I attended and presented at the National AP Conference in Las Vegas on July 18th and 19th! Adding Inquiry to the course is one of the major changes to how we will teach AP Chemistry. I shared some resources and gave tips during my presentation. I am sharing those resource in this post. I am also sharing items that I found especially helpful from presentations that I attended and conversations I had with other teachers.
Inquiry is a fluid concept. There are some truly fabulous activities on Grand Valley State University's Target Inquiry (TI) website (www.gvsu.edu/targetinquiry). Yes, I am biased as I was part of the first TI cohort, but there are several labs now that were written later and they, too, are terrific.
At NSTA (in beautiful San Antonio, Texas), this past week, I shared activities designed to explore three levels of representation AND provide formative assessment techniques to reveal student misconceptions. All of the activities shared have been featured in the Journal of Chemical Education or have been linked to research articles in JCE as supporting information.
Moles, mole ratios and stoichiometry have been frustrating topics for many of my chemistry students. The MOLE and Avogadro’s number get tangled up in other Chemistry jargon and students have stared at me like I am speaking another language. I have been around long enough to know this is a problem that many of us have faced. I have tried many ideas that have helped and I want to share a few.
Whenever possible, I try to begin a topic with something my students are familar with. For the introduction of Percent Composition in my general chemistry course, I brought in bags of Oreo cookies. Seeing the bags upon entering class was a great attention getter. If you are looking for ways to add more inquiry to your chemistry course, this a an example of how can experiment with giving up a little control. Try it and see how it goes.
I wrote the following directions on the board: Obtain an Oreo. The cookie is made up of WAFER and CREAMY FILLING. Using a balance, a plastic knife and a napkin (to keep the cookie from directly touching the balance), calculate the percent of the cookie that is made up of each part. You have 10 minutes to complete and be ready to explain the process and your answer.