“On the third day of Christmas, my mailman brought to me… three gardening catalogs.” Jumping the gun? Or marketing genius? The doldrums after the holiday were a perfect time for these pages with their promise of spring. Their arrival kicked off an evening of grand plans. Somewhere along the line, chemistry crept in.
The “bucket launch” is a fantastic experiment you can do if you have access to liquid nitrogen. Depending upon conditions, we have observed the bucket to launch anywhere from 80 to 160 feet high. See the video.
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.
Happy December ChemEdX community! On December 2, 2014 I attended the second of three workshops on NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) through our local ISD (in Kalamazoo County it is known as KRESA).
This article describes a three week lesson plan for teaching stoichiometry using an algorithmic method. Two labs (one designed as a laboratory quiz) several cooperative learning exercises, student worksheets and guided instructional frameworks (forcing students to develop good habits in writing measures and doing problem solving) are included. The highlight of the lessons is the "chemistry carol" (based on Felix Mendelssohn's music for "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing") in which students recite a five-step algorithm for completing stoichiometry problems. While algorithmic processes may not always be best, I have found that there are many benefits to giving students a firm background and something to always fall back upon in one of the more challenging topics of chemistry. I believe that the good habits developed in this method of stoichiometry carry through to all the rest of their chemistry work, making it much easier to use inquiry-based methods when doing other advanced chemistry topics.
Engaging and Sustaining Students' Interest in Chemistry
The November 2014 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is available online to subscribers at http://pubs.acs.org/toc/jceda8/91/11. The November issue content includes content on water chemistry, diversity and women in science, professional development, teaching with technology, electrochemistry, and more.
Last Thursday (11/6/14) I attended a workshop on NGSS through our local RESA (essentially an ISD for the county/region). I’d like to touch on some of the things I took away from this workshop and will post again after the next follow-up workshops in December and March.
Given the amount of one reactant, students must use stoichiometry to find the ideal amount of the second reagent to use to create purple fireworks. The teacher ignites each groups' fireworks. Ideal mixture create little or no ash. Student assignment sheet with directions (and different initial amounts) plus teacher information and sample answers are included. This is an exciting and engaging activity that can be used as a stoichiometry quiz.
With one balance per table (two groups), the calculations should take about 10 minutes, the measures another 10 minutes. Ideally, students should be prepared to deliver their mixture to the teacher within 20 minutes. In practice, many students will take longer, particularly if the formula for potassium chlorate is not given and students are not familiar enough with ionic nomenclature.
The teacher will need about one minute per group to announce the group's mixture, ignite it, and wait for student responses. So if there are 15 groups, the teacher should allow about 15 minutes to ignite all the mixtures.
Using Models for Learning Chemistry
The August 2014 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers at http://pubs.acs.org/toc/jceda8/91/8. The August issue contains content to spark thinking about models and how to foster meaningful learning in chemistry classrooms and improve student understanding.
You’ve heard the old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” How many words for a smell? A single whiff of a familiar scent can whisk me back into the past. Wash my hands with Dove soap—I find myself standing in my grandmother’s house. Walk by someone wearing Eternity cologne—I’m back in high school with an old boyfriend. Spray out a foamy mound of Barbasol shaving cream—I’m standing at an exhibit booth talking about the Journal of Chemical Education (JCE). That was a fragrant flashback moment I had last month. As I followed my nose to the past, it led me to a solution for the present.