Superacids

The concept of superacids was a new on to me until the other day when I read about a chemistry competition that had been held in Moscow earlier this summer. You may have been in this very competition so, if you had, and I get something wrong, please do put me right! The competition asked students to 'design' (on paper) an alien blood that resembled the blood in the 'Alien' movies. If you recall, this blood needed to be capable of ...

VX – What is it?

Over this last month or so, the nerve agent VX has hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons but I did think it was worth looking at the chemistry of this molecule in this moths blog post. The obvious question is what is it? VX, or, to use the full IUPAC name is actually Ethyl ({2-ethyl}sulfanyl)(methyl)phosphinate. It is referred to as VX as it is a ‘V’ series of nerve agents (‘V’ stands for venom) and was first syntheiszed in the ...

Man Made Minerals

This blog post was inspired by a recent BBC article I read on minerals. The full article can be found here if you would like to read more (after you have read this blog post, of course!): http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-39133897 It has recently been announced that over 200 ‘new’ minerals (4% of the total known minerals) have been discovered – these minerals own their existence to us. As strange as it sounds, human behaviour has led to the formation of these substances. To me, ...

Formal charge

Formal charge is not currently taught in the current course but will be taught from this August as part of the new syllabus (that you may have heard your teacher moaning about!) It is a really good idea / concept that is similar to that of oxidation numbers but which applies to covalent compounds. But what is it?   Well, it is certainly not the type of charge intimated in the above image! It is actually given as: FC = V – (N + B/2) You did ...

The new course – what’s in and what’s out?

Hopefully by now you will have found and downloaded a copy of the new subject guide (for exams 2016) from the OCC. Have you read it? Looked over it? Glanced at it? Or are you letting it gather dust, afraid to peek inside at its contents? After all, chemistry is chemistry ….. isn’t it? There can’t be that many changes – can there? The good news is that there is still lots of chemistry packed into the new guide. The other news ...

Starting to revise

If you are in the second year of your IB studies and in a May session school, now is the time you need to start thinking about your May exams. The exams probably seem a long way off still but believe me, now is the time to start to prepare for them! In most cases, these exams see the culmination of thirteen (yes, thirteen!) years of education. You may have applied for university and had an offer made according to ...

Getting your IA (Internal Assessment) ready

If you are a May session school, it’s that time of year again. You have been teaching your current IB 2 class for 18 months or so and have had lots of ups and downs (more up than down I hope!) Syllabus material has been covered and in this respect you are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. You have also been carrying lots of fun lab work and this process is also drawing to ...

The IB Learner Profile

The IB Learner Profile characterises how YOU should aim to be with regards to education and learning. It strives to teach people how to be 'life long learners' - education does not finish once your diploma has finished and it give you skills that should last you a life time. It is also aimed at YOU (or everyone) - whether you are in grade 1, grade 5, grade 12, a teacher, a parent or an administrator or school governor. But what ...

‘R’ day

So, the results were published last Friday. Now that the dust is beginning to settle, how did you do? If you are not happy with the results there are a few options available to you if you are a teacher or a student: Via your diploma coordinator: 1, Ask for a recount (this may not be available if papers were marked online). 2, Ask for a remark. 3, If IA is your concern, request a remark (EUR cat 3). Naturally there is a charge for ...

The Mpemba Effect (2)

So, you have been mulling over the answer to this one all weekend. What is the Mpemba effect and how will it make me richer? First, the effect: Named after Erasto Mpemba, a Tanzanian student who posted the question in 1968 to a visiting professor to his school (Professor Denis Osborne). 'Why Sir, does hot water freeze faster than cold water? If you take two similar containers with equal volumes of water, heat one so that it is boiling and leave the other ...