The UCD ChemClub performs demonstrations to foster public awareness about chemistry and natural sciences. These demonstrations, often presented as “magic shows,” exhibit many aspects of chemistry. We have recently developed a section of the ChemWiki to educate the public via access to the underlying chemistry principles at work in these demonstrations. Once completed, pamplets either printed with the applicable ChemWiki Modules of the show or outlined with internet links will be given to audience members, especially enthusiastic children stimulated by the “magic show”, to describe the underlying science behind the observed demonstrations.
The ChemWiki is rapidly expanding its implementation into Universities, four-year colleges and community college across America. Recent module contributions to the Chemwiki has originated from all 50 states and page views indicating contructive use of the ChemWiki (over 10 minutes per visit) have also been observed in all 50 states. Over the past 9 months, we have had 135,000 visits, totaling ~3,000 hours of viewing/editing of content, largely by students. This is an average of approximately seven hours of chemistry reading and writing per participating student.
Effective post-secondary education in developing countries is often hindered poor access to a consistently available source of textbook materials, in adequate quantities and with sufficiently reduced costs, for the students to use productively. This results in an inconsistent teaching structure resulting from poor standardization in course material across classes, universities and countries. The freely available ChemWiki textbook directly addresses the costs, distribution and effectiveness of improving education effort in developing nations. Although great strides are underway to improve the utility of open access materials to advance education in these countries, limited access to the Internet hinders the effectiveness of such approaches. The proposed online chemistry textbook is being designed to allow for the printing of hardcopies versions that can be distributed freely to students lacking Internet access. Preliminary discussions with African contacts regarding this aspect are currently underway.