Tag Archives: organic chemistry

“Ingredients” Lesson Plan

People have been asking me for the lesson plan that gave rise to the Banana Posters.

Here it is. Click the image to download it as a PDF. 🙂

It’s a great introduction to Organic Chemistry in the last year of high school or in the first year of university.

Ingredients Lesson Plan jameskennedymonash

If Beetroots had Ingredients Labels…

It’s Australia Day and beetroot burgers are in ‘season’.

Chemically, beetroots are remarkably simple.

ingredients of an AUSTRALIAN BEETROOTThe colour in beetroots comes from just two E-numbers (which are each groups of about 10 compounds); and the flavour comes almost entirely from geosimin. So simple.

Happy Australia Day!

On a Podcast, I Explain Why I Made These Graphics

The Collapsed Wavefunction Podcast

I went on a science podcast explaining why I made the Banana posters. The episode’s called “Bananas, Eggs and Blueberries”, and is presented by Chad Jones and Sam Matthews of The Collapsed Wavefunction.

It was an excellent conversation. Listen to it on iTunes here or online here.

Show Notes (all times are approximate):

  • 1:30 – Where did the idea for these posters come from?
  • 4:00 – Chemophobia and the posters. James says that relevance – not chemophobia – was the driving motivation for the posters.
  • 8:00 – You can now get T-Shirts with the ingredients.
  • 9:00 – How did James determine what chemicals are really in these foods?
  • 10:30 – Why isn’t potassium listed in the ingredients for a banana? Aren’t bananas full of potassium
  • 11:30 – “E-numbers”: What are they and what is the fear about?
  • 15:00 – As a high school teacher, what opinion does James have about the state of science education?
  • 17:00 – What else can we do to make chemistry relevant? A KickStarter perhaps?
  • 21:00 – The Fortnightly Scientist: Luca Turin (TED talk)
  • 28:00 – Table of Esters and their Smells
  • 31:30 – Why James made all these posters
  • 35:45 – How can I do what James does?

Poster Prints Now Available

jameskennedymonash poster selection

I’m obsessed with print. I love typefaces, I care about using the right quality paper and inks, and I’m fussy about alignment, kerning and line spacing. And that’s why I decided to sell “Ingredients” poster prints.

I’ve got one of each of these prints, and—Wow!—they look so much more gorgeous in real life than on-screen.

Ordering prints is a less formal affair than the T-Shirt Store—just cover my costs via PayPal and I’ll get the prints on the way to your address within 24 hours. Click the Order Prints tab in the website’s ribbon to get your hands on some of these “Ingredients” prints.

Oh—and they’re cheap. Just $10 each and worldwide shipping is available 🙂

Order one to help spread the word. I’ll even sign them if you like 😉 James

My T-Shirt Store is Now Open!

Love Science? Show off your love of “organic” chemistry with an Ingredients T-Shirt from James Kennedy Clothing. All our T-shirts are made in Australia. Priced from just $15.95 each.

Visit our store here: http://jameskennedymonash.secure-decoration.com/shop

James Kennedy Clothing T-Shirt Store
Click the image to visit the official “All-Natural Ingredients” Store

Just 10 days after it was created, the Ingredients of an All-Natural Banana was already the third most Reddited post of all time on Reddit Chemistry.

They were downloaded 7,000 times last week from this website alone.

I didn’t intend to make any more of these images. Three was enough. But I decided to take this Ingredients theme a bit further after I saw how widely they’d been circulated on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and various other social media sites—many of which are in foreign languages—and none of which, I use.

So welcome to the Store. There’ll be more products coming soon if people like what’s already up there. I welcome your feedback as always. James 🙂

Banana/Blueberry/Egg Ingredients Poster PDFs

Here are high-resolution PDFs of all three posters. Free to use. Feedback welcome.

Click each image to download the PDF poster.

Ingredients of an All-Natural Egg Ingredients of an All-Natural Banana Ingredients of All-Natural Blueberries

About these posters: As a Chemistry teacher, I want to erode the fear that many people have of “chemicals”, and demonstrate that nature evolves compounds, mechanisms and structures far more complicated and unpredictable than anything we can produce in the lab.

Table of Organic Compounds and their Smells: revised edition

Thanks to the thorough, kind and extremely useful feedback I’ve received as a result of making this chart, I’ve created a revised edition of the Table of Organic Compounds and their Smells poster with 8 additions and corrections. See details underneath.

