So this week was the ASE conference and I popped up after work on Friday to crash on the Saturday with my sights set on 3 main things. First and foremost I was there to harass and cajole people into getting involved with Decipher My Data: Flu – we’re only accepting registrations for another week or so as it’s very likely that this season’s peak flu is going to hit soon. As you well know, the more data you have the better – we’re looking pretty threadbare in the north of England at the moment so pull yourselves together up there! I had some very shiny postcards to give out (left).

Secondly I was taking part in the Teacher Fellow Tag Team event showing some demonstration ideas from RSC resources (and specifically in my case highlighting a couple of the Exhibition Chemistry demos). Some photos follow beneath with explanations of what’s going on and where you can find further information.

Thirdly I was there for the #asechat / #sciteachjc tweetup – the best part of ASEconf is the ability to meet so many other inspiring and wonderful science teachers. It’s both humbling and empowering at the same time. Alom Shaha’s little speech to the collected tweachers made me rather emotional. There’s a great feeling that the internet is really empowering teachers to take control of their own professional development and to get their voice heard by those who would like to sideline us. It was fantastic meeting you all. I just hope some of you will write up the other events as I had no time to actually attend any of the sessions myself.




There is information about the numbered images at the bottom of the page

  1. Left to right – Anne Willis, Declan Fleming (me!), Catherine Smith and Peter Hoare. If you want chemistry outreach in the North East / Scotland then Anne and Peter are well worth getting in contact with as they’re both based in Newcastle. Catherine is this year’s School Teacher Fellow in Leicester – get in touch with her if you’re in the Midlands
  2. Starting simple with the old favourite Methane Bubbles demo.
  3. The hydrogen / oxygen bubble mix was being a bit limp in the run through beforehand but was certainly impressive enough when the time came – the shock momentarily froze my camera and I had to turn it off and on again to get it to take the next photo! SciChem will supply small transportable cylinders for this kind of thing.
  4. Issue 2 of this year’s Exhibition Chemistry will be on acetylene – you’ll have to wait ’til March for this one if you weren’t in the audience!
  5. Putting dry ice into some warm soapy water collects bubbles that release little clouds when they pop. A crowd pleaser when talking about changes of state. Your friendly local Teacher Fellow or RSC regional coordinator will be more than happy to help you out with some dry ice – also local florists and hospitals often have dry ice they don’t need if you make contacts there.
  6. Another classic – adding dry ice to some water with universal indicator in it. You can pimp this up by adding a weak base or a small amount of dilute strong base. When I do this, I use dil. NaOH (if only because I use it for another demo in the same lecture). If you add enough base to the acidified solution at the end of the demo to make it go green again you might be pleasantly surprised by what happens next (if you haven’t seen it before)
  7. There are many variations of this demonstration where you add the liquid from a beaker into a series of consecutive beakers producing a colour change in each. Catherine’s one was particularly nice and could be really thought provoking for an A-level class doing aqueous and transition metal chemistry. I’ll be using it as a revision exercise in the next few weeks for sure! Here are the notes for this one.
  8. Most of you will have seen the “Blue bottle” demo – many will not have seen the indigo carmine and resazurin variants which are seriously cool (the former having 3 redox states corresponding to yellow, red, and green colours). Check out the additional examples at the bottom of this page.
  9. This was the November Exhibition Chemistry – the reaction of copper with nitric acid.
  10. Another from Classic Chemistry Demonstrations – this time some Nickel complexes with different amounts of en
  11. To finish off with, Anne had a brilliant version of elephant’s toothpaste where she’d put stripes of food colouring down the inside wall of the measuring cylinder to get proper striped toothpaste! Great idea!