As many school districts are moving toward incorporating student-centered curriculum and pedagogy, many teachers have found that it can be difficult to initiate a classroom culture that encourages students to embrace the change which calls for them to engage in discussions and take more responsibility for their own learning. Chemical Education Xchange (ChemEd X) is interested in learning about how teachers are creating a culture of student-centered learning in their classrooms. For this reason, we are initiating our content specific CALL FOR CONTRIBUTIONS centered on the concept of “Creating a Classroom Culture”.
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Erica Jacobsen shares highlights from the July 2017 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education that are of special interest to high school chemistry teachers.
Encouraging and Supporting Community of Effort
The July 2017 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: artificial photosynthesis; developing laboratory skills through technology; using videos to enhance learning; smartphones in the laboratory; 3D printing as a teaching resource; exploring and understanding structure; making chemistry connections; research on inquiry; from the archives: elephant's toothpaste.
I recently watched a video in which a chemist (who goes by the nickname “NurdRage”) activated a chemiluminescent reaction by vapor deposition. I wanted to try it out for myself! Unfortunately, oxalyl chloride is toxic, corrosive, and a lachrymator. Thus, the experiment conducted by NurdRage needs to be conducted in a hood, and it is not particularly amenable to simple presentations. I began to wonder how I could create this vapor activated chemiluminescence using simple materials.
Over the past 30 years, numerous articles have been written about the importance of student teacher relationships. The National Education Association, NEA, offers advice for beginning teachers that includes establishing the classroom climate, conducting class efficiently, and reaching all students. When teachers effectively connect to their students, discipline problems decrease and student engagement increases.
My first year teaching chemistry, I was looking for a soap-making lab or activity that I could run in my chemistry class with 25-30 students working at the same time. I usually do this activity right before spring break, as it provides enough time for the soap to harden and cure (high school students are impatient to use their soaps right away, which you should not do with cold process soap). I have used the activity at different points in the curriculum: during intermolecular forces during acids and bases, and during stoichiometry. Although I know teachers who use soap making as a project during their stoichiometry unit, I chose to not emphasize the calculations as it would require more time than I have available. Simply making the soap easily fits in a 45-minute period.
45 minutes to just make the soap. Discussion of key concepts may take another class period.
In Chemical Mystery #10, plastic straws are observed to “magically” change color when waved in the air. Check out the explanation and the video.