I have no idea what the title is of the first Journal of Chemical Education article that I want to highlight this month. That’s because you haven’t written it yet.
Thinking Like a Chemist
The May 2016 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: assessment & learning theories, science literacy & chemical information, engaging young chemists in chemistry, analysis of real-world samples, organic chemistry in the classroom and lab, computational chemistry in the laboratory, thermodynamics, kinetics projects, understanding hydrophobic & hydrophilic materials.
I am facing what many teachers are facing. It is AP week, I am trying to continue "as usual" with doing labs and learning but this time of year is anything but "as usual". There is a rates lab we do this time of year which is a good lab, rather involved with a significant amount of set up and work. I got an idea for a slightly different rates lab from Bob Worley. I found a similar large scale version from Flinn Scientific. Thanks to Bob, I decided to do a microscale version.
Organic chemistry was when I fell in love with chemistry. Also known as Chem 210 at the University of Michigan, it was the first time I actually started to connect what was going on at the nanoscopic level to the macroscopic world. Since then, I’ve been hooked.
I have been on a mission lately to make scientists out of my students. I am long past my fears that they are not capable of discovering the world for themselves or that they won’t learn the content if we spend too much time on science practices. What I have to work on now is orchestrating the experience. The pedagogy underlying Modeling Instruction has become the backbone for much of my instruction lately. This method of instruction not only gives my students an engaging, authentic scientific experience but has resulted in deeper content knowledge.
With the end of the school year approaching, educators are not only developing their semester exams, they are preparing for the upcoming school year as well. Although each individual educator has their own approach to improving their curriculum, many will be spending their time off aligning their curriculum to the Next Generation Science Standards. Currently eighteen states have adopted the Next Generation Science Standards, with additional states developing their own modified version. The idea of revising curriculum for each and every course can be daunting as educators try to identify a common theme that can be applied throughout the entire department. So where do we start? How do we thread a common theme for the professional development provided in our subject area?
We’ve all seen and use the so-called Aufbau Diagram. It is a mnemonic used to remember the order of “filling” of atomic orbitals during the construction of the ground state electron configurations of the elements. The presentation of this diagram is largely disconnected from any physical meaning. Here’s what we tell our students: “Memorize the diagram, learn to use it, and you’re guaranteed to get the right answer.”
A complete understanding of why each element has a particular electronic configurations is a very complex subject. Even so, some confusion regarding the electronic configurations of the elements may be alleviated by looking at the physical properties of the electronic orbitals.