Established on 31 March, 1977, by a group of tertiary and secondary educators, the Chemistry Education Association (CEA) works to promote and assist teachers of Chemistry in the development of their teaching skills and writes and publishes educational material to fund this goal. A committee of five trustees - three secondary and two tertiary teachers - manages the business of CEA. Membership of the Association is open to all interested persons. The CEA was incorporated in 1987.
Funding to back the CEA's first major publication came from the generosity of the writers an earlier publication, Chemistry: A Structural View (CSV), who made available their accumulated royalties to the CEA. Published to meet the needs of the Victorian education system in 1965, CSV was the first example of the capacity of Victorian Chemistry educators to produce good texts for their pupils. By the 1970s, increased enrolment and the more diverse needs of secondary school students generated a need for a new secondary school text. It was the public identification of this need at a 1975 meeting of the Science Teachers' Association of Victoria (STAV) which prompted the formation of CEA to meet the challenge. CSV had enjoyed international acceptance and this probably added further confidence of some of its writers to embark on the new Victorian text, Chemistry: Key to the Earth (CKE).
Published in 1979 after testing in a pilot edition affectionately called 'the Telephone Book', CKE ran to two editions and approaching 40,000 sales. Accompanied by practical manuals and teachers' guides, the full project involved additional writers beyond the authors of the original book. Indicative of the co-operation and interaction of the times, the Education Department made available the full time services of one of its teachers.
By the mid 1980s, CEA responded to the responsibilities of managing accumulated royalties by subsidising chemistry related conferences, lectures, visiting speakers and offering scholarships and prizes. STAV was usually the mediator in these arrangements. But it was realised that to continue to introduce new texts, the trustees had to be able to meet considerable up front fees and hence manage their funds prudently. The cycle time for new texts appears to be about ten years, and with the introduction of the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) in the late 1980s, it was time to get to work again.
For the new VCE, two texts and resource books were needed for Year 11 and Year 12, and breaking with tradition, the CEA decided to work with Heinemann Education Australia rather than Melbourne University Press. Six main writers were involved, and this time CEA subsidised the salary of a liaison officer with the Department of Education. Both texts became available in 1991, Chemistry One selling 16,000 copies in its first year. By 1998, work was in hand for a third edition of Chemistry One and Chemistry Two.
With the implementation of a new Chemistry course for Years 11 and 12 in 2007-2008, new teams of writers were formed and the fourth editions of Chemistry One and Chemistry Two were produced.
For some years, CEA has offered grants for people to attend chemistry conferences, subsidised in-service courses for Chemistry teachers, conferences and functions, pupil remedial courses and liaison with parallel organisation such as the STAV and the Royal Australian Chemical Institute. CEA continues to search for appropriate ways of meeting its prime aim.