Discovering Science: Chemical Products

FutureLearn Discovering Science: Chemical Products

University of Leeds
5 hours/week
2 weeks
Paid Certificate Available
Part of
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For centuries natural materials have been used by people to meet their daily needs. Discover how scientists are using their knowledge of the molecular structure of naturally occurring compounds to develop new and exciting materials. From clothing to tooth enamel, the possibilities are endless. You’ll also consider the chemistry behind the development of everyday consumer, and consider the ethics behind the products you use.

The course is suitable for anyone with a general interest in chemistry; no previous knowledge or experience is required.

If you are working in the field of science and would like to practice and improve your science writing skills, this course is designed to support you as a professional. By completing all aspects of the course you will have achieved 14 hours of CPD time.

If you intend to complete the Discovering Science program, it is recommended that you complete Discovering Science: Science Writing before starting this course, however this course can still be studied independently.

What topics will you cover?
  • Everyday biomaterials and their molecular properties.
  • The molecular structure of wool and silk and how this has developed over the last century.
  • The influence of natural materials on the development of man-made fibres.
  • The potential uses of self-assembling peptides within the human body.
  • The creation of hydrogels from self-assembling peptides.
  • The development of synthetic spider silk.
  • The future of bio-inspired materials.
  • The creation of composite biomaterials that combine organic and inorganic components.
  • Assignment: prepare a press release to communicate the science of ‘composite bio-inspired materials’.
  • The science and environmental impact of everyday household products.
  • The evolution of effective, safe and economical products.
  • The use of surfactants in household products.
  • The chemistry of hair dyes and how they are tested and regulated.
  • The significance of the chemical industry.
  • The complexity between scientific fact and public perception of consumer products.
  • Parabens and the controversy that surrounds their use as preservatives.
  • Construct a science writing text.
  • Assignment: prepare a newspaper article about the controversy around the use of parabens.

Taught by
Paul Taylor
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