Chemistry makes most people think of violent explosions and vibrantly coloured liquids bubbling over a Bunsen burner.
I love chemistry because there is so much more to it than just explosions! The physiological reactions that keep you alive? All of them can be understood through chemical principles. The process behind our survival, breathing oxygen to convert our food into energy can be summarised using the familiar equation:
C 6 H 12 O 6 + 6O 2 → 6CO 2 + 6H 2 O
The simple sugar molecule glucose (C 6 H 12 O 6 ) is produced when our stomachs break down food. Glucose is then ferried in the blood to our cells, where it reacts with oxygen (O 2 ) to provide energy. Finally, water (H 2 O) and carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) are released and we exhale the carbon dioxide into the air for plants to absorb – and plants then reverse the equation and make glucose!
Although most students would associate this equation with biology, it is chemistry that gives the equation its form. It is the chemists that decoded the hydrogen bonding that hold the DNA of life together, and came up with the process of sequencing DNA. In recognition of these great feats, there are 180 Nobel Laureates in Chemistry and the award has been granted almost every year since 1901. Although best known for her work in physics, Marie Curie was also awarded a Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
Chemistry often seems to students an impenetrable world that they will never be able to break into. However, chemistry is filled with puzzles, and solving any puzzle can be incredibly satisfying, no matter how much hard work it takes.
The best part is that once you understand one section of chemistry, the rest of the puzzles can be solved much more quickly. Many students come to Studiosity requiring help with balancing equations, acid-base reactions and stoichiometry. However, once we Subject Specialists have helped students master balancing equations, the second two often come naturally. There is always more to learn and so even if one section doesn't feel like your cup of tea, others might spark your interest.
Me with some cages of mosquitoes! Chemistry can take you anywhere.
On that note, did you know that the ‘spark’ and chemistry that people feel when they fall in love really is
underlined by chemistry? Chemical reactions take place in your brain making you suddenly want to spend a lot more time with that person. If only the same thing occurred when you were studying chemistry. Those who love chemistry from first sight often find it easier to understand, but it’s definitely possible to understand chemistry even if you don’t feel passionate about it at first. I didn’t always love chemistry, but when I realised that it was going on all around me all the time, I was able to link the concepts in my textbook to the things I saw in everyday life such as driving a car, the electricity powering my home and even the digestion of a cookie.
I teach chemistry because I’m passionate about giving people the skills to approach any problem and chemistry provides a vehicle to teach critical thinking. Critical thinking is one of the key attributes that employers look for, and something that is not always taught particularly well. Students that master chemistry equip themselves with not only valuable hard-skills, but also soft-skills like this.