Table of organic compounds and their smells W12
Click to download PDF version

Additions

  • I found a really old botany book that says undecan-2-one smells like “rue wort”. I don’t know what “rue wort” is, but I’ve labelled it on the chart anyway.
  • Added a 15-carbon row, which includes tamarind, celery and musk smells.
  • Added a benzene row, which includes almonds, tar and orange smells.
  • Added methene, CH₂! It’s extremely unstable and is usually called ‘carbene’. Nobody knows what it smells like because it reacts before it reaches your nose.

Corrections

  • Pentane now has a smell
  • Alkenes are now labelled ‘unpleasant’
  • Corrected the second ketone column header from “2-methyl-” to “methyl-“
  • Moved kumquats to the left.

There were also some minor aesthetic changes: skull & crossbones symbol shows high toxicity (category I or II), while a warning symbol shows moderate toxicity (category III). A green face icon represents a highly unpleasant smell.

Again, thank you to all the people who emailed or otherwise messaged me with feedback on this poster. It pleases me to see how much this poster’s been shared around the internet on many different platforms. I’m glad you find it interesting. 🙂

Infographic: Table of Esters and Their Smells v2 (200+ smells!)

Table of Esters and Their Smells v2
Click to download the high-res PDF version (1.8Mb)

This updated version of my Table of Esters and Their Smells contains 200+ smells from nearly as many esters.

Best of all are the phenylacetates that I’ve added, which smell like honey, chocolate and jasmine. I’ve also freshened up the fonts and added text labels where they were necessary. Take a look! 🙂

If you have any questions about this chart, just drop me an email or join the Reddit discussion here.

Feel free to use it as you wish. 😉

Book: Heinemann Chemistry 2 Enhanced (VCE Units 3 & 4)

Heinemann Chemistry 2 Enhanced cover


The best textbook for VCE Chemistry Units 3 & 4
496 pages, ★★★★★

Heinemann Chemistry 2 Enhanced (Heinemann 2) is the best VCE Chemistry textbook in existence. There are two other major brands (Nelson and Jacaranda) but Heinemann 2 beats both of them in terms of comprehensiveness and clarity.

I read the whole book from start to finish in preparation for teaching VCE Chemistry. I love the clarity, the use of full colour and the connections to real life in this book. I also love how the most difficult unit,  Unit 4, consists of hard and easy chapters in alternation! Left-brained chemical production processes are interspaced with right-brained “chemistry in society” chapters, which are easier to understand. The whole book is organised according to the VCE Chemistry Study Design, too—and the Key Knowledge from the Study Design are pasted at the start of each chapter.

Heinemann 2 isn’t perfect, though. I noticed two errors:

Page 91: the infra-red (IR) spectrum of ethanol is wrong. Compare the book’s example (top) with a typical example found online (bottom):

Ethanol WRONG Infrared Spectrum

Ethanol Infrared Spectrum

Why is the O-H stretch in Heinemann 2‘s spectrum so narrow and short?

Page 445: the bottom paragraph on tin plating is very unclear. The book uses “tin” to refer both to the “tin can” and to the “tin plating”, even though only the latter is actually made of tin. An extract from Heinemann 2 is below.

Confusing Extract from Heinemann 2

…that’s confusing!

With the exceptions of IR spectroscopy and tin plating, Heinemann 2 gives you comprehensive coverage of all the topics in VCE Chemistry. As long as you look up those two topics on ChemGuide, Heinemann 2 is the only textbook you’ll need to buy. ★★★★★

More resources might pique students’ interest, though. Try these websites:

  1. ChemGuide — succinct, text, covers VCE well ★★★★★
  2. Richard Thornley — tutorials for VCE and a little beyond ★★★★★
  3. Kahn Academy — tutorials for VCE and far beyond ★★★★★
  4. ShowMe — covers most of VCE ★★★★

And try these iPhone apps for organic chemistry:

  1. Organic Chemistry Nomenclature — revision flashcards ★★★
  2. MolPrime — great for drawing organic molecules with your finger ★★★
  3. ChemSpider — look up properties of the molecules you drew in MolPrime! These two apps work seamlessly together. ★★★

Book: Organic Chemistry I

Organic Chemistry I
All you need, in theory.

Systematic and super-concise. If only I could take all this in at once.
160 pages, ★★★★

Organic Chemistry I is the most concise guide to organic chemistry I’ve ever found.

The reality is, though, that you’ll have to spend a lot of time using the methods described in this book before they’ll finally sink in.

It would work well as a pre-exam study aid, or as a pre-university Chemistry refresher (as it is for me).

It only lacks the fifth star is because there’s too much to take in at once. While it’s possible to summarise all of Organic Chemistry into a 160-page book, it’s impossible to learn that much simply by reading it. Despite appearances, this book is no replacement for hours of classes, lab experiments, homework tasks and writing assignments. You’ll still need to go to school. ★★★★