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Federal Research Center 
"Krasnoyarsk Science Center of the Siberian
Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences"

 Федеральный исследовательский центр «Красноярский научный центр Сибирского отделения Российской академии наук»

Federal Research Center 
"Krasnoyarsk Science Center of the Siberian
Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences"

Krasnoyarsk residents tested their scientific literacy in chemistry

28 October 2019 г. FRC KSC SB RAS

Жители Красноярска проверили свою научную грамотность в области химии
On 12 October, Krasnoyarsk became one of the main venues for the international educational campaign “Chemical Laboratory” (MendeleevLab). The event was held as part of the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements proclaimed by the UN General Assembly. The date of the event was not random. This day is considered to be the birthday of the first chemical laboratory founded by Mikhail Lomonosov at the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences.

A total of almost 600 adults and 40 children tested their scientific literacy at six venues in the city. The largest number of visitors was received by the M.F. Reshetnev Siberian State University of Science and Technology. For the first time, one of the venues of the action was the RAS-supervised school - Lyceum No. 7. In addition, the city residents came to test their scientific literacy at the Siberian Federal University, “Quantorium” Children's Technopark, Nuclear Energy Information Center and school No. 144. The average adult age of the MendeleevLab was 17 years old, and the average child age was 13. At the same time, the oldest participant was 77 years old, while the youngest was 6.

“The Group of Scientific Communications of the Krasnoyarsk Science Center SB RAS has coordinated the implementation of the campaign to test scientific literacy in Krasnoyarsk since 2017. This time, the scientists of the Center were leading at four venues of the city at once. At school venues, our scientists not only told the participants what modern chemistry is, but also performed a small chemical show. We hope our efforts will enable our participants to learn more about modern science so that they have fewer myths and prejudice in their heads,” says Yegor Zadereev, coordinator of the Open Laboratory campaign in Krasnoyarsk, head of the group of scientific communications of KSC SB RAS.

A brief analysis of the results of the Chemical Laboratory held in Krasnoyarsk is presented below. All interested people can go through Laba online. The average score among the adult Laba participants from Krasnoyarsk is 20 (out of 40 maximum), and the children score is 8 (out of 15). If to look at the entire collection of questions, more than half of the participants answered correctly 22 out of 40 questions in the adult Lab and 8 out of 15 questions among children.

In the Lab for children, the easiest question was about gas which, when inhaled, makes the voice cartoonish. Perhaps, owing to their visits to the Newton Park, 90% of the young participants know that this is due to helium. In general, there were three most difficult questions for children. Only a little more than 20% of them know that (or guessed it):

- in the case of mixing alcohol and water, the volume of the mixture decreases, and the temperature rises;

- in a glass of boiling water one can dissolve 1 kilo of sugar;

- plutonium does not exist as a mineral deposit, but its chemistry is one of the most studied in the world.

In the adult Lab there were 5 sections.

In the section Renix where it was necessary to choose answers in the format “true” - “not true” the most difficult thing was to say “nonsense” about the statement “cow parsnip causes a chemical burn of the skin” (only 16% of the correct answers). By the way, this question was, in principle, the most difficult for the Krasnoyarsk residents. The easiest in this section was to answer “no” to the statement “iron is the most common element in the earth’s crust” (65% of the correct answers).

In the section "Dmitry Ivanovich and the Periodic System", the most difficult was to answer the question "What else, besides the periodic table, did Mendeleev want to find." Only 20% of the participants chose the world ether rather than vodka, aluminum or glue for suitcases, which was correct. Best of all, the participants dealt with the question about the scales presented to old Mendeleev, with their metal bowl being more expensive than gold. 64% confidently answered that it was aluminum.

In the section of chemical compounds, some questions also perplexed the participants. 64% of the participants know that taste buds of protein food respond to glutamic acid, which was the easiest to answer. The following questions were the most difficult

only 28% of the participants know that:

- one can obtain 100% alcohol by eliminating water using a desiccant,

- methane rivers flow on Titan

In the section “Identification” it was necessary to match the name of a chemical element and its use in everyday life. The easiest for the Krasnoyarsk residents was to compare tungsten and incandescent bulbs (73% of the correct answers). The most difficult was to explain the association between yttrium and superconducting cables (26% of the correct answers).

The last section, in which it was necessary to match chemical formulas and names of common household substances, did not cause difficulties. There were more than 50% of the correct answers to all the questions. The most difficult thing (however, 56% did succeed in answering correctly) was for the participants to compare gypsum and calcium sulfate dihydrite. The easiest was to say that carbonate acid gas and carbon dioxide are one and the same thing (87% of the correct answers).

“The chemical laboratory is one of the thematic tests of scientific literacy, launched after the success of the main campaign “ Open Laboratory ”, which has been held in Russia and many countries of the world for the third year already. The next campaign will be held on February 8, in honor of the day of Russian science. There, we suggest everyone to test scientific literacy in a wide range of issues, ” Egor Zadereev shares the plans for the project.