Some of you may be surprised to learn that in a recent survey, 85% of college students said chemistry is difficult or boring. You might be curious to hear that a common response to chemistry majors revealing their specialty was “Oh, I hated chemistry.” This is why we really need to talk about chemistry. And why I configured ChemTalk.
I started ChemTalk with several students. ChemTalk is a US-based non-profit organization that focuses on these issues and aims to make chemistry fun and easy to learn. Everyone involved has a deep passion for showing the world how amazing chemistry can be and a shared feeling that the perception of chemistry needs to be improved. We have a passion for this mission, a plan and the skills to make it happen.
Inspirational chemistry (students)
My initial belief was that chemistry was the loser in the face of digital distractions and the fear of “toxic chemicals”. Our poll told us that there was an even bigger component: a lack of inspiration. This made our mission – to change and improve the perception of chemistry – even more important.
Based on the survey results and feedback from our 16-21 year old interns, we decided that the most scalable and effective plan was to reach students where they wanted them to be: online, via a website and social media. Looking at the existing resources, we realized that they were scattered across many channels and websites.
This makes the chemistry relevant and makes this fascinating, but sometimes difficult, subject come to life for them!
We’ve created a Chemistry Superportal – a place where students can learn about chemistry topics, the elements and the periodic table, experiments, models, lab equipment and techniques. We’ve created a place where chemistry is fun, easy to learn, and makes students want to take it a step further, a place where learners can watch videos, see demos, and experience the love of chemistry we all feel.
The ChemTalk survey also found that students are more excited about chemistry when they see exciting experiments and demonstrations. So we’re showing how amazing chemistry is and how it relates to our everyday world on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. We have also created the ChemTalk LiveLab.
The LiveLab is an interactive lab space where we will broadcast exciting experiments and demonstrations live to a wide audience, from young children to skilled scientists, across the world via YouTube, Facebook Live and Twitch. Students can chat and ask questions in real time, creating an exciting energy similar to that experienced by players live with audience participation.
ChemTalk has many exciting projects – and we hope some of you will be a part of this growth.
Teachers have already started using our resources to augment and supplement their curricula. A chemistry teacher in Virginia recently told us that his students loved videos, podcasts and articles: “It makes chemistry accessible and brings this fascinating, but sometimes difficult subject to life! “
We hope that our website and social media channels will be a perfect complement to existing science and chemistry books.
Over 140,000 people per month already use ChemTalk. By the end of 2022, we’ll have free, easy-to-read resources on virtually every topic for middle and college levels, along with articles on each item and dozens of experiments and demos. We hope that our website and social media will complement existing scientific and chemical books perfectly.
We actively solicit ideas from science teachers on how we can best help. We also fundraise in order to have the necessary resources to achieve our goals. We can’t wait to make this trip together.
If more students love chemistry, if more students want to pursue STEM careers, if fewer graduates say “I hated chemistry,” then ChemTalk will be a success.