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College Chemistry Presentation Topics

written by: Laura Wise•edited by: Amanda Grove•updated: 9/24/2011

Do you have a chemistry presentation to give, but no idea where to start? This article provides useful information for pre-planning and brainstorming stages to help!

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    Chemistry topics for college course presentations can be tricky to plan, choose and implement. However, if one takes a step back and applies critical and analytical thinking skills, chemistry presentations become a little more fun and a little less stressful.

    Before getting started, the student should find out the following from the professor, course syllabus, or class assignment sheet/rubric:

    • How long must the presentation be?
    • Is it a group presentation or an individual presentation?
    • Are students supposed to pick from a list or are any topics possible?
    • What are the due date and turn-in requirements?
    • Are you allowed to use outside sources or only course material?
    • How many sources are you required to have?

    Next, you should find out if it is acceptable to practice a presentation with a college tutor or make an appointment with the professor or TA to work on an outline. If so, make those appointments and hold yourself to deadlines! The project might be due in a month --- but that doesn't mean you can forget about it until the week before. The first step to successful presentations is to plan ahead and budget time accordingly. Most importantly, don't be embarrassed to ask your professor, TA, or fellow students for help if you feel lost!

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    Planning a College Presentation for a Chemistry Class

    The next step is to identify and overcome your obstacles. Are you clueless on what to present about? Have you never presented publicly before? Both of these issues can be dealt with --- so take a deep breath and head onto the tutoring center, the library, or your desk to work.

    What topics have you discussed in class, with your friends, in your textbook and/or in any course videos? What interested you? What did you want to learn more about? Usually, an assigned presentation serves you best if you explore your personal interests or independently pursue topics that you wanted to learn more about but that the professor will not be covering.

    But what if you have no interest in chemistry? Perhaps the course is required for your major, or maybe you had to take a science class that fit your schedule and fulfilled general education/core requirements. Regardless of whether or not you enjoy or are interested in chemistry, you can still give a good presentation.

    Here is a list that will help you brainstorm some ideas for chemistry presentation topics:

    • Look for famous chemists and present on one or more of them. Talk about their life, their work, how they got into the field of science and their important discoveries and innovations. For ideas on specific chemists, consult your textbook. Who sounds interesting?
    • Choose a chemistry concept --- an element, the periodic table, valence shells, acids/bases --- and take an in-depth look at their importance to everyday life. Alternately, present on how these aspects of science can be taught to youngsters.
    • Speaking of chemistry in everyday life, you could focus specifically on household chemicals which we use daily. Chemical processes also help us in making both utilitarian and art items --- for instance, stained glass.
    • What about chemistry in pop culture? A unique presentation might cover urban legends or myths related to chemistry.
    • Examine the relations and interconnections of chemistry with other disciplines --- biochemistry, environmental chemistry, geochemistry, pharmaceuticals, engineering, forensics, chemistry in archaeology, etc.
    • Perhaps you are interested in famous chemists, but don't want to limit yourself to one person. You could present instead on historic moments in chemistry.
    • Report on famous companies which employ chemists, including governmental groups and agencies chemists join or work for. What do chemists do after college, anyway?
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    Any additional ideas come to mind? Make a list and head to the library or to the computer to research before you forget!

    If you still feel uncomfortable with your topic or the research process at this stage, feel free to meet with a tutor or reference librarian. Don't let too much time pass between receiving the rubric and coming up with a topic. Otherwise, other classmates may get your choice topic approved first, or you may not be able to check out the library books you need because someone else got them!

    However, you also want to avoid getting too far into the research before getting your professor's approval of the topic. If s/he doesn't approve your topic, any research or work you've already done will have gone to waste. Instead of diving in right away, do some preliminary research --- gauge whether your topic is too narrow or too broad based on your assignment parameters. This will also give you an idea of the literature written on your topic and the sources you will use to satisfy the academic component of your presentation.

    If you're still lost for chemistry topic ideas for college course presentations, you could always check out science museums, high school science fair competition topics and textbooks for inspiration. For more on giving college presentations, feel free to consult a tutor or a speech communication textbook. Additionally, for more on how to incorporate technology into a presentation, feel free to ask a tutor or a computer consultant on your campus or in the campus library.

References

  • Journal of Chemical Education. "JCE Online: Biographical Snapshots of Famous Women and Minority Chemists." July 2005. http://jchemed.chem.wisc.edu/JCEWWW/Features/eChemists/index.php
  • "100 European Chemists." European Association for Chemical and Molecular Sciences. http://www.euchems.eu/
  • Nobel Foundation. "The Nobel Prize in Chemistry." http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/chemistry/
  • "Biographies of Famous Chemists." The Nobel Foundation. http://www.liv.ac.uk/Chemistry/Links/refbiog.html