Especially JCE: March 2018

March 2018 cover of JCE

I like it when mainstream movies have at least a small moment that crosses over into chemistry application. In the classroom, using a brief clip brings one more point of connection to a concept, outside of the textbook.

I have showed a scene from the 1991 version of Father of the Bride with Steve Martin in high school classes. The connection was limiting reagents, played out by Martin going over the edge when purchasing hot dog buns, sold in packages of 12, to equal the number of hot dogs, sold in packages of 8. His solution—rip open each package of buns to remove four “superfluous buns.” (You might enjoy this version I found on YouTube.)

The example remains a favorite of mine. Clash of the Chemists: A Gamified Blog To Master the Concept of Limiting Reagent Stoichiometry(available to JCE subscribers) in the March 2018 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education brings an opportunity for more analogies, with students creating “personal analogies explaining the difference between stoichiometric and nonstoichiometric reaction conditions, also known in the literature as ‘limiting reagent stoichiometry’.” They used it at the university level, but it could easily be applied to a high school environment. Students were invited to create an analogy, with many of the results taking the form of a recipe or the assembly of a particular item. One student took an outside-the-box idea, showing how many Boy Scouts can be adequately supervised by one adult (see figure 1).


Figure 1 – Reprinted with permission from Clash of the Chemists: A Gamified Blog To Master the Concept of Limiting Reagent Stoichiometry, le Maire, Verpoorten, Fauconnier, and Colaux-Castillo. Journal of Chemical          Education, 95 (3), pp 410 - 415. Copyright 2018 American Chemical Society.

To share the above analogies, the authors framed the optional assignment in a gamified context using their institution’s online learning management system. Students earned points by creating an analogy. This was enough to put them on the leaderboard. Additional actions were associated with other positive or negative point awards: “attacking” another student’s analogy if it appeared to be incorrect, being attacked, and defending against an attack. Beyond the authors’ stated benefit of a student seeing varied examples of analogies from fellow classmates, they mention its advantages related to other skills such as reasoned argumentation.

My take on the article: This could be used as an assignment without the more involved online aspect or the gamification. For example, students could turn in analogies, with selected ones shown by the instructor (either anonymous or not) for viewing and class discussion. Some students “mentioned the rankings as a negative aspect of the mini-game.” I feel the same, although the authors bring up that while they can be discouraging to some, they can be motivating to others. The article says the game has “a cooperative aspect as feedback was given by other students.” However, I was put off by the labeling of constructive feedback as an “attack” that needed to be “defended,” in the vein of the “Clash of Chemists” theme (based on the online game “Clash of Clans”).


Stoichiometry: More from the Journal

Past JCE Classroom Activities give students hands-on opportunities to investigate stoichiometry and limiting reagents:

Lego Stoichiometry

Fizzy Drinks: Stoichiometry You Can Taste

For another analogy example, see Learning Stoichiometry with Hamburger Sandwiches. (articles available to JCE subscribers)

What have you used from JCE related to stoichiometry? Share! Start by submitting a contribution form, explaining you’d like to contribute to the Especially JCE column. Then, put your thoughts together in a blog post. Questions? Contact us using the ChemEd X contact form.


More from the March 2018 Issue

Mary Saecker’s post JCE 95.03 March 2018 Issue Highlights brings the monthly round up of the latest collection of articles from JCE. It’s a great overview to help you hone in on what you’d like to read first.