You’ve heard you can’t judge a book by its cover. However, with a Journal of Chemical Education issue, the cover can serve as a useful reminder. Editor-in-chief Norb Pienta’s editorial Illustrating the Human Side of Teaching and Learning (open access without a subscription) walks through a “brief visual history of Journal covers,” highlighting how the covers show interactions between the chemistry itself with those who teach and learn it. As Pienta describes, “Where most of the ACS Journals Division portfolio is about the central science, the teaching and learning of chemistry is about people. … The Journal of Chemical Education covers how people interact with the science.”
Pienta’s editorial focuses on how materials that appear in JCE inform those who educate and help them to continue to evolve, as each issue “provides instructors with ideas and materials to adopt and adapt.” Articles help readers to be aware of practices and developments in chemical education, and to consider possible implementation in their own classrooms. As Pienta states, “Updating teaching practices is not merely change for the sake of change. … Students deserve the best efforts from instructors, and scholarship in this Journal can support that meaningful change.”
For me, a cover is one way to recognize a particular issue and to reconnect with the resources and the people behind them. Even when a cover does not explicitly show the human face of chemistry, it is still there. For example, even 15 years after publication, when I see the two covers below, they take me back to National Chemistry Week 2001, the two artists whose work made the covers possible, and how their interaction with chemistry can extend into the lives of JCE readers.
The first cover image, from October 2001, was the work of science photographer Felice Frankel. It was one of the examples Frankel discussed in her article Communicating Science through Photography (available to JCE subscribers) from that same issue. She shared behind-the-scenes information about creating images for presentations and articles with researchers and students, and how we can strive to clearly represent the chemistry to others through visuals.
The second cover image was from a month later, November 2001. The paper-based artwork pictured was part of a series created by artist Jura Silverman. In this case, I got to experience the teaching and learning of the chemistry associated with paper making on a direct level by spending the day in Silverman’s studio. She and I, along with JCE videographer/photographer Jerry Jacobsen, learned about the equipment and stages of her work, and captured them to share with readers. The results are online supporting information for the hands-on student activity New Paper from Newspaper (available to JCE subscribers), where others are able to try it for themselves using simpler materials, while still learning the cellulose chemistry that underlies the process.
Chemistry content is key, but the Journal is more—those sharing their work, those reading and reflecting on the work, those who engage in classroom learning informed by that work. Pienta concludes, “As we go forward, the Journal will continue to reflect that as chemists we are involved in human endeavors.”
More from the October 2018 Issue
There really is no better time than National Chemistry Week (NCW) to be reminded of the human side of chemistry, as people around the world celebrate its value in everyday life. Along with her usual overview of the complete issue in JCE 95.10 October 2018 Issue Highlights, Mary Saecker digs into the archives for resources that mesh with the 2018 NCW theme “Chemistry Is Out of This World!”