inquiry-based discovery learning

Scrub Daddy Science

The science behind the incredibly popular Scrub Daddy sponge is investigated. Part of the appeal of the Scrub Daddy sponge is that it changes from soft to hard depending upon temperature. This allows a single sponge to be transformed into a hard scrubber or soft sponge, depending upon the temperature of water into which it is placed.

The Density Bottle Strikes Again

Density Bottles can be used to teach a variety of chemical concepts such as density, solubility, and polarity. In this post it is shown that Density Bottles can also be used to differentiate between heterogeneous and homogeneous mixtures, and to explore light scattering.    

That’s What Scientists Do!

As I began to prepare my labs for this upcoming year, I decided to put a bit of a twist on a previous density of a block lab I had used in the past entitled the Measurement Challenge that is sold by Flinn Scientific. It can also be used to find the mass of a block given the materials density and requiring students to measure and calculate the blocks volume. My added twist resulted in great scientific discourse. 

Stop trying to get your students interested in chemistry!

Because my teaching philosophy assumes that both quality and quantity of learning increases with interest in subject matter, I have spent years exploring ways to engage my students in chemistry (of course fire, explosions, and color changing reactions are certainly helpful). I have recently begun using an approach that I have found to be quite fruitful, albeit counterintuitive: I don’t try to get my students interested in chemistry. You read that right. I don’t try to interest my students in chemistry. Rather, I get to know the hobbies and interests of my students. Then I work to demonstrate how chemistry relates to those activities.

This post was submitted for the 2017 ChemEd X Call for Contributions: Creating a Classroom Culture.

Building a Blended Culture in a Secondary Science Classroom

During my first year of teaching (in Indianapolis, IN), I was inspired by some research I had read as well as some other teachers in the Indy area who were flipping their classes. I was at a small parochial school where parental and administrative support for technology inclusion was present. My principal outfitted me with the tools I needed to “flip” my classes and record tutorial videos. Things went pretty well. It was a learning curve for many but I also had good feedback from students and parents.

This post was submitted for the 2017 ChemEd X Call for Contributions: Creating a Classroom Culture.

Classroom Culture - Experiment on Day 1

What is the very first impression that I want to make on students? Do I want to pass out a bunch of papers about the syllabus, rules and policies? Do I want kids to be thinking and acting like scientists? Deep down inside, my hope is always for the second idea. I decided to steal an idea I got from master chemistry teacher Linda Ford at an local ACS meeting. Linda introduced a group of teachers to the "Miracle Fortune Teller Fish".

This post was submitted for the 2017 ChemEd X Call for Contributions: Creating a Classroom Culture.

Building Buy-In Through a Growth Mindset Classroom Culture

When you incorporate non-traditional pedagogies and grading systems into your classroom like Modeling Instruction and standards-based grading, you need to be concerned about buy-in from students and parents. Implementation without buy-in leads to frustrated students, parents and most of all teachers. I have saved myself from this frustration by establishing a growth-mindset classroom culture from day one. Here are my tips for building a classroom where students feel comfortable to fail.

Editors Note: This post was submitted for the 2017 ChemEd X Call for Contributions: Creating a Classroom Culture.