JCE 94.09 September 2017 Issue Highlights

Journal of Chemical Education September 2016 Cover

Enhancing Student Success in Chemistry

The September 2017 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: student thinking and student success; computational thinking; using games to teach: developing and making tools for teaching; understanding catalysis; green chemistry; food chemistry in the laboratory; exploring edible fats and oils; NMR spectroscopy; laboratory cross-course collaboration; physical chemistry; distilling the archives: scents and smellability; announcing the search for the next Editor-in-Chief.

A Class Discussion on the Nature of Science

Richard Feynman

The first chapter of every middle and high school science textbook I have ever seen contains a section on “the scientific method.” As a result, by the time your students get to you they are probably very adept at reciting how science is done, or at least how they think it is done. A short list of easy steps is presented which always, incomprehensibly begins with forming a hypothesis (which some people insist must be an if-then statement), and then BOOM! Science has happened. This oversimplification and the dry exercises I’ve seen used to “teach” it led me to dispense with teaching the scientific method explicitly for several years. Rather, I wanted my students to gain an understanding of science by doing science, as best as we can replicate in a classroom, though inquiry labs, class discussions, and defending claims with evidence.

Are you part of an AP Chemistry professional learning community?

photo of student lab work

The research says the best way to make your school better is to encourage teachers to participate in professional learning teams that unpack the standards to determine what each student should learn and how the learning will be measured, build a useful warehouse of evidence that learning is occurring, and critically review data collected to determine useful instructional strategies versus ineffective strategies.

Searching for the Next Editor-in-Chief of JCE

DivChEd logo and JChemEd 9/17 cover

The Board of Publication of the ACS Division of Chemical Education announces the opening of a search for the ninth Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Chemical Education (JCE). The Editor-in-Chief is responsible for all aspects of JCE publication either directly or cooperatively through the co-publication agreement with the ACS Publications Division. A video and other documents are provided to outline the job posting, responsibilities of the position, the routine workings of JChemEd and characteristics of a well-suited candidate. 

Get Your Learn On

screenshot of the AACT.SCALACS/Oxy Chemistry Teachers Meeting

When I first started teaching I was very fortunate that a local teacher invited me to a high school chemistry teachers meeting. I was really young and really motivated to be a better teacher. I registered immediately and went to an all day event. I think I learned more that day than I did in all of my teacher training. It was for chemistry teachers by chemistry teachers. I went to many of these over the years, but they eventually dwindled out. I am happy to say that we have been able to resurrect a new version of this meeting.

Density and Measuring

Density and measuring

If you are looking for a measuring and density activity that will be challenging, allow students to experience success early on and can be boxed up to use again, you might consider trying the activity that I am sharing in this post.  

Measuring Activity

Big ball small ball

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 "small ball". Small balls are the exact same as regular baseballs just smaller. Coaches use these to help players with fielding and hitting. You can buy them at a sporting good store, online or if you are like me, make friends with the baseball coach. 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.

The Teacher Page - An Organizational Tool

Desktop Clutter

The Teacher Page includes all of the notes I need to set up, run, and clean up the particular experiment. I record from whom I obtained the lab. I list the location of chemicals in the stockroom. I've added what does and does not work, so that I don't have to remember it from year to year. I have notes of things to try in the future. The most important part, however, is the giant spreadsheet to calculate amounts of chemicals needed to make multiple volumes of solutions. This saves so much time and repeated effort!