Straight Talk from AP Chemistry Students about College Board's "AP Insight: Chemistry" Teaching Tools and Assessments

The College Board offers the opportunity to have access to guided inquiry "Building Block" performance tasks, "Building Block" digital assessments, and FRQ-style end of "Building Block" assessments directed specifically at nine "challenge areas." The "challenge areas" are organized according to the AP Chemistry six big ideas. I have used most of the resources available in AP Insight this year with my honors and AP chemistry students. Today, post-AP exam, I asked the students to provide me with feedback about the usefulness of those resources.

Especially JCE: May 2017

JCE May 2017 cover

Erica Jacobsen shares highlights from the May 2017 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education that are of special interest to high school chemistry teachers.

JCE 94.05 May 2017 Issue Highlights

Journal of Chemical Education May 2017 Cover

Lasting Value and High Impact

The May 2017 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: project- and inquiry-based laboratories; measuring value and impact; research on core ideas and clickers; new twists on classic activities; understanding diffraction; acid-base chemistry; teaching informed by technology: flipped learning, biochemistry labs, and scientific computing for chemists; from the archives: chemistry helps feed the world.

Exploring the Diet Coke and Mentos Experiment

Diet Coke and Mentos eruption

I think this experiment provides a fantastic vehicle to involve students of all ages in small, hands-on and exploratory research projects. Like many others, my students and I have investigated various aspects of this interesting fountain.

Brainstorming with the Alchemie Animator

screen shot of app description on iTunes store

 Alchemie Animator by Alchemie, LLC is the latest creation from Julia Winter, CEO of Alchemie and the creator of the app Chairs. The free app is available in the itunes store and is currently designed for both iPhone and iPad.

What to do after AP? Build and test simple dye-sensitized solar cells!

solar cell with clips

Have you considered having your students make solar cells? If your AP kids can understand batteries, solar cells are a logical next step. I usually do independent projects after AP along with final presentations, but I stumbled upon this activity the other day and my mind exploded in excitement and thought I would share. In the future, I would definitely do this with my students!

Demonstration: Reaction of Magnesium and Silver Nitrate

Starting materials for demonstration

I found a version of this demonstration online a couple of years ago. I admit, when I first tried it with my class it was mostly for a crowd pleaser to demonstrate the activity series of metals, but I then became very intrigued by the processes occurring. The original source only referenced the “single replacement reaction” between Mg(s) and AgNO3(aq). Therefore, when I saw a grayish product (silver) I was not surprised. However, I was surprised by the white flash and the production of a white product, which were reminiscent of the classic combustion of magnesium demonstration. This led to some research and my conclusions that follow. Read through to the end and you will find a video of the demo.

Time required: 

30 minutes including preparation time.

Rates Lab and what to do when things don't work....

Rates Lab

I really enjoy doing reaction rate lab with my students. I often change them up so that I use a different version or tweak an old version. This can lead to a variety of outcomes. Sometimes trying something new or tweaking something that went well before can go wrong.