Chem Academia

Changes in Chem­istry Cur­ricu­lum and the Role of Chem­istry Olympiads - Dr D V Prabhu, Wil­son Col­lege, Mumbai

Chemical Industry Digest - - What’s In? - Ex­cerpts from the ar­ti­cle are re­pro­duced here

To meet the chal­lenges of glob­al­iza­tion, it is nec­es­sary to con­tin­u­ously in­no­vate our chem­istry cur­ricu­lum, teach­ing and eval­u­a­tion meth­ods. This calls for proper plan­ning and re­or­ga­ni­za­tion of our ed­u­ca­tional setup to make it re­spon­sive to the chang­ing needs of so­ci­ety. Chem­istry cur­ric­ula have to be reg­u­larly up­dated keep­ing in mind the re­cent de­vel­op­ments in the sub­ject and the needs of the chem­i­cal in­dus­try.

Chem­istry ed­u­ca­tion has un­der­gone rapid trans­for­ma­tion due to the chang­ing face of chem­i­cal re­search which has be­come more and more in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary in na­ture. Chem­istry has changed from struc­ture driven to func­tion driven and to­day is more about sys­tems than just mol­e­cules. To­day’s ‘Bor­der­less Chem­istry’ has bro­ken the bar­ri­ers of the tra­di­tion­ally dis­ci­plined chem­istry. Hence it is im­per­a­tive that mod­ern chem­istry ed­u­ca­tion has to be driven by these emerg­ing trends and our stu­dents should be given a fla­vor of re­search in their col­lege/univer­sity days.

In­ter­na­tional Chem­istry Olympiad (IChO) has emerged as a ma­jor in­no­va­tor of Chem­istry Ed­u­ca­tion es­pe­cially in our coun­try. The In­ter­na­tional Chem­istry Olympiad, started in the erst­while Cze­choslo­vakia, has emerged as the most chal­leng­ing Chem­istry com­pe­ti­tion for pre-univer­sity stu­dents. It brings to­gether the most gifted and mo­ti­vated stu­dents of the world in a friendly com­pe­ti­tion of the high­est level. It is prob­a­bly the only com­pe­ti­tion which em­pha­sizes both the­ory (60% weigh­tage) and ex­per­i­men­ta­tion (40% weigh­tage). The ques­tions (mul­ti­ple choice and the­ory) are non-con­ven­tional and of high cal­i­bre which test the stu­dents’ un­der­stand­ing and com­pre­hen­sion of the sub­ject, rea­son­ing and log­i­cal think­ing and prob­lem solv­ing skills and is not based only on mem­ory. The ex­per­i­ments are open ended and de­tailed pro­to­cols are pro­vided which have to be fol­lowed metic­u­lously. The IChO syl­labus is reg­u­larly re­vised by the In­ter­na­tional Chem­istry Olympiad Com­mit­tee.

In­dia has been par­tic­i­pat­ing in IChO since 1999 and has done re­mark­ably well earn­ing medals and ranks. In­dia hosted the 33rd IChO in 2001 at Mumbai – an event which had a huge im­pact on Chem­istry Ed­u­ca­tion in our coun­try. Homi Bhabha Cen­tre for Sci­ence Ed­u­ca­tion (TIFR) is the nodal agency of the Gov­ern­ment of In­dia for or­ga­niz­ing Sci­ence Olympiads in the coun­try and for se­lec­tion and train­ing of the In­dian teams par­tic­i­pat­ing in the var­i­ous In­ter­na­tional Sci­ence Olympiads. The In­dian Olympiad pro­gramme

is fully funded by the Gov­ern­ment of In­dia through MHRD and its fund­ing agen­cies like DAE, DST and BRNS. As­so­ci­a­tion of Chem­istry Teach­ers, the na­tional reg­is­tered body of chem­istry ed­u­ca­tors is ac­tively in­volved in the In­dian Na­tional and In­ter­na­tional Chem­istry Olympiads.

It is a mat­ter of pride that In­dia fea­tures among the top 5-8 teams and al­most all stu­dents have won medals.

Some Off­shoots of IChO

The In­ter­na­tional Chem­istry Olympiad is the har­bin­ger of in­no­va­tion in Chem­istry Ed­u­ca­tion. The im­por­tant off­shoots of ICho are:

1. The in­no­va­tive and fo­cused na­ture of the Olympiad ex­am­i­na­tion ques­tions is be­ing in­creas­ingly re­flected in the com­pet­i­tive and col­lege ex­am­i­na­tions held in the coun­try.

2. Per­ceiv­able changes are seen in the teach­ing of

Chem­istry es­pe­cially ex­per­i­men­ta­tion.

3. Na­tional level re­search in­sti­tu­tions and dis­tin­guished sci­en­tists are get­ting in­volved in Sci­ence ed­u­ca­tion.

4. Re­source gen­er­a­tion camps (RGCs) are in­creas­ingly be­ing or­ga­nized for school and col­lege teach­ers to gen­er­ate good qual­ity ques­tions and to de­vice new ex­per­i­ments.

The In­dian Na­tional Olympiad pro­gramme fol­lows a five stage process, which is de­tailed in the ar­ti­cle.

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