Chemicals and Chemistry

Sometimes when we hear the word “chemical” we think of toxic, harmful substances. But the truth is that a chemical is any substance consisting of matter. Matter consists of particles that may be molecules, atoms, subatomic bits (like protons, electrons etc). It has mass and takes up space in our world. Chemicals can be ‘pure’ – an element like carbon, for example, or a mixture – liquid, solid or gas. So anything you can taste, smell, or hold consists of matter and is therefore a chemical.

If anything made of matter is made up of chemicals, then only phenomena that aren’t made of matter are not chemicals. Energy is not a chemical. Light, heat, and sound are not chemicals — nor are thoughts, dreams, gravity, or magnetism.

Examples of chemicals include the chemical elements, such as zinc, helium, and oxygen; compounds made from elements including water, carbon dioxide, and salt; and more complex materials like your computer, air, rain, a chicken, a car, or your favourite playground.

It follows then, that chemistry is the study of everything! Matter is all around us. It makes up everything we are, that we touch, make, eat, construct and destroy. The study of chemistry if often considered difficult, but UNE Discovery aims to break down that perception; to help everyone understand that chemistry is life!

UNE Discovery facilitates chemistry experiences for students from Kindergarten to Year 10, and include teachers in the exciting process. To be a part of the change of thinking about chemistry, it’s important to play with solids, liquids and gases in a safe environment. Humans have learned so much about chemicals, and the world we live in that there are simple concepts we can learn early in our lives in order to understand rules and laws about how matter (chemicals!) behave, and how we use them in our everyday life. UNE Discovery’s Creative Chemistry (high school activity) and Curious Chemicals (primary school) activities use specific substances in shows and experiences to demonstrate some of these rules and laws. We explore gases, the power of hydrogen (pH), volatility, flammability, mixtures, state change and more.

Chem Supply is an Australian company that manufactures and supplies laboratory and industrial specialty chemical products. They understand the importance of chemistry education in the early years, and that often chemistry can be overlooked in primary school science programs due to competing demands, lack of confidence and knowledge about chemistry, or low interest from teachers.

Chem Supply has been supplying chemicals for research and teaching to UNE for decades, as well as supporting outreach and school education on campus through Far Out Science.

Now they are supporting UNE Discovery! We are excited to announce that from 2019 Chem Supply is a new sponsor of our Voyager program, and supplying specialty chemicals to run our shows and hands on activities that showcase the importance, excitement and usefulness of chemistry!