Resources for Teaching Chemistry Online

hand reaching from a hanging lit light bulb

Near the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic ChemEd X began compiling a list of both new and previously published ChemEd X posts and resources that might be useful to teachers while teaching remotely. This list continues to grow. Readers are encouraged to check in often to find new content  and to comment with additional resources that we can add to our list. 

Published on ChemEd X

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Lesson Ideas Suitable for Online Instruction

A Virtual Adaptation of a Periodic Table Card Sort and Lab, Husting: This virtual adaptation provides students the opportunity to engage in a process similar to the one Mendeleev used as he constructed the original version of the periodic table we still use today.

Naming and Formula Writing for Ionic Compounds Virtual Activity, O'Brien: This remote learning activity is a fun way for students to practice name and formula writing that will not be as boring as a worksheet full of practice questions. 

Adjusting a Types of Reactions Lab for Virtual, Mintz: This virtual version of this lab by no means replaces the students physically conducting the reactions themselves but during these times this activity can be used to supplement the teaching of chemical reactions.

The Mole - A Free Virtual Chemistry Lab Activity, Kenney - In section 1, students learn what a mole looks like for different substances. In section 2, students learn how the number of protons and neutrons in the nucleus determines the molar mass of an element by comparing individual isotopes in a PhET simulation.

Solubility and Concentration - A Free Virtual Chemistry Lab Activity, Kenney - In this activity, students learn about solubility and concentration. They watch videos that explain the dissolving process, how to calculate the molarity, supersaturation and how to make rock candy. They also use a PhET simulation to explore factors that affect the concentration of a solution. 

Introducing Density - A Free Virtual Chemistry Lab Activity, Kenney - The author explains a virtual chemistry lab activity for use in a high school chemistry class. This activity is an excellent way to introduce measurements, significant figures, and the concept of density.

Stoichiometry - A Free Virtual Chemistry Lab Activity, Kenney - In this virtual activity, a video introduces stoichiometry and guides students to think conceptually using a simple baking analogy. Afterward, stoichiometry calculations connect to the analogy, that are then reinforced with a simple experiment. Finally, students explore a PhET simulation to deepen their knowledge.

Density "POGIL-Like" Activity, Belleau: This POGIL-Like density activity is suitable for online instruction.

Types of Ionizing Radiation Lab and Simulation, Stewart - Radioactivity is a topic in chemistry that can be difficult to teach. This can be used in school or in an online learning environment to give students an authentic lab experience for them to determine there are three types of ionizing radiation without direct instruction. 

Use Your Smartphone as an "Absorption Spectrophotometer", Kuntzleman - Learn a simple and very inexpensive way to build and use an "absorption spectrometer" using a smartphone. This is a great way to implement Beer's Law experiments in your classroom or at home!

Chemical Kinetics with a Smartphone, Kuntzleman - This experiment in chemical kinetics can be conducted using materials as simple as a smartphone, hydrogen peroxide, sodium carbonate solution, and blue food dye! The experiment is useful when discussing the order of rate laws with respect to reactants.

A replacement Maxwell-Boltzmann Distribution Simulation, Thomson: A simulation for studying Maxwell-Boltzmann Distribution Curves, as the previous used online simulation was no longer working due to Java issues.

What Not to Do LabRagan: With more than 30 safety violations shown, the cartoon serves as a great ice breaker as I have each student introduce themselves and then list a safety infraction being shown on the cartoon.

Using IUPAC's Isotopes Matter as a Digital Learning Tool, OkroyIsotopes Matter is a digital learning tool, developed by IUPAC Isotopic Periodic Table, designed to explain isotopes as well as their importance. This resource incorporates mass spectroscopy data into each of the key ideas as well as provides multiple examples as to how varying isotopes are commonly used. You will also find a related activity by the same author: Extension Activity with Isotopes Matter

NGSS-ify Alka-Seltzer Rocket Activity - With Virtual OptionsO'Brien: In this lab students are given a film canister, a quantity of Alka Seltzer of their own choosing and any materials available in the room to investigate factors that affect the rate of reaction. They work with their groups to create CER boards and then the class engages in a Glow and Grow session. 

Practice Measuring Using Significant Figures In-Person or Virtually, Clippard: This activity allows students to see many different types of scales in order to become proficient at measuring and determining how many digits to record in any measurement, whether it be volumes, masses, lengths, etc.

Using Desmos to Create an Organic Nomenclature Card Sorting Activity, Meacham: Desmos offers an activity building feature that allows teachers to create and customize activities.

Periodic Trends Guided-Inquiry Activity, Baxley: Trends related to placement of elements on the periodic table are often taught using diagrams in a textbook. Students often memorize trends, but to get a true grasp of their meaning and what causes certain patterns is best understood when students create their own models and discuss the patterns with others. Easily adaptable to a virtual environment.

Green Eggs Solubility Activity, Cullen: This activity explores the relationship of the solubility of gas to temperature. It lends itself to an at-home or hybrid setting.

