Mobilizing Minds: Teaching Math and Science in the Age of Sputnik


Two curriculum projects, the Chemical Bond Approach Project and the Chemical Education Material Study (CHEM Study), helped to reshape chemistry teaching. The heads of these programs were Laurence E. Strong of Earlham College and Nobel Laureate Glenn Seaborg of the University of California at Berkeley. Both courses sought to interweave modern chemical principles and experimental evidence. They placed more emphasis on understanding general concepts than on knowing details about the behavior of specific chemicals. They insisted on raising speculative questions, including some not yet answered.

Periodic Chart of the Atoms, 1963

By the 1920s, chemists and physicists explained many of the properties of elements by the structure of their atoms. Henry D. Hubbard of the National Bureau of Standards prepared a chart of the elements that presented chemical groupings in terms of atomic structure. Hubbard's wall chart was designed for college students and practicing scientists. It was regularly revised and republished. After the launch of Sputnik, professors attempted to incorporate atomic theory into courses for American high school students.

Chemical Bond Approach Project, Chemical Systems, 1964

During the summer of 1957, the American Chemical Society sponsored a conference for research chemists and teachers concerned about improving high school chemistry teaching. They concluded that courses would benefit from having a central theme that drew together the topics discussed. The following summer, a second group chose the chemical bond as their theme and began work on teaching materials. Classroom trials were soon underway. The result was this textbook, as well as a laboratory manual and a teacher's guide.

Chemical Education Material Study, Chemistry an Experimental Science, 1963

Another group of chemists and teachers, one headed by Nobel Laureate Glenn Seaborg, developed this book. The CHEM Study high school course introduced atomic theory and ideas about energy. Later sections suggested how these principles applied to specific chemical elements and reactions. An extensive series of experiments and films accompanied the text.

Periodic Table of the Elements, 1964

Chemical distributors such as E. H. Sargent & Company of Chicago prepared smaller periodic tables that students could fit into their notebooks. These included a wealth of detailed information about both the atomic structure and the physical properties of different elements.

SRM Molecular Fragments, about 1971

In 1953, the chemists R. B. Corey and Linus Pauling proposed building accurate space-filling molecular models for use by research chemists. They used models made of wood. W. L. Koltun improved the connectors used, and they sold as CPK models. They were too expensive for general classroom use. However, Donald Hedberg suggested a less costly form of "molecular fragments," made from hard plastic and distributed in kits like this one. Different ions are represented by models that differ in size, shape, and color. This is an incomplete version of one such set. It could be purchased with funds from the NDEA.