I came across a simple, yet interesting experiment that was first described by Elizabeth Sumner Walter in 2001. She merely had students pour water into a dish containing some Gobstoppers candies. I showed this experiment to some of my college chemistry students while they were working on a different laboratory experiment.
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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.
Peter Hoffman is a physicist and materials scientist, and he brings those perspectives and sensibilities to the description of how life converts chemical energy into order and motion. The "Ratchet" in the title is Feynman's Ratchet, a gedanken experiment described in Feynman's "Lectures on Physics" and reminiscent of Maxwell's Demon.
Celebrate Earth Day, which is on Monday, April 22, 2013. Earth Day was first officially recognized on April 22, 1970. This year the theme is "Our Earth: Handle with Care." The topics this year include water, air, plants/soil, and recycling.
If you haven't seen them yet, check out the final release of the Next Generation Science Standards. There is helpful information at the site. My home state of Michigan is currently asking for public input in order to plan support for implementing NGSS.
Whether it is a completely unique idea or just a twist on an old classic, engage in collaboration with other chemistry teachers around the world and publish your work. There are many venues and the pool of precollege chemistry instructors that are already contributing is relatively small.
Moving from the computer lab to iPad? Then you need some apps. I have found two free apps that I use to replace computer-based gas laws simulations.