George has a background in business and Chemistry, but spends his free time pursuing his passion in literature and writing.
Do you dread Chemistry classes? Do you find them difficult? Chemistry should not be that way. It should increase our wonder at the natural world and interest us in its many applications. It should be fun and easy. However, that is not the case.
This article provides tips and guidelines to make learning the Subject matter fun or at least easier.
Firstly, what makes the subject boring and difficult? Perhaps it is that we don't know why we need to study it; we can't see how it applies to us and how we can use it in our career or everyday life. And that brings us to our first point.
Know the Reason Why We Need to Study Chemistry
Ask yourself: why are you studying Chemistry? Is it a general requirement in high school? Are you taking extra subjects because you think it'd be fun? Are you taking Chemistry subjects as a requirement for med school? Are you going to pursue a career as a chemist?
Whatever the reason, you must first be clear as to your main drive to pursue a degree in Chemistry or take that elective class.
Look Into Its Applications
There are many applications to the study of chemistry. It can be used in medicine and health science; in the industry in the formulation of paints and coatings, pigments, and food and beverages; and environmental protection among others. Something will surely interests you. Think what you want to be. Do you want to be a police? A researcher? Do you want to learn how to make soaps? Perfume and scents? Pick out a profession or dream job you wish to take, and connect that with the topic. Being a police requires some understanding of chemistry, for example. You would need to analyse certain chemicals in the use of some crime. Connect the above reason, why you are taking the subject, with this. If you are taking the subject as pre-med, then look at it in that perspective. Think how it applies to being a doctor [i.e. Medicine]
Use Mnemonics or Memory Aids
There are fun ways to memorise certain small facts. This is through use of mnemonics or memory aids. When you were in elementary school, I'm sure that you used a mnemonic to memorise the nine planets [now eight] which goes "My Very Energetic Mother Just Sent Us Nine Pizzas". The starting letter of each word in the sentence corresponds to the first letter of the planet, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and so on. Similarly, there are such methods in the study of chemistry. One good example is OIL RIG which helps in remembering that Oxidation is loss [of electrons] while Reduction is gain. I prefer the alternative which is LEO the tiGER, but choose whichever helps you better, or better yet, create your own. I have been creating mnemonics in most of the small things I need to remember.
Use Visual Aids
Most times it is difficult to understand principles based on texts. Our minds are designed to understand and be captivated by images. It helps us learn if we can visualise the principles we are learning. A perfect example is the use of chemical models to be able to see and understand structure of atoms and molecules and chemical reactions. Below is such kit that can be purchased from Amazon.
Being creative by making songs or drawing also really helps. Try to use what you've learn and create something memorable. Here are some examples:
1) You can try funny images. This one is a fun way to know the different types of chemical bonds
You can also try songs:
2) Students have been struggling with the Periodic Table since its creation. This catchy song helps familiarise with the elements (and its uses)
3) A summary of what chemists do (and know)
Imagine That You Would Have to Teach The Subject
Lastly, sometimes the best way to learn and master the subject is to imagine that you would have to teach the subject. It helps if you have a study buddy who you can have discussions with.
As Richard Feynman once said, if you want to master something, teach it.
I hope these help and I wish you the best in your studies!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 George Xu