Behind the scenes of Education in Chemistry 50 years ago – it transpires that 1963 was a landmark year for science education ...

Since our last issue, I have found out that 1963 was quite a momentous year for science education across the UK. Not only was Education in Chemistry established and the Association of Science Education founded, Peter Borrows, a former editorial board member, wrote to inform me of other important developments which took place that year. These included the first meeting of CLEAPSS and trials were also drawn up for the Nuffield Chemistry Teaching Project.

In 1963, Peter himself was an inspired young chemistry PGCE student and later these events had a profound effect on his career, to the extent that he became deeply involved with all of them and I assume had a great influence on their direction over the years. I've added his letter to our 50th anniversary web pages – it makes very interesting reading.

Solubility explained

I have selected an article from volume 1, issue 2 to share with you this time – Solubility explained by AG Sharpe. I chose this as it considers some issues that still seem to cause problems in chemistry teaching and learning today, namely understanding solubility and the terminology surrounding quantity. Both of these topics are at the root of many conceptual misunderstandings.

I found this article interesting in that Dr Sharpe gives a definition of molarity when the definition of the mole was not established by IUPAC until 1971 (see Demystifying the mole, p8). Terminology and units seem to have changed with time and have been standardised – 'gram- molecule' is not a term many of us would be familiar with today. The article looks in detail at the thermodynamics of solutions across a range of phases.

As a bonus at the end of the article, we have an insight into a 'modern' technique for cleaning laboratory glassware by RED Clarke. I hope they wore safety specs!