Entertaining Chemistry (with explosions)

During the recent school holidays, I took each of my four youngest daughters for a one-on-one outing.  When it was Charlotte’s turn, we went shopping and ended our morning with a trip to a café, for hot chocolates and cake. As we sat sipping, we chatted.

“I know you’ve got a long time still to think about it,” I said,  “but have you any idea what you’d like to do when you finish homeschooling?”

Charlotte responded instantly: “I might like to study chemistry… or writing.”

“You could do both,” I suggested. “You could be a scientific writer.”

Charlotte thought for a moment and then said, “I wouldn’t be able to do all the explosive stuff if I was just writing about chemistry. I love explosions!”

Charlotte (14) is my first child to show a real interest in chemistry. I tried to interest her four older siblings. Despite having studied biochemistry for two years as part of my Bachelor of Science, I failed to ignite any passion for chemistry in my children. Then…

We discovered an amazing website packed with chemistry videos that captured Charlotte’s imagination. The Periodic Table of Videos site has a video for every element in the periodic table.

Here’s the Welcome information from this website:

Tables charting the chemical elements have been around since the 19th century – but this modern version has a short video about each one.
We’ve done all 118 – but our job’s not finished. Now we’re updating all the videos with new stories, better samples and bigger experiments.
Plus we’re making films about other areas of chemistry, latest news and occasional adventures away from the lab.
We’ve also started a new series – The Molecular Videos – featuring our favourite molecules and compounds.
All these videos are created by video journalist Brady Haran, featuring real working chemists from the University of Nottingham.
Brady Haran is the video journalist who filmed the Numbers and Stuff videos I was telling you about the other day.

The chemistry videos are informative, interesting and most importantly, entertaining. And they contain many explosions, much to Charlotte’s delight.

One day I noticed Charlotte had started a chemistry notebook: “There’s so many interesting facts in the videos and I want to remember as much as possible.”

Later, she came to me with a huge smile on her face: “Imogen just gave me her old chemistry text book. I can’t wait to read it!”

Even later, Charlotte announced, “I had a bit of trouble understanding some of the things in the text book so I went looking for more information. I found some really good chemistry videos on the Kahn Academy site.”

So Charlotte loves chemistry and it all started with a periodic table video.

Visit the Periodic Table of Videos site, choose an element, and watch a video. I’m sure you will be impressed.

I’ve just remembered something else. Charlotte told me the University of Nottingham chemistry team have made a series of Roadtrip videos:

We often leave the lab to tell the stories of chemistry around the word.
We’ve filmed in countries including Ethiopia, Australia, Sweden, Brazil, Italy, India and Germany.
There is a great photo of some of the team in front of the Sydney Opera House.

Perhaps you’d also like to share Charlotte’s chemistry blog posts:

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  1. Reply

    I remember you telling me about some of these sites, Sue. I think Adam might be interested in this so I'll pass on the link. Thank you for all this great information.

    God bless:-)

    1. Reply


      If Adam enjoys the videos, let me know! I want to watch the roadtrip ones. Charlotte says they are interesting.

      Thank you for commenting so faithfully!

      God bless.

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