February 2018 Xchange

Dear ChemEd X Community,

Have you attended a BCCE (Biennial Conference on Chemical Education)? This year marks the 25th BCCE, celebrating the 50th anniversary since the first conference. The BCCE has a reputation among high school teachers for not being valuable for the secondary crowd. As a new teacher 20+ years ago, I was told by my mentors that ChemEd was for me, but BCCE was just for college instructors. I think that reputation only exists among teachers that have not attended one in the past decade. I attended my first BCCE in 2010 and have never been disappointed. There are many high school educators that are working to develop even more symposia and opportunities for the precollege crowd. This conference provides a fantastic venue to share and learn with other passionate chemical educators. Besides improving your craft, you will find friends across the country and maybe even outside of the states that will re-energize your career. Visit the website for details. Registration, lodgiing and other details continue to be updated.

I also highly recommend taking the opportunity to present at the conference. Presentations are 20 minutes. There are over 100 symposiums to consider submitting an abstract for. See the page for more details. Scroll to the bottom of that page to find the link to the ACS abstract system. The abstract submission deadline is February 20th, so time is short. 

If we can support you in any way, I hope you will feel free to contact us through the ChemEd X  and let us know.       

Deanna Cullen



The author discusses some common problems and misconceptions surrounding displacement reactions involving aluminum metal. He outlines a demonstration intended to support teachers to help their students understan this sometimes confusing topic. 


How do scientists find the mass of individual elements and isotopes of those elements? This classroom demonstration uses a model of a mass spectrometer. Students watch the demonstration and try to reason through what they see before they are allowed to see all of the parts of the model.


Dr. John Lienhard, now an Emeritus Professor of Mechanical Engineering and History at the University of Houston has a radio program, The Engines of our Ingenuity, has aired daily since 1988 and, as he says in his signature signoff, concerns itself with “the way inventive minds work.” The radio program broadly discusses various aspects of human invention. Episodes touch on everything from engineering, physics, and chemistry to philosophy, literature, and the arts.


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


A simple laboratory experiment in which students simply measure the wavelength of light is described. An LED light, diffraction glasses, and a meterstick are the only required materials.


The 2018 conference will be held at Notre Dame in South Bend, IN, July 29 - August 3. There is excellent programming available for middle school science teachers, high school chemistry teachers, graduate students and college faculty.


Mary Saecker, managing editor of the Journal of Chemical Education, regularly highlights the monthly issue of JCE. She not only outlines the topics and articles published in the current issue, but she also curates previously published manuscripts from the archives that lend themselves to the theme.


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