Attention Teachers: May 4 Webinar on Mystery of Matter Educational Materials
In a two-part webinar, producer Stephen Lyons first gives a guided tour of the Mystery of Matter: Search for the Elements website, revealing all the free educational resources developed for the three-hour, Emmy Award-winning PBS chemistry series, including a Teacher’s Guide, 60 short film clips lifted from the series, and 32 short videos comprising more than five hours of additional chemistry programming, touching on a range of topics related to the chemistry curriculum. (The Teacher’s Guide includes alignments with the NRC’s National Science Education Standards and with the Next Generation Science Standards.) Then high school chemistry & physics teacher Sue Klemmer shares ways to use the Mystery of Matter resources in self-paced and whole-class instruction to meet national and local science education standards. Hosted by the American Association of Chemistry Teachers, the one-hour webinar takes place from 7-8 pm eastern time on Thursday, May 4, 2017. You can join us live or, if you miss it, check out the archived webinar at the link below:

Mystery of Matter wins Emmy Award!

At the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences News & Documentary Awards ceremony this week in New York, Katha Seidman and Gary Henoch took home a national Emmy Award for their work on The Mystery of Matter: Search for the Elements. Katha was the production designer and Gary the directory of photography for the three-hour 2015 PBS series about the human story behind the Periodic Table. Their victory in the category of Lighting Direction and Scenic Design is a recognition of the series’ beautiful dramatic re-enactments, which chronicle a series of pivotal discoveries by scientists like Antoine Lavoisier, Dmitri Mendeleev and Marie Curie. (Katha and Gary won the same award for “Forgotten Genius,” NOVA’s 2007 biography of African American chemist Percy Julian.) While the Emmy was awarded specifically to Gary and Katha, Gary noted that “this award really belongs to the entire production team, because a successful collaboration is essential for success.” Congratulations to Katha and Gary, and thanks to all the other cast and crew members whose hard work and professionalism made this Emmy Award-winning series possible.

Welcome, Russian visitors!

In the last week, we’ve noticed a sharp uptick in the number of visitors to our blog from Russia. There have actually been six times as many visitors from Russia as from the United States!

We’re delighted to see your interest in the blog and the Mystery of Matter project ... but also curious: What has sparked this sudden surge of interest? Can one of you let us know? You can leave a comment either here on the blog or on our Facebook page at:

Finally, we wanted to be sure you're aware there is much more Mystery of Matter content available at our website. There you’ll find (among other things) the entire PBS series playable as a series of short clips accessible from the For Teachers section of the website, plus 32 freestanding short videos on various topics in chemistry – including several on Dmitri Mendeleev. Please visit the website and let us know what you think of these pieces, with a comment here on the blog or on our Facebook page.

You’ll find the website at:

Mystery of Matter Video Library Now Open!

The Mystery of Matter Video Library is a collection of freestanding videos about different aspects of the story of the search for the elements. The videos, most of them 4-12 minutes long, draw on the interviews, re-enactments, animations and photographs we shot and collected for the PBS series, with supplementary animations and images as needed. When complete, the library will include 36 videos comprising about six hours of additional chemistry programming beyond the broadcast series. There will be 24 “teacher videos” covering key chemical concepts like the Periodic Table, the structure of the atom and the Conservation of Matter in more detail than we had time for in the TV series. The remaining 12 videos will be “general interest” pieces that do not address key chemistry concepts but may still be of interest to teachers of chemistry (and other subjects), because they show chemistry at work in social and historical context. To access the Video Library, go to our website at and click on For Teachers. About a dozen of the videos are still in production, so check back each week for the latest videos to be added to the library.

Mystery of Matter Clip Collection Now Available!

For teachers whose schedules are too full to fit in video segments of 20 minutes or more, the Mystery of Matter Clip Collection offers the entire PBS series in bite-size pieces of 1-4 minutes each. If you want your students to watch just a short video on the noble gases ... or the discovery of the nucleus ... or the Conservation of Matter (to name just three examples), this section of the website is ideal for you. For each of the six major sections of the series, there’s a one-page summary with about ten chapters. Teachers and students may instantly watch the clip that interests them simply by clicking on the chapter heading. To access the Clip Collection, go to our website at and click on For Teachers. And let us know what you think!


Many of you have asked. Now we can answer: The Mystery of Matter Teacher's Guide is now up at our website at the link below.

Developed by the Education Development Center, the guide is designed to help teachers make use of the three-hour PBS series in the high school science classroom. (Middle school and college teachers may find it useful too.) For each of the series' six major sections, the Teacher’s Guide includes a full script, annotated with: Stop & Think Questions for teachers to pose to their students; sidebars on Everyday Applications of the chemistry being covered; Notes from the Field with examples of ways to incorporate the program into your teaching; and Margin Notes showing where in each section chemistry concepts are explored.

The guide also includes a Glossary of chemical terms, a list of web-based and hands-on Activity Ideas for students; a list of Web Resources for learning more, and alignments with both the National Research Council’s National Science Education Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Please try it out -- and let us know what you think!
Remembering Oliver Sacks

The Periodic Table lost its greatest champion recently when Oliver Sacks died of cancer at age 82. For his legions of fans, we've put together a brief video remembrance, drawn from the 2012 interview he recorded for The Mystery of Matter. To watch it, go to our website at And let us know what you think.