Department of Chemistry
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A Message from the Department
A message from the editor, Professor Bill Power.
The Fall 2022 Special Edition brings together twelve wonderful contributions from Chaim Christiana Andersen, Rosalina Naqitarvik and Prof. Geoff Rayner-Canham on the chemistry behind the traditional knowledge of the Inuit People.
Not included in the Indian Act, the Inuit People hold a separate legal status in Canada from First Nations and we acknowledge their importance in Canada’s history. We also acknowledge the various traditional lands and territories associated with Chem 13 News and the authors of this Fall 2022 Special Edition.
Inuit Nunangat (homelands)
In order to appreciate this compilation, it helps to have a knowledge of the names and locations of Inuit Nunangat (homelands) in Canada.
Included in the discussions of the Chemistry of Inuit Life and Culture are some of the Inuit terms. To appreciate any culture, it is important to know a little about the language.
The Chemistry and Inuit Life and Culture series backstory
How did this compilation on Chemistry and Inuit Life and Culture come to be? A good question! And one which provides important context.
7,000 years of Indigenous culture - and chemistry
If you travel to the far north of Labrador, you will find a mine: no, not the mine at Voisey’s Bay, site of one of the world’s richest nickel deposits, but way farther north at Ramah Bay. One difference is that the mine (or more accurately, quarry) at Ramah Bay was first being worked at least 7,000 years ago.
An essential Inuit condiment
Living and thriving cultures innovate, adapt and incorporate from other cultures. As the next topic in our series on chemistry and Inuit life and culture, we have chosen soy sauce. Though part of Chinese cuisine from way back in the mists of time, it is a relatively recent addition to the Inuit diet and in a unique context.
The newest Arctic pollutant
The Earth is a giant distillation apparatus in a process known as the Grasshopper Effect, or Global Distillation. Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) have been transported to the poles for decades via Global Distillation, where they concentrate in fatty tissues of animals and fish. Now there is a new threat to northern (predominantly Inuit) well-being: the PFOS family.
Essential for northern survival
The Inuit live half of their lives in subzero temperatures. So, along with the sometimes elegant and sometimes aggressive snowfalls, sea ice is part of Inuit life for a substantial portion of the year. It's a means of transportation; it ensures access to food; and it drives the deep-water ocean currents.
Case studies of some Inuit remedies
In this article, we have chosen to focus upon a few Inuit remedies and show how their action can be linked in many cases to specific, active molecules.
Unique and amazing
For Inuit, the aurora light up the darkness in the long winter nights, and have a profound spiritual role in their culture. To chemists, the chemistry underlying them is of equal fascination and even today, there are still gaps in our knowledge about them.
Making life possible in the Arctic
In this series, we have shown the importance of ice coverage of the Arctic Ocean for Inuit survival. But equally important, particularly through the long, cold, winters, is the solid crystalline form of dihydrogen oxide – snow. For this article, we will look at the chemistry of snow and its importance in Inuit life.
Some chemistry of the Inuit diet
In the Arctic, food resources are very scarce. In this article, we will look at some of these foods, though it should also be kept in mind that only a few will be available to any specific community. This is because Inuit communities occupy locations over a tremendous geographical area and climate range.
What was old is new again
Previously in this series, we showed that solid water, as ice and as snow, is an essential material in Inuit culture. Water is a pure substance. However, most materials used in Inuit life are not pure substances, but composites. So the first question to answer is: “What is a composite?”
Inuit rock of ages
Three of the Inuit homelands: Nunavut, Nunavik, and Nunatsiavut, are all located upon the oldest rocks on the planet: the Canadian Shield. The Canadian Shield is the original core of the North American continent.
Our way of life will change, our culture will survive
In the Preface of her book, Our Ice is Vanishing / Sikuvut Nunguliqtuq, Shelley Wright encapsulates the issue: "The Arctic is ruled by ice. For Inuit, it is the platform on which life is lived. But the ice is melting and becoming dangerous. Inuit are silaup aalaruqpalianigata tusaqtittijiit – witnesses and messengers of climate change."
We would like to acknowledge the following individuals whose teamwork and dedication made this project possible.
A Note to Readers
With the departure of our long-serving editor, Jean Hein, this past summer, we are in the midst of planning our strategy for the years ahead.
