Discussions held in the chemical education community have generated a variety of reports and recommendations for reforming the chemistry curriculum. The recommendations refer to teaching chemistry in the context of real-world issues. This has been suggested as a way to enhance students' motivation. It is suggested that real-world problems emphasize the interdisciplinary nature of chemistry and the relevance of chemistry to the students' lives. An attempt was made to incorporate these recommendations into the teaching of chemistry by teaching analytical chemistry together with environmental chemistry. A unit incorporating analytical chemistry in an environmental context was developed, in which the students learn concepts of a specific environmental issue. The unit “I Have Chemistry with the Environment”, consisting of two modules, was developed on the topics of drinking-water quality, and the greenhouse effect. The research questions focus on the change in the attitudes and perceptions of the students toward chemistry and environmental issues, after learning the environmental unit. The results indicate that the students underwent a significant change in their awareness of environmental issues. All the students mentioned that the unit influenced their everyday-life perceptions of environmental issues and that their awareness of environmental issues increased. Another important finding was that more students found that learning the “I Have Chemistry with the Environment” unit encouraged them to learn chemistry. They indicated that they especially appreciated the feeling that they could discover things by themselves. Clearly, the students found that learning the unit was relevant to chemistry learning as well as to their personal lives. Researchers believe that such a program may promote education for sustainable development.
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Chemistry Education Research and Practice
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