Let's talk about inorganic chemistry

“I can’t show a general audience a diagram of a complex molecule and expect them to know what it means,” says Jeanna Brothers, a third-year chemistry student at UPEI. “But it’s important information. So I have to find a way to simplify this science without dumbing it down, and without making it boring.”
 

Jeanna will be one of several third-year chemistry students giving public lectures this weekend on “Inorganic Chemistry in Real Life.” The lectures run from 2-4 pm in room 128 of the K.C.Irving Chemistry Centre.
 
Inorganic chemistry is the chemistry of the array of elements that aren't Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen and Oxygen. The students will lecture on the diversity and impact of inorganic chemistry on people’s real lives.
 
“My presentation is on inorganic chemistry in pesticides,” says Jeanna. “When you’re talking about pesticides, some of the most effective we have contain chlorine. Chlorine-based pesticides were a 20th century revolution. It resulted in increased production, and decreased bugs—with the added benefit of decreasing certain diseases that are carried by bugs, such as malaria.”
 
Jeanna points out that the downside of some of these chemicals weren’t known until after they had been in use for many years. Often, they were not only effective in harming their targets, but other species as well. Jeanna will discuss some of the pros and cons of inorganic pesticides, including the importance of regulation to ensure that their effectiveness is balanced with potential negative impacts.
 
Jeanna’s teacher, Dr. Michael Shaver, says the public component of these lectures is crucial.
 
“Clear communication is a lost art in many disciplines but is essential to creating public awareness, support, and motivation for change,” says Dr. Shaver. “The small class sizes at UPEI offer students a unique opportunity to learn skills that aren't traditionally associated with science courses. These students are learning the important skill of communicating science to the public.”
 
Presentations include:
 
"Green Chemistry in Inorganic Chemistry"
 
"Inorganic Chemistry and the Environment"
 
"Inorganic Compounds in our Bodies"
 
"Electronic Inorganics: Inorganic Chemistry in Batteries and Computers"
 
"The Periodic Table and the Elements"
 
"Explosives"
 
"Transition Metals in Medicine"
 
"Hydrogen Fuel Cells: An Energy S"
 
Photo provided by Dr. Jason Pearson. It is a representation of a molecule of iron oxide — the compound that gives soil on Prince Edward Island its characteristic red colour.