Chemistry International
Vol. 22, No.4, July 2000

2000, Vol. 22
No. 4 (July)
..Chemistry in Argentina
..News from IUPAC
..Report of Accounts 1998-99
..Reports from Symposia

..Reports from Commissions
..Provisional Recommendations
..Awards and Prizes
..New Books
..Conference Announcements
..Conference Calendar

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Chemistry International
Vol. 22, No. 4
July 2000

News from IUPAC


DIDACtic Tools for Teaching Chemistry

Carbon—you can talk about it many different ways; what would be yours? You can do your best and picture yourself as the latest avant-garde modernist painter (right), or simply use DIDAC (below).
Three different allotropic forms of carbon, illustrated by diamond, graphite, and fullerene.

Because chemistry is fun and teaching it is not always easy, Agfa-Gevaert N.V., Belgium, has developed and produced "didactic" tools such as the DIDAC overhead transparency sheets. For more than five years, Belgian chemistry teachers in several respected schools have been using DIDAC overhead sheets. In the past year, and with the impetus of the Belgian National Adhering Organization, IUPAC's Committee on Chemistry and Industry (COCI), and, more recently, IUPAC's Committee on Teaching of Chemistry (CTC) have recognized the value of this project, and are actively promoting these materials.

Via a collaboration with UNESCO, and after the IUPAC Congress in Berlin in 1999, DIDAC material was presented at advanced teacher training courses January to May 2000 in Libya, Mali, Burkina Faso, Belarus, Lithuania, Yemen, Niger, and Iran. By the end of this year, at least 10 more new training activities will be organized in Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean; these training activities also feature a workshop on microchemistry organized by CTC. By the end of 2001, the project should be in more than 30 countries around the world. The international use of DIDAC should increase because only simple facilities are required for the different levels and different curricula.

As one chemistry teacher put it, "Sometimes it can be awfully difficult to explain a chemical subject by drawing an illustrative picture on the blackboard. Especially when you need three-dimensional drawings, or you are dealing with topics like chemical bonds, equilibria, etc. It is so much more relaxing if you already have the illustration on an overhead sheet, as you then can concentrate on explaining the concept. And that is exactly why I use DIDAC transparencies in my lessons".

When designing the sheets, the topics that are difficult to illustrate on a blackboard first came to mind. The carefully devised, attractive graphical representations help students to visualize the concepts and understand the theory. The sheets do not include narrative text, which make them accessible regardless of the language spoken in class. The sheets are designed for every level; the teacher selects only the sheets that provide added value to the lesson and match the level of the students in each class. Accompanying explanations for the teacher are available in Dutch, French, and English. The sheets are not meant to replace a course book, but merely to help explain topics that are rather difficult to illustrate.


Five kits are currently available. Each illustrates several common chemical subjects, from the role of chemistry in our daily lives to basic theoretical concepts. Each teaching module consists of approximately 60 color transparencies and presents chemical concepts in an easy-to-understand way.

A black-and-white version of the transparencies, from which copies can be made, is included for the students. For example, the figure above illustrates catalytic converters in cars, and the figure below depicts a 2p y orbital. (Download pdf of Didac Images, 383K)

Volume 1

Role of chemistry in our daily lives (10 sheets)
Water (8 sheets)
Periodic table of the elements (31 sheets)
Colloidal systems (7 sheets)
Thermodynamics (14 sheets)

Volume 2

Chemical equilibria (27 sheets)
Petrochemistry (16 sheets)
Silverhalide photography (17 sheets + 3 wedges)

Volume 3

Electrochemistry (22 sheets)
Air and water (19 sheets)
Atomic models (21 sheets)

Volume 4

Polymers (28 sheets)
Biopolymers (25 sheets)
Chemical bonds (26 sheets)

Volume 5

Separation techniques (19 sheets)
Chemistry and health (19 sheets)

The content is specifically designed for students in secondary and higher education. As each sheet is self-contained, the teacher can use only the sheets that are applicable to their students and match their level. Thus, teachers still have complete freedom to design lessons in the way they feel is best for their classes.

High Pedagogical Value

The DIDAC editorial team consisted of Agfa chemists and an interuniversity group of professors and teachers from several Flemish universities, colleges, and didactic centers. This team ensured the educational value of each set of overhead sheets. They also selected the topics that were to be addressed in consultation with teachers, and in relation to the curriculum of secondary schools and colleges. The accompanying explanations provided with each teaching module constitute a valuable support for pre-service and in-service teacher training. The DIDAC editorial team welcomes any comments and suggestions from the chemistry community.

The DIDAC web site presents detailed contents of each volume. Sample sheets can be viewed there in color and as they will appear on an overhead projector. Price and ordering information are also available on the DIDAC web site, or you may contact

IUPAC Secretariat
P.O. Box 13757
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-3757
USA; Tel: +1 919 485 8700
Fax: +1 919 485 8706
URL specifically for DIDAC:


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