high school chemistry

A Post-Inquiry Activity: A Tiered Significant Figures Lesson

sig figs

Historically, my students report significant figures as one of the most confusing concepts in honors chemistry. My recent blog post described the process of transforming my introduction into an inquiry activity. I’ve also re-worked my practice activities to be more directed to specific student needs, more focused on spending time with small groups, and more dedicated to active learning. This four step tiered plan works for me.

A “Buzzing” Introduction to Significant Figures


Education “buzz words” can be meaningless jargon, or they can challenge us to consider new approaches to teaching and learning. Don’t let the jargon be a buzz kill!

“Significant figures are so confusing,” says my former student, who is currently taking AP Chemistry. My PowerPoint lecture with lab to follow didn’t work. Convicted, I wrestled with transforming my tired lesson. I embraced the buzz words. Let’s look at a significant figures lesson that changed my compliant, quiet learners to ENGAGED COLLABORATORS.

How I Obtained Lab Equipment - Hach Grant

Chemistry teachers face many challenges. One of those challenges is providing our students with the equipment and resources they need to be successful. Many teachers find themselves in schools that cannot afford to properly outfit their chemistry courses. That is exactly the situation I found myself in as a new teacher.

Chemical Mystery #4: The Case of the Misbehaving Balloon

Conducting experiments with liquid nitrogen experiments is a sure-fire way to energize many chemistry lessons. Unfortunately, getting access to liquid nitrogen can be a bit difficult. I happen to purchase liquid nitrogen from Airgas; you might be able to find a branch near you here.

A Chemist Celebrates the International Year of Light

How to make a better glow stick

Happy New Year!  Did you know that 2015 is the International Year of Light (IYL)? IYL is a “global initiative adopted by the United Nations to raise awareness of how optical technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to worldwide challenges in energy, education, agriculture, communications and health1”.  IYL is sponsored by several organizations with interests in science and science education, including the European Physical Society, the Institute of Physics, the American Physical Society, and the American Institute of Physics.  You can find several lesson plans, videos and other educational resources on the IYL website2.