Experience

Dingle has found the right chemistry

Jan Garrison
 

New book coming in 2021

 

March 18, 2021

Culver Academies chemistry instructor Adrian Dingle is the author of a new book coming out in 2021, “Awesome Chemistry Experiments for Kids.” Targeted for middle school age students, the book is part of a series that his publisher has put together.

For Dingle, writing about chemistry – from upper high school and first-year collegiate levels to middle school – “is something I’ve done all my professional life.” Now in his 31st year of teaching, Dingle is in the middle of his third year at Culver. He teaches AP Chemistry, Chemistry I, and an elective course he designed, Organic Chemistry.

But his teaching doesn’t stop in the classroom. He has a website called Adrian Dingle’s Chemistry Pages, which goes back to 1998. It started with Dingle publishing his set of A Level Chemistry notes online while teaching in London. He was growing tired of make several copies each year for his students, so he decided to publish them online and made the students responsible for accessing the material as needed.

Now he updates the website almost daily and writes a blog covering science and educational issues.

In 2006, he was approached to write “The Periodic Table: Elements with Style!” It is part of the Basher series of books covering science and technology for younger students. Simon Basher is an English artist and illustrator who was looking for someone to help him with the words. An interested publisher contacted Dingle, who took on the challenge.

“I rode on his coattails,” Dingle said of Basher’s illustrations. “That kicked it all off.”

Writing for a younger audience wasn’t easy, he explained. “It was work. It was a different kind of work, but it was still work.” And he is glad that he had a deadline to meet because it may not have gotten done otherwise.

The book originally didn’t cover the entire periodic table as the publisher wanted to limit the number of pages. Of course, as the author, Dingle took the heat for those missing elements. But the book has done so well that it recently was expanded and updated, he added.

Adrian Dingle

 

That has led to other books geared for the younger audience and some written for older students, including studying for AP Chemistry exams and other upper level courses. He strictly stays in the chemistry lane on all his books and freelance articles.

The books have been translated to several languages and garnered critical acclaim. Awards have included the School Library Association Information Book of the Year Award in the United Kingdom, the Wissenchaftsbuch des Jahre (with fellow winner Bill Bryson), a literary prize of Austria awarded by the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the American Institute of Physics Science Communication Award.

Dingle originally started teaching in London in 1990. In 2000, he moved to the United States and taught at The Westminster Schools in Atlanta until 2018. That is when he made the move to Culver that August.

Taking that first year to meet everyone and get a feel for the school, Dingle said he was just hitting his stride when the COVID-19 pandemic sent everyone home and all classes went virtual. His first opportunity to teach the new Organic Chemistry class had to be done online. With some students still in the Asia/Pacific region, the class has now become a hybrid.

“It is an odd way to get acclimated,” he smiled.

If you are wandering how Dingle maintains this pace after 31 years, all you have to do is read this note from Tom, written in November 2019, that is on his website:

“Dear Adrian, Today is my birthday. My eighteenth birthday. This feels like a good excuse to write to you – I’ve been meaning to write for a couple years, to thank you for your writing. Eight years ago, aged 10, after forgetting to pack my miniature painting set when I went on holiday, my mum bought me a book to cheer me up. I read your book ‘How to Make a Universe with 92 Ingredients’ at least three times that fortnight, cover-to-cover, and I was hooked by the chemistry, fascinated by the unseen world that I could explore."

"Inspired by your book, I would steal my brother’s textbooks to read at night, set up the family camera to film my own chemistry videos, and – most importantly – I started experimenting at home. I took my Chemistry GCSE (I live in the UK) aged twelve, four years early. I was the youngest student in the country to get a GCSE A* in 2014 in any subject. Now 18, I’m taking the International Baccalaureate, studying Maths, Chemistry and Physics at higher level. I’m applying to study Natural Sciences (Physical) at Cambridge University.” 

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