St Andrews academics help put chemistry on the map

Dr Nigel Botting.l
Dr Nigel Botting.l

A UNIQUE map charting Scotland’s history of chemical discovery has been created with the help of academics at the University of St Andrews.

The Chemistry Map of Scotland is an interactive online tool which allows pupils across the country to post accounts of the effect of chemistry in their local area.

Famous chemists, important events and chemical discoveries can be linked to a spot on the map so others can see where they came from or took place.

Pupils will also be able to signpost local industries which use chemical processes.

This will allow classes to bring together different academic subjects from chemistry itself through to geography, history, art and design and modern studies among other subjects.

This is in line with the new school system, Curriculum for Excellence, which aims to make schooling more relevant to pupils and their local area and cross-curricular.

The map has been organised by the Scottish Local Sections of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) as part of the International Year of Chemistry in 2011.

Local members of the Society have also agreed to help schools find suitable subjects.

The map, which covers a range of ages from primary six up to sixth year at secondary, is dedicated to the memory of Dr Nigel Botting, senior lecturer in chemistry at the University of St Andrews until his untimely death from kidney cancer last year at the age of 48.

He was a key figure in the creation of the map and in chemistry education in Scotland and was well-known to many teachers and pupils.

Every year he organised the National Scottish meeting for Teachers of Chemistry and the Scottish Council of Independent Schools Chemistry Masterclass among many other causes which promoted chemistry.

As a long established member of the RSC he was instrumental in bringing exciting chemistry to school pupils across the region.

Dr Richard Baker, senior lecturer in chemistry at St Andrews - who had the original idea for the map - said: “The main purpose of the Chemistry Map of Scotland is to help school children realise themselves that chemistry is everywhere, that it affects their lives in countless ways and is much more than equations on the blackboard, although the equations are important!

“We want to put it in its proper historical, geographical and social context and make it real to children.

“We invite children to send us accounts of the effect of chemistry on their local area.

“A famous chemist may have sat in the same classroom at their school, useful minerals might have been discovered in their area or maybe their parents use chemistry in their work.

“We hope that, by filling in the Chemistry Map of Scotland, we can build a resource that can be consulted and added to into the future.”