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Subject:

Eric Nelson:  

From:

CCCE ConfChem <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

CONFCHEM <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 3 May 2017 19:56:08 -0500

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To reply: https://confchem.ccce.divched.org/comment/1201#comment-1201 [1]


 

Permit me to speak in defense of the textbook publishers on the question of
applying IUPAC rules.

I was involved a few years back in writing a textbook to help introduce
students to chemistry.  When it came time to print balanced equations, my
proofreader applied what was cited as a relatively new IUPAC standard
deciding that no space should be permitted between coefficients and molecular
formulas.

I argued that the space between the coefficients and formulas be put back
in.  My argument was reading comprehension. When learners of a language are
initially taught to “decode text” (translate alphabetic words into
constituent sounds), generally instruction starts with short words that have
spaces between them, rather than starting with cyclooctatetraene. 

When students balancing an equation write Co(OH)2 .in handwriting, in my
experience it takes a while for them to learn to make some letter o cases
small and some large in a manner that lets them distinguish these cases,
especially when reading their own handwriting. while solving a problem  
Co(CH3CO2)2 can be especially troubling given how small some textbook fonts
print subscripts on print and on the screen.  . 

I personally think writing   2 Co(CH3CO2)2  instead of 2Co(CH3CO2)2  is a
bit more “student centered” for beginners who are trying to learn to
count atoms, and my co-author and publisher graciously allowed the space.

Experts read the language fluently either way, but I don’t see the downside
to putting the space after the coefficient as had long been the practice, and
I think it helps students in breaking the  terms into their constituent
parts.

In chem problems, should we adopt SI units -- and state all of our volumes in
cubic meters?

-- rick nelson

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