Periodic Table Board Game

This week I am on spring break. Before spring break, my honors and regular Chemistry 1 classes made it through our third unit called “Periodic Table and Periodicity.” During this unit, we take about 3 days to learn the content and another 3-4 days to practice the content (more for Chemistry 1, less for Honors). One way that I have my students review the content is by playing a board game that I recreated from an NSTA conference a few years ago. In this board game students are instructed to place words on their proper line/location (including names of families/groups and regions of the periodic table) and arrows on yellow dots pointing in the direction that that periodic trend increases (trends include: Electronegativity, Ionization Energy, and Atomic Size/Radius). Feel free to create additional periodic trend arrows depending on what you’ve covered in class.

Using an iPad simulation and an online Java applet to help students understand Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution curves

There are occasionally discussions amongst educators about the efficacy of using technology in the classroom. Does it really make a difference? One train of thought is looking at the use of technology through the SAMR lens. Is the technology simply a Substitution? Or does it Augment the learning compared to previous methods of learning the same material. Maybe the use of technology Modifies the learning tasks. Or will the technology actually Redefine the learning by allowing the student to interact with knowledge in a way that is impossible without this technology. With this in mind, I set about to use an iPad app and an online simulation to introduce my IB Chemistry students to the concept of Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution curves. I'm not sure exactly where it fits on the SAMR continuum, but without the simulations I could only show my students the graphical representation of the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution curve. By using the simulations, I am attempting to help my students develope a deeper understanding of them.

Chemistry Olympiad

I have taught for almost 30 years and have attended my fair share of professional development. Many of these have been very good (ChemEd, BCCE, ACS, NSTA, and ICE) but nothing has been as motivating, influential, and beneficial to my career as getting involved in the Chemistry Olympiad. Every year, the ACS sponsors a local section contest for high school students.

So You Think You Can Demo

“So You Think You Can Demo” is a fun and educational contest sponsored by ChemEd committee members to allow chemical educators to have a platform to share their best hands-on science demonstrations. We encourage all ChemEd 2015 attendees to submit a video showing off your most creative, informative and interesting chemistry demo. The deadline for submission of a demo video is April 30th.

The Chemistry of a Family-Style Dinner – Ideas Invited!

Science is creative; it requires new ideas, new patterns, and new solutions to old problems. A deep understanding of the periodic table is the most critical knowledge in chemistry. I want my students to experience the table and conceptualize its trends in a deeper way. Combining creative ideas from an AP Lit project with my honors chemistry content, I am brainstorming about a more engaging, more challenging summative assessment on periodic table families. I would love to hear your ideas and collaborate to build an exciting assessment.


How Does an Orange Peel Pop a Balloon? Chemistry, of Course!

The juice from an orange peel causes a balloon to pop.  When I first saw this effect I immediately thought to myself, “what is the chemistry involved in this experiment?” After quickly searching the web, I found several claims that a compound in orange peels called limonene (Figure 1) is responsible for this effect.  Limonene is a hydrocarbon, which means that molecules of limonene are composed of only carbon and hydrogen atoms.  Limonene is responsible for the wonderful smell of oranges, and it is a liquid at room temperature.