Statement from SACI Council on tertiary training in chemistry as a result of disruptions to the 2020 academic year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the professional body representing the interests of all chemists in South Africa, we recognise the challenges that the current COVID-19 crisis presents to all our members in academia, research and industry. We also acknowledge the challenges the current situation presents to our tertiary institutions and specifically the challenges presented by moving to online teaching. We applaud the efforts of all our members who work at tertiary institutions who have adapted and innovated to ensure that we can continue as far as possible with our teaching and learning of chemistry even when on campus face-to-face contact is not possible. Our tertiary institutions play a critical role in not only training the next generation of chemists, but they are also tasked with the important responsibility of ensuring that many people from other professions and disciplines are trained in the fundamental principles of chemistry.
We reaffirm our belief that this training is essential, as chemistry is one of the central sciences. Key to this training is the practical component and laboratory based skills development. While we accept that this critical component of our training is not possible under the current situation, we strongly urge that plans be put in place to preserve this component of training as part of the curriculum as far as possible. In some cases, virtual laboratory tools can facilitate learning, but we believe that “in laboratory practical training” particularly for senior level courses should be preserved. SACI strongly recommends that at least a critical minimum practical experience should form part of the plans to complete the 2020 academic year at our tertiary institutions. We believe that this is essential to preserve the validity and integrity of the academic training programmes in chemistry.
Professor Peter Mallon
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New Interactive Electronic Version of the IUPAC Periodic Table of the Elements & Isotopes
How do we know what the temperature of our planet was a million years ago, to better understand climate change? Where did Őtzi the Iceman live as a child and an adult? What evidence gives doping agencies the gold standard to determine whether testosterone in an athlete’s sample comes from doping? How do we obtain 3D images of tumors in soft tissues?
The answers to all of these questions and many more can be revealed through a deeper understanding of isotopes of the elements. Isotopes matter!
These new resources are created for educators and students at secondary and post-secondary levels, and to inform the public about the many uses of isotopes in our lives. They are based on educational practices that encourage engaged and active learning by students.
The new IUPAC interactive electronic periodic table and accompanying educational materials were created by a partnership between an IUPAC Project team of scientists and educators, and researchers at the King’s Centre for Visualization in Science, and build on the work of a previous IUPAC project team to create a print version of the Periodic Table of the Isotopes.
“This project responds to requests by educators and students for resources highlighting the importance of isotopes in our lives, and that give students help in using interval atomic weights for elements. www.ISOTOPESMATTER.com brings free engaging and interactive learning resources to the fingertips of students and educators around the world,” says Task Group Co-Chair Peter Mahaffy, Professor of Chemistry at the King’s University in Canada, and co-director of the King’s Centre for Visualization in Science.
And Norman Holden, retired Research Coordinator of the High Flux Beam Reactor (HFBR) and the Brookhaven Medical Research Reactor (BMMR) and a Guest Scientist at the National Nuclear Data Center (NNDC) of Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, adds: “It’s great when scientists and educators work together to create a vehicle to provide students with an understanding of fundamental scientific facts and accomplish this internationally.“
Following the global launch on August 17, 2016, the new IUPAC interactive electronic periodic table and accompanying resources can be accessed at www.isotopesmatter.com. A print version of the periodic table of the isotopes and elements is available at http://ciaaw.org/periodic-table-isotopes.htm. Further details will be published in the peer-reviewed IUPAC Journal, Pure and Applied Chemistry.
Dr. Norman Holden, IUPAC Project Task Force Co-Chair
Dr. Fabienne Meyers
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