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If you believed the Wicked Witch of the West when she said, “I’m melting! I’m melting!” Al Hazari is here to set you straight.

“The witch in the ‘Wizard of Oz’ did not melt, she dissolved. You need heat for something to melt.” This is an example of the common misconceptions Hazari, a UT Knoxville chemistry lecturer, debunks in his book, “Misconceptions in Chemistry.”

Many people, including some students and teachers, have a view of science that is wrought with misconceptions and misunderstandings about the world around us, Hazari said. “Misconceptions in Chemistry” is designed to set the record straight.

Hazari, winner of the 2000 Helen M. Free Award for Public Outreach from the American Chemical Society, co-wrote this volume with Hans-Dieter Barke and Sileshi Yitbarek.

“The book is a global effort,” Hazari said. Hazari is from Lebanon, Barke is from Germany and Yitbarek is from Ethiopia.

The book focuses on how teachers can recognize and change students’ preconceptions. It suggests many experiments that can help students understand concepts and enjoy learning the truth about how things work.

“I am visual and I like connections,” Hazari said. “The way I teach is to connect things to real life. This is the only way to remember it. I am a hands-on person.”

The book serves as a guide for teachers from the elementary school level to the university level.

“It is a book for students, teachers, professors — basically all kinds of people in education,” he said.
Hazari says bad information can come from a variety of sources.

“Some misconceptions happen around people. We pick up sayings. Teachers actually share some misconceptions too,” Hazari said. “In our society, we hear things and know they are not true.”

Hazari also values his time with students and the community.

“I do a lot of chemistry outreach to the public and schools,” he said. “It’s putting a lot of chemistry to practice using everyday chemicals. I am trying to excite the students about learning and science.”

He visits schools, museums, and even assisted living centers to perform chemistry magic shows. During Kroger Science Week, he also sets up a table and does science experiments.

“Science is everywhere, even at your grocery store,” he said.

As the director of undergraduate chemistry labs and a lecturer, Hazari said it is important to him that students in labs learn, have fun and do lab work safely. Hazari also teaches a course for non-science majors to help them use science in their everyday lives and become more science literate.

“A science-literate person is someone that enjoys reading about science, can understand things and use the scientific method,” he said. “They use the methods of science to solve everyday problems.”