I am a very firm believer that the world of physical science can be visualized and is an excellent medium for teaching students to model and to picture what happens at the molecular level. The first topic we decided to explore was balancing chemical equations. This seems like such a simple topic to chemistry teachers but I have found that it can be quite challenging for many of my inner city students. The first thing they ask me for is a list of rules that they can follow. We can discuss the problems of algorithmic teaching in a later post! For the time being let’s talk about how to get students to understand why they need to balance equations and discuss what we can call “Conservation of Atoms”.
One of my biggest struggles with students is to try to explain what happens when items, specific inorganic salts, dissolve in water. It might sound simple to me and you. Research shows that students have many real misconceptions when it comes to explaining inorganic salts dissolving in water. My own experience along with other teachers I know is that we are amazed and sometimes frustrated with trying to help students understand the simple process of dissolving, especially with ions. A key piece of equipment is a good conductivity tester. Just got done making a stack of them and can't wait to have students try them. But back to "dissolving"....
Back to school time means back to lab time too. Students new to chemistry have a lot on their plates the first few labs—learning unfamiliar safety procedures, becoming accustomed to writing lab reports, even figuring out which glassware they’re looking for in their lab space. How can teachers help them to navigate this newness? Two articles in the July 2016 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education are useful resources for “back to lab” time.
This past week, as part of our Thermochemistry unit, my students were completing one of my favorite Target Inquiry Labs entitled “ A Very Cool Investigation”. We were using calorimeters, dissolving ammonium nitrate, and my students were recording the change in temp
For my students and me, the AP Chemistry exam does not mark the end of the school year. Once the AP exam is over, my students are exhausted but our class continues to meet for three more weeks. Each year we complete a qualitative analysis lab, but this year we finished earlier than I anticipated. For the first time all year, I have the luxury of time.
I have been on a mission lately to make scientists out of my students. I am long past my fears that they are not capable of discovering the world for themselves or that they won’t learn the content if we spend too much time on science practices. What I have to work on now is orchestrating the experience. The pedagogy underlying Modeling Instruction has become the backbone for much of my instruction lately. This method of instruction not only gives my students an engaging, authentic scientific experience but has resulted in deeper content knowledge.
Learn a simple and very inexpensive way to build and use an "absorption spectrometer" using a smartphone. This is a great way to implement Beer's Law experiments in your classroom!
Revisiting this post from March 2016 - Lowell Thomson describes a process he uses for providing specific lab report feedback using an online Comment Bank.
Each spring my Local Section of The American Chemical Society (ACS) hosts a rigorous two part exam as part of the selection process for the The International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO). The lab practicals on the exams are presented as problems. No procedure is given. Students must use their chemistry knowledge and lab experience to devise a plan and solve the problem. The best part is that the released exams come with lists of materials and equipment, helpful hints to the proctors, and solutions! This is a great source for Inquiry-Based Lab Practicals.
Flinn Scientific has a great elearning video series. Many of the videos have master teachers demonstrating some great labs and techniques that they do in the classroom.