A guided group inquiry lesson on coordination compounds and complex ions, Morgan: A guided group inquiry lesson on the chemistry topic of coordination compounds and complex ions suitable for AP Chemistry and first-year college chemistry students is presented. 

Exploring the Diet Coke and Mentos Experiment, Kuntzleman: Explore food science, solutions, gas solubility and more with this engaging activity.

Airbag challenge, In the “Airbag challenge” the students are tasked with developing a safe airbag for a car company. This formative assessment explores students’ thinking about the question “How can chemical changes be controlled?”

Soap Boat 2.0, Kuntzleman: The soap boat experiment makes use of the Marangoni Effect, the tendency of material to move from a region of low surface tension to a region of high surface tension. This activity is useful when teaching solutions. 

How Does an Orange Peel Pop a Balloon? Chemistry, of Course!, Kuntzleman: Some orange peels can cause balloons to pop. The compound in orange peels called limonene is responsible for this effect. Limonene is responsible for the wonderful smell of oranges, and it is a liquid at room temperature.

Chemistry in a Bottle, Kuntzleman: Are you familiar with the dynamic density bottle experiment? This interesting experiment was invented by Lynn Higgins, and is sold by various science supply companies. Two immiscible liquids (usually salt water and isopropyl alcohol) and two different types of plastic pieces are contained within a dynamic density bottle.

Fun with M & M's, Kuntzleman: This simple, yet interesting experiment that was first described by Elizabeth Sumner Walter in 2001. She merely had students pour water into a dish containing some Gobstoppers candies. You may also be interested in Tom's follow up activity: Solution to the M&M Mystery?.

What is the Pressure in a Soda Bottle?, Kuntzleman: What is the pressure inside a bottle of soda pop? Read this short article to find the surprising answer to this question, and also to learn how to do an experiment to answer this question for yourself! 

Energizer Lab with Virtual Options, Cullen (w/ virtual options added by M. Hemling): In this lab, students connect the workings of an electrochemical cell in the lab with the symbolic equations used in electrochemistry and manipulate a model representing the particulate level of what is happening during the electrochemical process.

Technology & Teaching Resources

Supercharge Your Classroom with GIFs, Hemling: Help students visualize particulate level models with GIFs! Animate 3-D shapes, directions, and digital stickers as well.

Website to Create Virtual Activities - flippity, O'Brien: This website provides teachers and students the ability to take a Google Sheet and turn it into a wide variation of activities.

Increasing Engagement in Online Lecture Using Zoom Features, Jennie Mayer: Describes some lessons learned for increasing attendance, participation, engagement, discussion, assessment, and building community in the online classroom.

Pivot Interactives—A Resource All Chemistry Teachers Should Know About, Meacham - As a teacher, having the freedom to create or edit something within my instruction based on the needs of my students is incredibly important to me. So, when I found out the activities in Pivot Interactives are completely customizable, I was thrilled. (Originally published 12/14/18)

A Virtual Lab Format for Online Teaching During COVID-19 - Josh Kenney describes how he will format his chemistry labs including the use of PhET simulations in his remote classroom this fall.

App Review - Classkick - Doug Ragan explains how he has used Classkick as a web-based formative assessment tool.

Computer Based Labs – eBook, Manning: This book is filled with computer based labs that can be used in a range of classes.

Filling the Void: Options for Authentic Investigations Online, Meacham: The author focuses on two available options that he believes have the greatest potential for offering a legitimate approach toward authentic investigations in a digital environment.

Using Desmos to Create an Organic Nomenclature Card Sorting Activity, Meacham: Desmos offers an activity building feature that allows teachers to create and customize activities.

Adapting Card Sorts for Digital Instruction, Ramaswamy: The author explains how she uses Google Slides to to adapt her previously used card sorts for remote instruction.

New online tool: The Atomsmith Classroom Online, Thomson: The author discusses his thoughts on the Atomsmith Classroom Online. Also see Why I think I love Husting.

Things Learned from Hybrid Teaching (Part 1), Serkin: Ariel explains her computer set-up and how she manages a hybrid teaching scenario.

Editing Videos to Serve as Virtual Labs, Meacham: Ben Meacham shares what he has learned about editing videos for his students since they are unable to be in the lab. Students can watch the steps of the procedure and collect data from the video so they can complete a post-lab assignment. 

How to Use EdPuzzle to Support Virtual and Hybrid Learning, Kenney: EdPuzzle is a content delivery tool that can increase student engagement and metacognition. Here, we will explore how to use this application to help your students learn in a remote or hybrid setting.

Whiteboarding in a Virtual Classroom with Melissa Hemling, In this recorded ChemEd X Talk, Melissa shares how she uses the digital whiteboards to gauge student understanding and pinpoint misconceptions like she did pre-COVID.

Providing Feedback Remotely with Ariel Serkin, In this recorded ChemEd X Talk, Ariel shares the process she is using and how she is providing feedback to her students remotely.

Feedback: A Tool to Help Address the Issues of Time and Engagement, Meacham: Using the Chrome extension, Mote, allows teachers to attach an audio recording of their feedback to student work. 

