misconceptions/discrepant events

Break the Ice with Mystery Blocks

In an effort to align my lessons with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), I have tried to take the content I have traditionally taught, and shift the design to focus on student engagement with the science and engineering practices outlined in the standards. For the topic of heat transfer I re-packaged the ice melting blocks discrepant event as a NGSS investigative phenomena.

JCE 94.12 December 2017 Issue Highlights

The December 2017 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: functional nanomaterials and chemical detection; improving student performance; peer-led instruction; simulations and computer-based learning; engaging and interactive instruction; synthesis laboratories; NMR spectroscopy and mass spectrometry; innovative physical chemistry investigations; ConfChem Conference on select 2016 BCCE presentations; from the archives: music and chemistry.

A Concise Summary of Chemical Misconceptions

Beyond Appearances: Students’ Misconceptions about Basic Chemical Ideas on the Royal Society of Chemistry’s website has proven a wonderfully handy document to have around. The report is the work of Dr. Vanessa Kind of Durham University (formerly of The University of London) and briefly summarizes student misconceptions and possible pedagogical remedies in eleven different content areas.

Measuring Activity

I want to share a measuring activity for you to consider. First, start with two baseballs. The first baseball is a regular baseball. The other baseball is called a ". Next, get six to eight students to volunteer. Without talking at all the students must hold the normal baseball and the small ball. They then must decide if the normal ball has more, less or the same mass as the small ball.

Modeling the Concept of Ionic Bonding

When describing abstract concepts like chemical bonding, it always seems to feel far too easy for both teachers and students to resort to the “wants” and “needs” of atoms. After all, we understand what it means to want, need, or like something, so it often feels appropriate (and easier) to use a relatable metaphor or subtly anthropomorphize these atoms to accommodate our students’ current reasoning abilities. While predicting the types of bonds that will form and the general idea behind how atoms bond can be answered correctly using such relatable phrases or ideas, the elephant in the room still in remains—do our students really understand why these atoms bond? 

Demonstration: Reaction of Magnesium and Silver Nitrate

I found a version of this demonstration online a couple of years ago. I admit, when I first tried it with my class it was mostly for a crowd pleaser to demonstrate the activity series of metals, but I then became very intrigued by the processes occurring. The original source only referenced the “single replacement reaction” between Mg(s) and AgNO3(aq). Therefore, when I saw a grayish product (silver) I was not surprised. However, I was surprised by the white flash and the production of a white product, which were reminiscent of the classic combustion of magnesium demonstration. This led to some research and my conclusions that follow. Read through to the end and you will find a video of the demo.