17/06/2016

5 Reasons Chemistry is a Tough Subject

It’s not a secret that Chemistry is widely considered to be one of the trickiest subjects in school. We all know it’s tough, but what is it about this so-called central science that makes it such a challenge for many of us?

Over 100 elements to learn, lots of new prefixes and suffixes that mean very specific things, and a new system of noting chemical equations. Chemistry is abstract concepts, combined with math, and has it’s own language - that’s 3 in 1! Let us count the ways….

 

1. Terms & Conditions

If you’re like us, you skip past the terms & conditions for most things. Problem being in Chemistry, the condition of you actually understanding anything hinges on the terms. Confused? Join the club. But before we get to the part where we tell you there’s hope, here’s what we mean: Chemistry has a lot of technical terms and the terms’ unfamiliarity is only to be outdone by their importance. 

Yep, Sodium is Na (from Natrium), Potassium is K (from Kalium), and moles aren’t furry little creatures that burrow underground.

No, not them.

There are lots of rules, laws, definitions, equations, constants, and the such to confuse and torment you. So it takes some time to learn to speak Chemistrian, just like you would when learning a new language.

CrashCourse has a pretty good video here outlining a lot of the language rules of Chemistry in their video series Crash Course Chemistry. Just so if you need some help with your Chemistry course!

 

2. Math is an integral.

Get it?

Like in Physics, math is a vital element of Chemistry studies. You need a decent level of mastery from algebra to exponents to navigate Chemistry problems. And calculus comes in handy if you wish to take Chemistry to an advanced level.

Some students actually find Chemistry tough not because they can’t wrap their heads around the abstract concepts, but their weak foundation in math gets them the wrong answers, even if they got the Chemistry part right. Frustrating isn’t it?

So, what can be done you say? One of our school practices is to get students to practice and revise basics at KhanAcademy to help boost their foundation in various subjects, and especially math. Many of our students express interest in subjects which they have weak basics in, and why shouldn’t they have the chance to explore that interest?

 

3. The scale is… scaley.

It’s a wide, wide world of hard to dissect, interconnected concepts that each need proper understanding to move on. If you couldn’t keep up in high school with the various little bites of information scattered all over (and who could blame you?), you probably graduated still lost as to how the Periodic Table works!

We’ve been told that it’s a lot of memorization, yet it’s more than just memorization. It’s also seeing the link between each topic, and understanding how each topic is related. And with the topics being taught in isolation, it’s difficult for many a student to grasp the connections.

 

4. When it comes to matter, mind over matter!

Oftentimes, we get in our own way in spite of all the clever things we can do. One reason Chemistry is tough is because we’ve been told it’s hard - and that’s where we set ourselves up to prove ourselves right.

Is it really a difficult subject?

Quite so! But who cares! Believe you can learn it anyway! Break down your study sessions into bite-sized chunks (your bite, not someone else’s!), create mind maps to help you visualize your learning, and whatever else helps you absorb and process information. Give yourself the time and space to improve, small steps is all it takes.

 

5. Students can’t see Chemistry in real life!

It’s true! Anyone would be frustrated over not being able to see molecules interact, being unable to relate to what is being taught. What more a high school kid learning about strange particles she can’t perceive forming everything around her? It could be white and blue fluffy unicorns dancing around each other in water molecules for all she knows!

In everyday life, math is used for money matters; and biology is every living thing around us, and who we are - but Chemistry isn’t used every day which makes it difficult to relate to - or so we think.

How fluoride in toothpaste helps with tooth decay, why some fires burn clear while others are sooty, all the different ways food can be cooked...  Chemistry is all around us, and all it takes is the right tools to help us see it; a look into the atomic world, a safe simulation to experiment with chemicals in, wouldn’t that be more engaging for everyone? ChemCaper creates that type of space to learn Chemistry.

Chemistry can be challenging, but it’s a fascinating world to explore. So why should it remain inaccessible just because of the way it’s taught?

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A world where complex science and math can finally be thought of as easy subjects that even young kids understand because they’ve played games which taught them those intricate matters. That’s exactly what we are working towards with ChemCaper.

Thank you all for reading. If you’d like be part of our journey in Reinventing Education for both kids and adults alike, download ChemCaper right here. And if you’d like to keep up to date with us, check out our Facebook page,website, and blog.

(Reac) Ta for now!