The ACS Committee on Chemical Safety has published new Guidelines for Chemical Laboratory Safety in Secondary Schools. This document is organized with the R.A.M.P. concept – Recognize the hazard, Assess the risk of the hazard, Minimize the risk of the hazard, and Prepare for emergencies. The online document includes two pages for each letter that could be printed and posted in the classroom to reinforce these principles of safety. The documents are provided to strengthen the safety practices of teachers and help them to promote a culture of safety that their students will take with them throughout their academic and professional careers.
This week I had the opportunity to attend part 2 of a 3 day PD for Gizmos, courtesy of a district grant working with ExploreLearning. In a room full of middle school science colleagues (half of whom I knew), I was able to glean a ton of great information.
In July of 2016 we learned the names of the four new elements that were confirmed in January; Nihonium (Nh), moscovium (Mc), tennessine (Ts) and oganesson (Og). Although the newest superheavy elements complete the seventh period of the Periodic Table, curiosity has been reignited in our classrooms as students ask, what’s next?
Most chemistry teachers I know do flame tests with their students. It ties in well with many topics, is colorful and the kids enjoy seeing the colors and burning stuff. There are many applications. For years I always mentioned that astronomers use the idea of the flame test. They simply look at stars and examine the spectra from the light of these stars. They then match the spectra with the elements and then they can see and infer what elements are millions of light years away. I always mentioned this but never was able to demonstrate it.
There has been considerable discussion lately of standard based teaching. Essentially, a teacher has a set of standards and they teach to these standards. The idea is that instead of saying "Hey, you got a C on this test, time to move on..." a teacher would say "This is the standard...you can exceed it, meet it or you can approach it...the goal is to meet or exceed the standard and if you do not, keep trying." Here is an example...we were covering gas laws in my class. I asked seven questions about conceptual ideas concerning gas laws.
One of the resources we have vetted is an interactive slideshow from PBS on both ionic and covalent bonds. Teachers using Modeling Instruction will find these resources elucidate a model of electron behavior which adds to the particle story of matter we have been telling throughout the year.
I first stumbled upon Atomsmith at Chem Ed 2015. Totally loved the way you could pop up a number of molecules on the big screen and move them around. They had really cool stuff like showing and modeling phase changes with water. They demonstrated the ability to show quantum orbitals in which you can see all of the clouds combined and then separate the electron clouds into individual orbitals. I was all set to jump in feet first and then my heart sank...they had it on everything but chromebooks (which is what we use at my school). The presenter suggested that I contact the good people at Atomsmith. They have been working on an online version that runs on chromebooks.
This week I did "The Murky Myster of Matter Measurement" by Chad Bridle. Basically, students are working at making a series of predictions and measurements concerning the mass, volume and ultimately density of two different types of beads.
Over the past few years puzzle apps have been a favorite amongst high school students. Although each vary in degree of difficulty, most involve recognizing patterns in order to advance to the next phase of the game.
Helping students to interpret graphs and analyze them is an important for many reasons. Spending time training students to do just that will help them to become critical thinkers.