1 University of Barcelona (SPAIN)
2 Institut Obert de Catalunya (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2016 Proceedings
Publication year: 2016
Pages: 3522-3527
ISBN: 978-84-608-5617-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2016.1832
Conference name: 10th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2016
Location: Valencia, Spain
Students at primary school used to learn about the history of the world, about countries and cities. But how much do they really learn about society nowadays? It is a fact, that history helps us as well as primary school students to understand the world as it is now. So, why don't we give the history of science a chance? After the baccalaureate, when it comes to science, history is greatly underrated. Why? Is it not important to know how science has evolved? Why should the history of science or chemistry be dismissed from the teachings at university?

Teaching the history of chemistry in class has its pros and cons. Nevertheless, most of the students, the scientists of the future, support the idea of getting a glimpse at history can improve their knowledge in chemistry. First of all, we would like to highlight the importance of the fact that the present is based on history. All the mistakes scientists made in the past and all the things they unravelled have created the world as we know it today. Looking back into history is an efficient way to see the world through somebody else’s eyes and to discover the workings of brilliant minds.

Furthermore, we suggest introducing the fundamental concepts and theories of chemistry by making use of the history of chemistry. The introduction to chemistry by telling fascinating stories such as the new chemistry of Lavoisier, Arrhenius and the ionic theory or Watson and Crick’s DNA structure is an attractive way to capture university students’ interest.

To learn to understand scientific processes and chemistry concepts, students in their first year of the Biochemistry degree at University of Barcelona are expected to analyze and critique scientific explanations (including hypotheses and theories), evaluate the impact of research on society and the environment and describe the history of chemistry. Two examples are the historical development of the periodic table (Dimitri Mendeléiev) to understand the concept of periodicity and the historical development of radioactivity (Marie Curie) to understand the structure of atoms.

Several teams of students have also prepared some chemistry explanation/demonstration for example: Chemistry in antiquity; Medieval and Renaissance Alchemy and Chemistry; The Chemical Revolution: from Boyle to Dalton; Inorganic and Organic Chemistry in the 19th Century; Chemistry and Controversies; Historical Experiments in Chemistry; 20th Century and Chemistry; Nobel Prizes in Chemistry and Biochemistry and more.

Finally, students when asked whether the history of chemistry can contribute to improving chemistry teaching, they concluded that it represents a positive input for their chemistry knowledge. Therefore we strongly believe that chemistry teachers from all educational levels should introduce relevant parts of the history of chemistry during their chemistry classes together with the subject at hand.
Primary, secondary, university, students, history of chemistry.