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Chemistry International

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Volume 41, Issue 4


Elements of Education

Peter Atkins
Published Online: 2019-10-31 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ci-2019-0404


The periodic table was born in chemical education and thrives there still. Mendeleev was inspired to create his primitive but pregnant table in order to provide a framework for the textbook of chemistry that he was planning, and it has remained at the heart of chemical education ever since. It could be argued that the education of a chemist would be almost impossible without the table; at least, chemistry would remain a disorganized heap of disconnected facts. Thanks to Mendeleev and his successors, by virtue of the periodic table, chemical education became a rational discussion of the properties and transformations of matter. I suspect that the educational role of the periodic table is its most important role, for few research chemists begin their day (I suspect) by gazing at the table and hoping for inspiration, but just about every chemistry educator uses it as a pivot for their presentation.


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    Peter Atkins, The periodic kingdom. Wiedenfeld and Nicolson (1995).Google Scholar

About the article

Peter Atkins

Peter Atkins < > was an Oxford professor of chemistry and fellow of Lincoln College until his retirement in 2007. He has written more than 70 books, the best-known of which is Physical Chemistry. His other major textbooks include Inorganic Chemistry, Molecular Quantum Mechanics, Physical Chemistry for the Life Sciences, and Elements of Physical Chemistry. He chaired the IUPAC Committee on Chemistry Education from 2001 to 2005.

Published Online: 2019-10-31

Published in Print: 2019-10-01

Citation Information: Chemistry International, Volume 41, Issue 4, Pages 4–7, ISSN (Online) 1365-2192, ISSN (Print) 0193-6484, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ci-2019-0404.

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©2019 IUPAC & De Gruyter. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. For more information, please visit: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/.Get Permission

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