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Thread: How do you explain Chemistry to a child?

  1. #1 How do you explain Chemistry to a child? 
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    OK..that child is me. I am not actually a child but an old man (27 next month).. and in about 6 weeks I am going to university to study Applied Sciences at QUT. The thing is the kids books have been helping me as the "adult" books are hard to understand.

    I haven't studied Chemistry since Year 10 and I got an E for it. ( Thats a fail x 2). The only accomplishment about that was that it was the only E I received in high school, few D's, some B's but mostly C's.

    Anyway I need help because one of the courses coming up is Chemistry ( my major si Geosciences but this is a core course every science student must do). It is a daunting feeling.

    My question remains- If you have asmall child in front of you who asks, What is chemistry and why is it important? What would you say?


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  3. #2  
    Reptile Dysfunction drowsy turtle's Avatar
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    Chemistry is the study of how materials in various states interact with one another and behave both individually and together.

    An example of why chemistry is important might be for understanding how plastics are formed and how they can be chemically engineered to exhibit desired properties, or how "tailor-made" molecules can be used for a variety of reasons, including medicines, catalysts and fuels.

    In short, there is too much in the field of Chemistry to be explained in a single post. An easier way for you to learn would be to ask about some aspect of it you are interested in, and have that explained on its own, and continue to do this and build up a general picture as to how chemistry works.


    "The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair." ~ Douglas Adams
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    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    One of the neat things about chemistry are the equations. They are not the heart of chemistry, but they are certainly part of its language. Many people seem to be put off by them. If you are in this category then fight that at once. A chemical equation speaks to the foundation of the subject. It shows, in Drowsy Turtle's words "how materials in various states interact with one another" in a shorthand form.

    As a geologist a solid grasp of chemistry is essential in understanding petrology, diagenesis, metasomatism, metamorphism, magma generation and differentiation, age dating and host of other topics. Have a look at Bowen's Continuous and Discontinous Reaction Series and see how chemistry can make that come alive.

    Good luck.
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    Hi drosy turtle

    Just recently I developed a interest in chemical engineering even before I knew what it was. Truth be told I still am not sure what it is but from what i understand a chemical engineer may make ,through mixing chemical elements, detergint,soap, plastics, paint.. almost anything and everything. Am I on the right track? I did briefly look to wikepedia to find out.

    I understand the current CEO of BHP was once a chemical engineer.
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    And thanks Ophiolite as well,

    I will be sure to appreciate equations much more from now on.
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    Reptile Dysfunction drowsy turtle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elias Alexander
    Hi drosy turtle

    Just recently I developed a interest in chemical engineering even before I knew what it was. Truth be told I still am not sure what it is but from what i understand a chemical engineer may make ,through mixing chemical elements, detergint,soap, plastics, paint.. almost anything and everything. Am I on the right track? I did briefly look to wikepedia to find out.
    Yep, this is exactly right. In chemistry you study how substances interact; how bonds between atoms and molecules form; and in chemical engineering you apply this to create new, useful materials.
    "The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair." ~ Douglas Adams
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  8. #7  
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    Me again, just posted this in main forum but thought to look to you guys , about learning the periodic table of chemical elements through sentence,riddles,jokes etc

    I got 1-20 downpat.

    Harry he likes beer bottled cold not overly frofy. (H,He, Li, Be, B, C,N, O, F)

    Nelly nanny might although silly person she climbs around kinky caves. (Ne, Na, Mg, Al, Si, P, S, Cl, Ar, K, Ca)

    I got the above from a youtube video and it is helping me. Trouble is I can not find any other sentences for 21-30 and so on. I tried doing my own but it just turns out lame and confusing.

    Do any of you know any sentences that will help me?

    Thanks again and I am linking this forum.
    Elias Alexander
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  9. #8  
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    Chemistry is just science along with Physics, Quantum Physics, Mathematics, Statistics, etc. with a flavoring towards the interactive properties of matter.

    To more rigidly define any of these so called disciplines is neither productive nor intelligent, not that man in his eternal search for ostensible order in the universe, has not attempted to do so.
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