Submitted by Shirley Lin / United States Naval Academy on Fri, 06/19/2020 - 10:40
My Notes

This Powerpoint presentation was developed to support diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the chemistry classroom. One of the challenges of modern chemistry (and other modern STEM fields) is that the history discussed in general chemistry textbooks often focuses on achievements by Western scientists. While the most prominent chemists in the area of modern atomic theory were privileged, Western white men, their ideas were influenced by centuries of chemistry practiced by peoples across the globe. The slides in the presentation try to outline the history of contributions to chemistry across all continents. In addition, the end of the presentation emphasizes that while modern atomic/molecular theory was developed largely by Western scientists, these ideas have been adopted by chemists worldwide and contributions to the discipline come from all continents.

This presentation is intended to complement other techniques to promote DEI such as discussing the work of chemists of different identities as a way of providing role models.

Learning Goals

After this presentation, a student will be able to...

  • identiy the timeline for the development of modern atomic theory
  • list technologies that utilize chemistry that pre-date modern atomic theory
  • give examples of contributions to chemistry by people living in diverse geographical regions

An aspirational goal is that individual students who are not from North America/Europe can recognize that the areas of the world that they and their progenitors are from did contribute to the development of chemistry.

Implementation Notes

I haven't yet implemented this LO. It may be a suitable first-day presentation to any chemistry course and could be used to start a conversation about why diversity in the chemistry community is important and valued.

There are some notes included with each slide but presenters may want to read through the Wikipedia links and/or other sources and use the additional information to tailor the narrative.

Time Required
depends upon implementation; the presentation itself may take only 10 minutes but giving some time for discussion might be helpful
Evaluation Methods

This type of content is probably best assessed using low-stakes assignments such as an extra-credit question on a quiz or a short, free-response question on a post-lab.

For example, question such as

* In what part of the world did gunpowder originate?

* List a common laboratory technique that was developed in the Middle East.

Evaluation Results

I have not yet evaluated this LO.

Creative Commons License
Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share Alike CC BY-NC-SA
Shirley Lin / United States Naval Academy

Notes from Nancy Williams regarding metallurgy:

There's [evidence of] meteoric iron in Egypt from 3200 BCE. There is some evidence of very limited ironworking in central Anatolia (Turkey the country) from about 1800, and non-trivial ironworking from 1400 BCE in that area. It doesn't seem to really spread as far as I can tell outside of Anatolia until the collapse of the Bronze Age around 1200 BCE.

Don't sleep on the role of China in the development of iron metallurgy, either. It's in China you get the first cast iron in about 500 BCE (cast iron requires actually melting the iron, unlike in a forge, where you never reach the melting point of Fe).

You don't get cast iron in the West until the 1400s.

Henry VIII imported iron casting from China to England...mostly, cast iron is so brittle that you can't make cannons out of it, but the iron mines in Kent are so rich in calcium carbonate (White Cliffs of Dover and all that) that the cast iron is pretty malleable, and can take the explosions. It enabled the English to outfit their ships with cheap cannons, and Elizabeth was able to beat the much richer Spanish Armada with their pricey bronze cannons because of it. 

Wed, 06/24/2020 - 13:14 Permalink
Kyle Grice / DePaul University

I incorporated this into my inorganic chemistry course the last time I taught it.

Thu, 08/18/2022 - 21:43 Permalink