Chemistry indeed came of age when Antoine Lavoisier (1743–1794), developed the theory of Conservation of mass in 1783; and the development of the Atomic Theory by John Dalton around 1800. The Law of Conservation of Mass resulted in the reformulation of chemistry based on this lawand the oxygen theory of combustion, which was largely based on the work of Lavoisier. Lavoisier’s fundamental contributions to chemistry were a result of a conscious effort to fit all experiments into the framework of a single theory. He established the consistent use of the chemical balance, used oxygen to overthrow the phlogiston theory, and developed a new system of chemical nomenclature and made contribution to the modern metric system. Lavoisier also worked to translate the archaic and technical language of chemistry into something that could be easily understood by the largely uneducated masses, leading to an increased public interest in chemistry. All these advances in chemistry led to what is usually called the chemical revolution. The contributions of Lavoisier led to what is now called modern chemistry—the chemistry that is studied in educational institutions all over the world. It is because of these and other contributions that Antoine Lavoisier is often celebrated as the “Father of Modern Chemistry”. The later discovery of Friedrich Wöhler that many natural substances, organic compounds, can indeed be synthesized in a chemistry laboratory also helped the modern chemistry to mature from its infancy.
The discovery of the chemical elements has a long history from the days of alchemy and culminating in the discovery of the periodic table of the chemical elements by Dmitri Mendeleev (1834–1907) and later discoveries of some synthetic elements.
In a nutshell, the importance of chemistry is that it explains the world around you. We’re all chemists. We use chemicals every day and perform chemical reactions without thinking much about them. Chemistry is important because everything you do is chemistry! Even your body is made of chemicals. Chemical reactions occur when you breathe, eat, or just sit there reading. All matter is made of chemicals, so the importance of chemistry is that it’s the study of everything.
- Cooking : Chemistry explains how food changes as you cook it, how it rots, how to preserve food, how your body uses the food you eat, and how ingredients interact to make food.
- Cleaning : Part of the importance of chemistry is it explains how cleaning works. You use chemistry to help decide what cleaner is best for dishes, laundry, yourself, and your home. You use chemistry when you use bleaches and disinfectants and even ordinary soap and water. How do they work? That’s chemistry!
- Medicine : You need to understand basic chemistry so you can understand how vitamins, supplements, and drugs can help or harm you. Part of the importance of chemistry lies in developing and testing new medical treatments and medicines.
- Environmental Issues : Chemistry is at the heart of environmental issues. What makes one chemical a nutrient and another chemical a pollutant? How can you clean up the environment? What processes can produce the things you need without harming the environment?
Chemistry as a Career
Chemists are the people who transform the everyday materials around us into amazing things. Some chemists work on cures for cancer while others monitor the ozone protecting us from the sun. Still others discover new materials to make our homes warmer in the winter, or new textiles to be used in the latest fashions. The knowledge gained through the study of chemistry opens many career pathways. Here are just a few of the careers chosen by chemists. Fields related to chemistry are Agricultural Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Catalysis, Chemical Education, Chemical Engineering, Chemical Information Specialists, Chemical Sales, Chemical Technology, Colloid and Surface Chemistry, Consulting, Consumer Product Chemistry, Environmental Chemistry, Food and Flavour Chemistry, Forensic Chemistry, Geochemistry, Hazardous Waste Management, Inorganic Chemistry, Materials Science, Medicinal Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Oil and Petroleum, Physical Chemistry, Polymer Chemistry, Pulp and Paper Chemistry, R&D Management, Science Writing, Textile Chemistry, Water Chemistry.
- The course is self-contained and broadly covers fundamental concepts of Chemistry.
- Attempt has been made to see discipline of Chemistry does not remain only the science of facts but becomes related to modern applications in the world around us.
- The syllabus provides logical sequencing of the ‘Units’ of the subject matter with proper placement of concepts with their linkages for better understanding.
- Emphasis has been on promoting process – skills, problem solving abilities and applications of concepts of Chemistry useful in real life situation for making learning of Chemistry more relevant, meaningful and interesting.
- An effort has been made on the basis of feedback, to remove repetition besides reducing the content by suitably integrating the different content areas.
Higher Secondary Stage is the most crucial stage of school education because at this stage specialized discipline based, content oriented courses are introduced. Students reach this stage after 10 years of general education and opt for Chemistry with a purpose of mostly for pursuing their career in basic sciences or professional courses like medicines, engineering, technology and studying courses in applied areas of science and technology at tertiary level. Therefore, at this stage, there is a need to provide learners with sufficient conceptual background of Chemistry, which will make them competent to meet the challenges of academic and professional courses after the higher secondary stage.
Salient features of the Course are thus :
- Some background of Chemistry from secondary stage is assumed; however, no specific knowledge of topics in Chemistry is pre-supposed.
- Promote understanding of basic principles in Chemistry while retaining the excitement in Chemistry.
- Develop an interest in students to study Chemistry as discipline.
- Strengthen the concepts developed at the secondary stage and to provide firm foundation for further learning of Chemistry at tertiary level more effectively.