I have taught for almost 30 years and have attended my fair share of professional development. Many of these have been very good (ChemEd, BCCE, ACS, NSTA, and ICE) but nothing has been as motivating, influential, and beneficial to my career as getting involved in the Chemistry Olympiad. Every year, the ACS sponsors a local section contest for high school students.
Science is creative; it requires new ideas, new patterns, and new solutions to old problems. A deep understanding of the periodic table is the most critical knowledge in chemistry. I want my students to experience the table and conceptualize its trends in a deeper way. Combining creative ideas from an AP Lit project with my honors chemistry content, I am brainstorming about a more engaging, more challenging summative assessment on periodic table families. I would love to hear your ideas and collaborate to build an exciting assessment.
The juice from an orange peel causes a balloon to pop. When I first saw this effect I immediately thought to myself, “what is the chemistry involved in this experiment?” After quickly searching the web, I found several claims that a compound in orange peels called limonene (Figure 1) is responsible for this effect. Limonene is a hydrocarbon, which means that molecules of limonene are composed of only carbon and hydrogen atoms. Limonene is responsible for the wonderful smell of oranges, and it is a liquid at room temperature.
With spring just around the corner and warmer weather approaching, I find that I’m in active summer preparation mode. This is the time of year when I’m trying to plan for the perfect summer balance between professional development and relaxation – both professional growth experiences in my book!
Labs! They have been the most overwhelming part of my career in chemistry. I felt the least prepared in this area when I began teaching and walked into my first lab as a teacher. Knowing all of the chemicals and equipment were under my care was a bit terrifying.
In this age of scientific inquiry, molecular modeling, digital classrooms, and differentiation, I felt downright guilty about any teacher-centered time. My classroom is flipped after all. I’m not supposed to be lecturing, right?