing the interest and the study of chemistry. The next step will be the production of pedagogical materials using all these interviews in order to increase students’ motivation and interest in chemistry.