Teaching justice and cooperation through chemistry | Ideas

At first glance, the connections between Goals 16 and 17 and teaching chemistry may not be obvious, but when you start digging deeper there are opportunities to overcome some of the challenges they present. For example, chemists have a role to play in achieving justice for all (Goal 16) through forensic science. Often, forensic evidence is the determining factor in successful criminal prosecution. Equally important to sustainable development is the work of analytical, atmospheric and environmental chemists, who regularly use analytical techniques to assess the life risks of certain chemicals in soil, air or water before they are released. others are not looking for solutions.

The logo of the Sustainable Development Goals

This article is part of the Sustainability in Chemistry series, developed to help you integrate the UN Sustainable Development Goals in your chemistry education. It supports Goal 16: promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels; and Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

Due to Covid-19, the global economy is contracting and many healthcare systems around the world are under intense pressure. We need strong international cooperation to ensure that countries have the means to recover from the pandemic. Chemists and scientists around the world have a role to play in the development and distribution of Covid test kits and vaccines (Goal 17). This provides real context when teaching about health and disease or the data interpretation aspects of scientific work.

Goal 16: sustainable development and justice for all

Chemistry – Fixing the Future is a short video clip that matches Goal 16, showing chemistry’s role in solving global problems such as climate change, pollution, the energy crisis and feeding the world. It can be used as a quick start to promote discussion among your students about how chemistry contributes to a more sustainable world. You can integrate the accompanying job profiles into your learning programs to support the STEM career offer.

Chemistry – preparing for the future (rsc.li/3oITsZC) is a short video clip that matches Goal 16, showing the role of chemistry in solving global problems such as climate change, pollution, the energy crisis, and feeding the world. It can be used as a quick start to promote discussion among your students about how chemistry contributes to a more sustainable world. You can integrate the accompanying job profiles into your learning programs to support the STEM career offer.

When faced with a forensic problem, students are usually fully engaged. TV shows such as CSI have done a lot to capture interest. Instrumental analysis, including IR spectroscopy, NMR spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, gas chromatography, and GC-MS, is covered in many post-16 chemistry courses. At 14-16 years old, students learn separation techniques such as chromatography, distillation and filtration, as well as how to test for the presence of positive and negative ions. Students enjoy the challenge of trying to identify unknown substances by performing a series of tests and analyzing spectra.

Chemistry is a practical subject and there is a richness of research show how students learn through targeted and well-planned hands-on activities. The setting up of a forensic science scenario for the students represents an excellent opportunity for practical work. Brochure Forensic chemistry, which is part of the “Innovations in Practical Work” series published by the Gatsby Science Enhancement Program, provides some great ideas and suggestions for performing forensic chemistry in the 14-16 classroom. The package contains a wealth of general information and comes with downloadable presentations and worksheets.

The Analysis Collection is a series of resources for teaching the principles and practice of spectroscopy and other analytical methods. Again, the resources provide good basic materials, hands-on activities, student worksheet videos, and animations.

Chemistry is a hands-on subject, and there is a wealth of research showing how students learn through focused and well-planned hands-on activities. The setting up of a forensic science scenario for the students represents an excellent opportunity for practical work. The Forensic Chemistry booklet, which is part of the “Innovations in Practical Work” series published by the Gatsby Science Enhancement Program (bit.ly/2Yw6VJM), provides some great ideas and suggestions for performing forensic chemistry in grade 14-16. The package contains a wealth of general information and comes with downloadable presentations and worksheets.

The analysis collection (rsc.li/3oJL63T) is a series of resources for teaching the principles and practice of spectroscopy and other analytical methods. Again, the resources provide good basic materials, hands-on activities, student worksheet videos, and animations.

Having a class debate is a good way for students to learn. Especially if they have to put forward the “other side of the argument” from their own personal beliefs. The vaccine debate kit provides a structured debate on the best policy to protect the public, balancing individual freedoms with public health and offers the possibility of cross-cutting links with citizenship, history and biology. The question being debated is, “Should children be required to have all of their vaccines before they can go to school?” Eight character cards (four on each side of the argument) are provided. You can use this resource with 14-16 and 16-18 students. To increase demand, before the debate, have your students research and develop their own arguments.

Goal 17: global partnership

The article How Chemists Create Vaccines highlights the role chemists play in vaccine production and discusses the issues of developing a vaccine that can be used in hot regions where refrigeration may be an issue, covering the Ideas for Goal 17. Chemistry is central to designing and improving vaccines and preventing them from breaking down before they are used. This article can be used to provide context when teaching particle and salt model and making cross-connections with biology.

When living in a pandemic, it is important for young people to understand why vaccines only protect people if most people are vaccinated. Astra Zeneca has produced a set of videos showing how the Covid-19 vaccine works. The New vaccines workshop created by the UK Clinical Research Collaboration offers activities that introduce students to the concepts of herd immunity, the importance of informed consent in clinical research and the development of a new vaccine. You can use these resources, along with current Covid-19 news headlines and articles, to bring key messages home.

The article ‘How Chemists Create Vaccines’ (rsc.li/3lohNC4) highlights the role of chemists in vaccine production and discusses the problems of developing a vaccine that can be used in hot regions where refrigeration may be a problem, covering the ideas of Goal 17. Chemistry is at the heart to design and improve vaccines and to stop them from failing before use. This article can be used to provide context when teaching particle and salt model and making cross-connections with biology.

When living in a pandemic, it is important for young people to understand why vaccines only protect people if most people are vaccinated. Astra Zeneca has produced a series of videos (bit.ly/3mzCBWs) showing how the Covid-19 vaccine works. The workshop on new vaccines created by the UK Clinical Research Collaboration (bit.ly/3mzuR6W) offers activities that introduce students to the concepts of collective immunity, the importance of informed consent in clinical research and the development of a new vaccine. You can use these resources, along with current Covid-19 news headlines and articles, to bring key messages home.

Get more resources

  • Take a global citizenship approach and explore the concept of Climate justice using case studies from Scotland and Somaliland.
  • Link to careers using this video from a Forensic Pathologist and show your students how they can gain work experience alongside their education with this Apprentice Forensic Pathologist job profile.
  • Investigate if the secretary is to blame with your 11-14 and 14-16 learners and join in with your teaching of dissolution, filtration, evaporation, chemical changes and crystallization.
  • Precious Water provides context and shows the importance of a global partnership in overcoming issues such as water scarcity and includes experiments and math in science teachers’ downloads.


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Estelle D. Eden

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