Chemistry experiments – a European approach
In order to promote the role of experiments and experimental works in Natural Science classes, and to increase the amount of activities in the teaching process, 6 upper secondary schools joined forces together in an Erasmus+ strategic partnership to create 3 pedagogical tools.
The role of chemistry experiments in Chemistry class is of paramount importance. Since national examinations do not access or assess practical skills related to work in a laboratory, the role of chemistry experiments is decreasing in favour of students' problem solving or alternative theoretical skills.
Taking into account that many chemistry experiments are presented by online resources (e.g. recorded videos) they do not always comply with the pedagogical rules. There is a pedagogical approach on how to record a chemistry video and what information to include. These highlight the minimum requirements that make a recorded chemistry experiment a pedagogical tool, including:
- presenting the name of the experiment or of the depicted process;
- presenting the hazards related to the manipulation of chemicals while using GHS symbols;
- writing down the balanced chemical equation, explaining the experimental steps and the chemical process;
- describing the waste management.
One objective of the project was for the schools involved to create a collection of chemistry videos. They are to be recorded with all the necessary information (presented above) which allows the recording to be a pedagogical tool, suitable to be used in the classroom. This collection contains 190 chemistry experiments and is available on a dedicated YouTube channel created within the partnership.
A second aim of the project was to create a handbook of chemistry experiments that cover the theoretical aspects related to the recorded experiments. The book was written in English and translated in three other languages: Romanian, Greek and Turkish.
The content of the book goes beyond the chemical process itself. It presents aspects related to the preparation of an experiment, the materials and equipment to do it, the hazards related to the use of different chemicals along with waste management of the products and the appropriate reference citation. The book acts as a tool aimed at chemistry teachers and students performing certain experimental procedures in the laboratory.
English and Romanian versions of the book were printed and distributed among chemistry teachers. It was sent to both those attending the International Dissemination Conference held in Zalau on 7 April 2017 and those who live further received the book by post.
In situations where online tools are not available, a third-end product is envisioned for the project. This consists of an offline software that manages the video database. The software runs on Windows OS and it was created with a lot more functionalities than initially estimated. Instead of having an application that manages 190 chemistry experiment videos (.mp4 files) and 190 chemistry experimental pages (.pdf files), the partnership made a 'living application' which can be further developed by the end user. According to the user needs, the video and experimental database can be further expanded either with the user's own video recordings or with videos found on the internet. The software has a powerful filtering capability, allowing users to search the database using 6 parameters. This makes it easy to navigate among the hundreds of chemical demonstrations.
The six partners involved were from five countries across Europe: Colegiul National "Simion Barnutiu", Simleu Silvaniei, Romania (coordinating school); HTL Dornbirn, Dornbirn, AT; Vassiliadis School, Thessaloniki, Greece; SG Helinium, Hellevoetsluis and Cappelle aan den IJssel, Rotterdam, the Netherlands (2 different schools), Sesokulari, Samsun, Turkey, ensuring diversity.
The last project meeting was organised at the coordinating school Colegiul National 'Simion Barnutiu', Simleu Silvaniei, Romania, where an international conference was held (7/4/2017). It was a dissemination event which allowed the joint team to start spreading the end products among the target groups: teachers of chemistry in secondary schools and, as indirect beneficiaries, the students doing their secondary studies. Coverage of situations was ensured offline and online making the results of the partnership available in many different ways.