Gingerbread mini bath bombs
Angela Swartz from the Waterloo-Oxford District Secondary School in New Hamburg, ON sent in this cover photo of festive holiday bath bombs she made in the shape of mini gingerbread cookies.
Some of you may remember when smoking was permitted just about anywhere. My high school had an on-campus smoking area — the “butt lounge”. Author: Michael P Jansen, Crescent School, Toronto, Ontario
Having taught chemistry for over four decades, I am confident that I know my material. I also feel that I am doing a good job and have not retired because I still enjoy what I am doing. Author: Avi Ornstein, Classical Magnet School, Hartford, Connecticut
Chemistry Inuit Life and Culture
In this series, we have shown the importance of ice coverage of the Arctic Ocean for Inuit survival. But equally important, particularly through the long, cold, winters is the solid crystalline form of dihydrogen oxide — snow. Author: Chaim Christiana Andersen and Geoff Rayner-Canham, Grenfell Campus, Memorial University, Corner Brook, Newfoundland
Dear Fellow Educators, I want to start by thanking you for your commitment to opening young minds to the wonders of science. Your mentorship may well be responsible for the big inventions of the next generation. To inspire your students even more, I’d like to help you introduce them to some of the exciting new science currently being constructed at the Chemistry Department, University of Toronto. Author: Cecelia Kutas, University of Toronto (St. George Campus), Toronto, Ontario
I always look forward to December when I can start displaying a Chemis-tree and other decorations in and outside the lab. I also enjoy sharing a different "Chemis-tree" carol each day. Author: Mrs. Vivian Templeton, Toronto District Christian High School, Woodbridge, Ontario
Our Science Department enjoys planning themed activities that correspond to different holidays. Last year we decided to make bath bombs with our classes on the last day of school before the winter holiday. This is an activity that is easy to set up, can be carried out in one class period, and has minimal clean up. Author: Angela Swartz, Waterloo-Oxford District Secondary School, Baden, Ontario
Enter your students’ correct solutions into a draw on or before February 1, 2020. The prize is Instant Snow Polymer donated by Educational Innovations. Author: Avi Ornstein, Classical Magnet School, Hartford, Connecticut
2019 International Year of the Periodic Table
Although the radioactive elements uranium and thorium were discovered early in the history of the elements — 1789 and 1828, respectively, years before the advent of the Periodic Table — radioactivity itself was unknown until 1896 when Henri-Antoine Becquerel (1852-1908) in Paris found that uranium could expose photographic plates, even when protected by black opaque paper. The renowned Marie Curie (1867-1934) promptly made a study of all elements (that were known at that time) and determined that only two were radioactive — uranium and thorium.
The Periodic Table — A Very Short Introduction, by Eric R Scerri, 2019 Second Edition, Oxford University Press, 154 pages, paperback, ISBN 978-0-19-884232-3 $11.95 USD This Very Short Introduction is actually part of a very large series of books by the Oxford University Press on a very wide variety of subjects. The second edition was timed to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Periodic Table and the International Year of the Periodic Table (IYPT). Author: Lyle Sadavoy (retired), Toronto, Ontario
(This is reprinted from the December 2005 issue of Chem 13 News. Previously it was called Rosengarten’s garden.) Author: Mark Rosengarten, Washington High School, Washingtonville, New York
The ChemEd 2021 committee has already started planning the 5 day conference at the University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Author: Jean Hein, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario
Upcoming events in Winter and Spring 2020
To have your program listed, email Kathy Jackson at: firstname.lastname@example.org Author: Chem 13 News, Chemistry Department, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario
A tribute to Carey Bissonnette
This November issue is dedicated to Carey Bissonnette, who sadly passed away in May of this year. Many of you will remember him as the Chem 13 News Exam and Avogadro Exam coordinator as well as for his series "Tough Questions." We have included a heartfelt tribute by Bill Power, Chair of Waterloo's Department of Chemistry, a reprint of Carey's Tough Questions series, as well as tributes from readers.
