Here is a little gift for you – a free pdf of the coolest book I have ever seen. I wish someone had given me this when I was younger so I wanted to share it. If you have any younger siblings please also pass it on to them. I think it will i
Back in the 1960s, before health and safety etc., Robert Brent and Harry Lazarus published ‘The Golden Book of Chemistry Experiments’. This gorgeous book aimed to teach children basic Chemistry and how to set up a Chemistry lab at home. It has instructions for over 200 chemistry experiments, some of which I can’t actually believe are in there – like how to produce the highly toxic gas, Chlorine (please, please don’t do this!!). These are not your typical home experiments like the cornflour gloop that we’ve all seen hundreds of times – these are proper chemistry experiments like you should be doing at school. It even shows you how to shape your own glassware!
Now, I’m not suggesting that you actually do set up your own Chemistry lab but I think that this book will be really interesting for A level and IB chemistry students. It contains a lot of chemistry history, which I swear is more interesting than it sounds. But there are countless reasons why I think you will find it useful. Firstly, it contains a lot of information about the different elements. For instance there are sections on silicon and sulfur. We only ever mention these in passing at GCSE and A level and it’s a shame because they’re pretty interesting, as you will see in this book.
Secondly, it’s very in line with the things you learn at school. There’s a section on chemical formulae, displacement reactions, acid-base reaction, the usual stuff. As this is a children’s book these are all very well explained. So this book is a good place to look if you are struggling with any of these concepts. Plus, as it’s a book based on experiments, all of the concepts are illustrated with practical examples. For example it shows you how to do electrolysis of water. It breaks everything down really well, in a way that isn’t really done at school. I know that I never had a clue what was going in in practicals at school – I was too busy following the instructions and trying not to burn my hand off or gas myself to death to really learn anything. But because the explanation of the practicals are so basic and clear I think they might be really helpful.
The book is obviously really dated but I think that’s what makes it so amazing. There’s a section at the end that describes the challenges for chemists of the future (the future being after 1960) and I think it’s really interesting to see how far we have come since the 60s and how far we still have to go. Plus it doesn’t really matter how old the book is – the chemistry is still relevant today.
Here’s a link for you to download it. It’s just a link to chemistry.about.com so you’re not going to end up with a virus or anything.
Image from chemistry.about.com