Explaining School Chemistry in One Hour

In most of the countries and especially in Bulgaria the chemistry (as well as the other natural sciences) are taught in a very scientific way. With „scientific“ I mean nothing more than the „standard“ science that we do nowadays and that is in no way enough to understand and explain the world. This standard science never asks for the quality, but always only about the quantity of the things. A good example is the study of light as different wave’s lengths, which can’t cover the full meaning and nature of light. And when we only ask about the quantities, than we do nothing else, but mathematising. Which means that we do only some calculations that describe the outer side, the visible and measurable side of the things. Such an approach can never explain the real world and not at all the life, nature and the living creatures.

So, when we do natural sciences in the standard school we mostly do nothing else, but mathematics. Of course, mathematics is very important and in some way we can even say the most important science, but that will be the case if we discover the quality and not only the quantity aspect of this science. If we want to explain chemistry and prepare the students for their exams, enable them to solve all kinds of chemical problems, then we need only to show them how to use the periodic table of Mendeleev and everything else is afterwards only very simple mathematics.

If that very logical and perfectly built table looks at first complicated, then we can use the a more simple one:

And now, with this one we have only to explain the very basic notion of electrons and how the elements always strive to have 8, 16 and so on of them in their outermost electronic layer. So those, that have only 1, 2 or 3 electrons in the last layer will strive to give them up and those who have 5, 6 or 7 will try to obtain respectively 3, 2 or 1 electron more. And those with 8 will be basically „happy“. How do we know how many electrons there are in the last layer? We can read it out from the group – I, II, III and so on.

Just some examples:
– helium He (and the other gases in its group) prefers to stay alone (group VIII). That’s why we call these gases „noble“
– chloride Cl needs one more electron, so it likes to take it from natrium Na, which is a very good deal also for the other side, which wants to give up one electron. And that’s how we obtain something very special, that we need everyday – salt, NaCl
– in the same way we can find out which other elements need each other

It seems that chemistry or at least the nature of the elements can be very materialistic – everything is about obtaining and giving. At least there is a good balance – those who want to give are as much as those who want to take. Hopefully this people will learn from the elements, so there will be more people in the future who will like to give and not only to take.

One more thing to know – if we want to learn how to write correctly chemical equations, we need first to know how to write correctly mathematical equations. Equation means that on both sides, left and right, we have the same. A simple example for water: O2 + 4*H –> 2*H2O. Oxygen never likes to be alone, so normally there are two of them: O2. If we want to obtain water we need some hydrogen. So, it should be something like O2 + H –> H2O, but we see that we have thus two quantities of O on the left and only one on the right. So we have to obtain two times water: O2 + H –> 2*H2O. But now we still have a problem, because we have two times two quantities of hydrogen, which means four quantities of hydrogen on the right and only one on the left. The solution is, consequently to put four on the left: O2 + 4*H –> 2*H2O. We can also write this in a more simple (but even less realistic way): O + 2*H –> H2O. Simple equation for something so special as water! But that is only if we look at the very simple quantity-side of water. The quality side is far more interesting and extremely complicated. It does not comply with the „standard scientific“ expectations in more than 53 cases. Well, those are the already known anomalies of water – we do not know yet how many more will be discovered. Let’s stay curious, but be conscious that we need some more quality-approach.

As simple as it is – that is more or less the whole school chemistry. Of course, the mathematics can become more complicated at some point.

Please now try to compare with the more quality-approach to the periodic table – the picture is from a high student of the Haleakala waldorf school.