The faculty, staff and students of the Department of Chemistry are mourning a great loss this year, that of our dear friend and devoted colleague, Dr. Carey Bissonnette. Author: Bill Power, Department Chairman and Associate Professor, Chemistry Department, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario
Chemistry students around the world have written the Avogadro and Chem 13 News Exams, prepared by the late Dr. Carey Bissonnette for many years. Author: Michael P Jansen, Crescent School, Toronto, Ontario
(This is a reprint from the May 2007 issue of Chem 13 News, page 16.) Author: Carey Bissonnette, CHEM 13 NEWS, Chemistry Department, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario
(This is a reprint from the September 2007 issue of Chem 13 News, pages 4-5.) Author: Carey Bissonnette, CHEM 13 NEWS Exam, Chemistry Department, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario
(This is a reprint from the October 2008 issue of Chem 13 News, pages 4-5.) Author: Carey Bissonnette, CHEM 13 NEWS Exam, Chemistry Department, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario
(This is a reprint from the September 2009 issue of Chem 13 News, pages 10-11.) Questions #12 and #24 from the 2009 CHEM 13 NEWS Exam challenged most students and quite a few teachers! Let’s focus first on question #12, which is reproduced below. Author: Carey Bissonnette, CHEM 13 NEWS Exam coordinator, Chemistry Department, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario
(This is a reprint from the March 2011 issue of Chem 13 News, pages 4-5.) Question #20 from the 2010 CHEM 13 NEWS Exam was, statistically speaking, the question that best discriminated between the “better” students and the “weaker” students. Author: Carey Bissonnette, CHEM 13 NEWS Exam coordinator, Chemistry Department, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario
(This is a reprint from the December 2011 and January 2012 issue of Chem 13 News, page 11.) The subject of this article is question #8 from the 2011 CHEM 13 NEWS Exam. Only 16% of students answered the question correctly and, more surprisingly, 62% of students did not answer it at all. Author: Carey Bissonnette, CHEM 13 NEWS Exam coordinator, Chemistry Department, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario
(This is a reprint from the March 2013 issue of Chem 13 News, pages 6-7.) The subject of this article is question #39 from the 2012 CHEM 13 NEWS Exam. Only 22% of students answered the question correctly and 52% of students did not answer it all. Author: Carey Bissonnette, CHEM 13 NEWS Exam coordinator, Chemistry Department, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario
(This is a reprint from the November 2013 issue of Chem 13 News, pages 3-4.) This article focuses on a couple of questions from the 2013 CHEM 13 NEWS Exam. The first is question #9, which is reproduced below. Almost all students responded (94%), with 34% of them choosing the correct response (B), and about the same percentage (32%) choosing answer C. This question was, from a statistical perspective, among those that best discriminated between the “stronger” students and the “weaker” students.
(This is a reprint from the February 2015 issue of Chem 13 News, pages 14-15.) This article focuses on question #10 from the 2014 CHEM 13 News Exam, which is reproduced below. The number below each response is the percentage of students selecting that response. The correct answer is E. Author: Carey Bissonnette, CHEM 13 NEWS Exam Coordinator, Chemistry Department, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario
This year’s Chemical Institute of Canada Beaumier Award for excellence in teaching chemistry at the high school or CÉGEP level in Canada is François Raymond. Author: Gale Thirwall, Chemical Institute of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario
2019 International Year of the Periodic Table
In 1789 Lavoisier turned the concept of “element” on its head when he proposed that water was a compound and that hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, sulfur, iron, copper, and 25 other substances were the true elements. Author: James L Marshall, Professor Emeritus, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas
The Bastard Brigade is Kean's first book involving physics. By his own admission, even though physics was his minor in University, his previous books(1-4) dealt with stories concerning chemistry and biology. As an English literature major, he prefers to tell a "rip roaring" story with science as a backdrop and he has picked a bombshell, literally, to launch his foray into physics. Author: Lyle Sadavoy (retired), Toronto, Ontario
Whenever I think of teaching and the underlying mission of our Chemistry department, student education, our colleague Carey was the first person I thought of. In spite of his extremely busy schedule, which included student mentoring, teaching classes, contributing to departmental topics, developing on-line learning initiatives, Carey was always there for us to share his wealth of knowledge in teaching methods and blend in the practical aspects of various approaches. Author: Chem 13 News, Chemistry Department, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario
The Mendeleev Mosaic
Students, teachers, and chemistry enthusiasts from 15 countries around the world submitted 327 original portraits of Mendeleev, which were then used to create a larger mosaic portrait of Dmitri Mendeleev himself.