Figuring Out Electron Configurations

connecting ionization energy to electron configurations

After spending the start of the year using a modified version of the Modeling Instruction curriculum (density and physical properties, followed by gas laws, followed by energy and phase changes), we don’t actually start talking about what’s inside atoms until December. I love that by this point students are already familiar with some of the habits of mind needed to reason abstractly about atoms -- thinking proportionally, explaining macroscopic observations at the particle level -- and we are ready to layer on both more abstraction and the symbolic level. By January, we are ready to explore electron configurations.

BEAKER - Mix Chemicals

Beaker app logo

This week, one of my students alerted me to some mobile apps featuring chemistry. One, in particular, seems to be mostly free and incorporates a hands-on approach to conducting virtual laboratory experiments. The app is called BEAKER - Mix Chemicals and is offered by THIX on the Apple and Google Play Stores. My student demonstrated how the app works and I gotta say - it's pretty sleek.

Boiling Water, Heating Curves, and Can Crushes

In an effort to better understand my high school students' knowledge of what is happening during phase changes, heating curve calculations, and the ever popular can crush demo, I run them through a series of activities. First, I ask my students "What Temperature Does Water Boil At? 

Time required: 

1.5 days to do all the activities including lecture on heating curve calculations.

LED lights and the Periodic Table

Every LED light has a "band gap". Electrons are pushed into an empty orbital which is negative and then the positive end of the circuit attracts the electrons. As they go down in energy through the band gap, they emit light. The larger the band gap, the more energy, the smaller the wavelength and the closer to the "blue" end of the spectrum. So, the key is to try to control the band gap and thus control the color of light. 

My First Experience Using Claim-Evidence-Reasoning (CER) in the IB Chemistry Classroom

Whiteboard for C.E.R. Discussion

In a recent blog post, Ben Meacham shared his use of the Claim-Evidence-Reasoning Framework. I have started using this approach for class discussion as well, and will share some ideas and thoughts about the process.