BEFORE YOU BEGIN
You are one of the very luckiest of people-to be growing up in the Age of Science. For a long while, boys and girls used to say, "I wish I were a pioneer," or "I wish there were something left to discover."
Nowadays, it is perfectly clear that science offers a great variety of new things to discover and that many of the new pioneers will be scientists. Physical science is the study of matter and energy.
Chemistry is one of the physical sciences.' It teaches us much about the different kinds of matter and how they behave. It teaches how different chemicals react with each other, so that you can tell in advance what will happen when you mix certain chemicals together.
This knowledge has helped chemists decide what fuels to use to propel rockets and push satellites into space. But you cannot work with nuclear reactors or rocket fuels until you first learn the fundamental facts of chemistry.
This book will help you to do just that. Remember that you didn't learn to roller-skate, or to ride a bicycle, until you could balance yourself on your feet. You cannot devise new chemical reactions until you can balance chemical equations. It's fun to mix things in a laboratory and to guess or predict the results. You may not always be correct in your predictions, nor will you always be correct in your mixing, but it will always be fun to account for every single atom involved in a chemical reaction. You will learn how to do this gradually, as you do the experiments in this book. You must remember to follow the safety rules, to be neat and careful, to avoid contaminating your chemicals, and to be especially conscientious about reporting observations accurately.
A true scientist would never put away a dirty test tube or falsify a report. In this book you will learn the language of chemistry and find that it is not a bit mysterious, but simple and interesting to use. And when you read science articles in newspapers and magazines you will surprise yourself by understanding them so well.
If you enjoy this work and do it well, you will probably continue it; then maybe someday you will make a great discovery that will broaden the horizons of science. Before doing any experiment in this book, you should always read the instructions through for that experiment. Then you will know before you begin what equipment and chemicals you will need, and you will have an idea in advance of the procedures you are supposed to follow.
There will undoubtedly be chemicals that you have never heard of mentioned in the experiments. Look them up in the chart beginning on page 17, and you will find that many are ordinary household substances that you or your parents use nearly every day.
It is up to you to decide whether you want to read the section entitled "Results" before or after doing an experiment.
Of course, there would be more suspense if you wait until afterward to read it and see if you actually have observed what it says, but the choice really depends on your own work habits. Much exciting knowledge awaits you as you prepare to explore the world of chemistry.