Making Interactive Lecture Videos Using PlayPosit, Cox: PlayPosit provides a medium for embedding interactive lecture and/or lab videos.  

Formative Assessment Using Nearpod with Michael Farabaugh, In this recorded ChemEd X Talk, Michael shared how he uses the interactive features of Nearpod to create formative assessment items that provide valuable feedback and facilitate student participation.

Strategies and Tips for Teaching Online

Getting More Students To Come To Office Hours, Mayer: This blog post describes some strategies, including a tool called Calendly which makes scheduling appointments much easier, which might help increase office hour visitation.

Realistic Expectations for Online (Remote) Classes, Carrigan: The author offers tips and guidelines for expectations while teaching online.

Origami Rabbits and Flipped Chemistry Classroom, Tarvin: It is important to consider that if you are creating videos for students to use, they need to understand how to use those videos. If students have not used videos for instruction previously, they do need some advice.

Card Sort Hacks, Hemling: Card sorts teachers can share digitally to students to complete at home. 

POGIL Activities in an Asynchronous Learning Environment, O’Brien: While POGIL Activities are designed to be completed synchronously in collaborative teams but, there are ways to utilize the activities in an asynchronous online setting.

Switching to Online Chemistry Instruction Amidst COVID-19, Kenney: The author shares how he has structured his new Virtual Chemistry Course.

Three Necessary Adjustments for Teaching During COVID-19, Kenney: The author discusses strategies and changes to his course in response to the needs of his students and the nature of online learning.

NGSS During e-Learning, O’Brien: Techniques to address four NGSS science and engineering practices.

What’s going on inside their head? – Student-made videos for metacognitive problem solving, Kenney: Although virtual learning environments pose challenges for facilitating metacognitive activities, student-made videos are effective for increasing metacognition in online chemistry instruction.

Activities to Promote Higher-Order Thinking in Virtual Asynchronous Chemistry Learning, Kenney: Two metacognitive learning activities that are easy to incorporate into an online learning environment.

Features of Effective Flipped Classroom Videos, Kenney: The author has been creating video tutorials for use in a flipped classroom setting for some time. Over the years, the format of his videos has evolved as he has uncovered the best practices in technique.

Tips for Creating Your Own Video Tutorials, Kenney: More students use YouTube than any other demographic. Considering this reality, I began creating my own video content on my YouTube channel, The Science Classroom. As a seasoned YouTube content creator, I offer tips for getting started with your own science tutorials.

Global Experiments, Hemling: With millions of teachers and students facing remote-learning because of COVID-19, a global experiment may be a great way to engage students at home.

Students have answered the question, but what are they thinking?, Balicki: As physical distancing continues and we persist in teaching our chemistry classes online, it behooves us as teachers to spend some time considering how we can purposefully observe and decipher the written work that our students submit.

Planning for an Uncertain Future, Husting: Ideas for projects during remote learning.

Benefits of Teaching Chemistry Online, Carrigan: Twelve years teaching a fully online GOB (General Organic Biochemistry) chemistry course have revealed many benefits for faculty and students alike. This blog focuses on some positive aspects of teaching online.

Flipping the Classroom...the Good, the Bad and the Ugly..., Husting: This the brief story of an attempt by one teacher to "flip" things. You will get the good, the bad and the ugly.

Thoughts About Using the HyFlex Model for Science Instruction. Villa: This blog describes experiences with the HyFlex model.

Creating Interactive Particle Diagram Activities for Online Instruction, Farabaugh. The author describes how to create interactive particle diagram activities that are easy for students to use online. This strategy is applicable to almost any particle diagram and should be useful for teachers during virtual lessons.


Creating a Classroom Culture 

Build a Boat Collaboration was originally published in 2014 by Kristin Gregory. A modified slide show for using the activity remotely has just been added. Her original post had been inspired by Erica Posthuma's activity she shared in Build a Boat (and a classroom culture)This back to school activity can be a valuable way to create a classroom culture of teamwork and growth mindset. Ryan Bruick's post, How “The Learning Pit” Can Help Establish a Culture for Learning, offers even more insight into creating a classroom culture. 


Equity, Support & Philosophical Content

Teaching in the Time of COVID-19, Serkin: Discussion of the struggle to provide an equitable education during remote learning.

Teaching During Difficult Times, Husting: The author discusses ways to help our students during this time.

Online Labs and the Question of the Relevance of the Lab Curriculum, Clarissa Sorensen-Unruh: Centers on the question, "Is chemistry laboratory coursework still relevant?"


Chemistry / COVID Connection

Chemical Illustrations of Flattening of the Curve, Kuntzleman, Campbell, Kraft, Lippincott, Rosengarten: Two chemistry demonstrations that can be used to illustrate “flattening of the curve”.

Bubbly BBs and Vaccinated Mentos: Chemical Illustrations to Promote Public Health Measures, Campbell, Lippincott: The demonstrations above have been modified to promote public health measures like masking and vaccinations.

Demonstrating the Effectiveness of Mask-Wearing with Liquid Nitrogen, Kuntzleman: The demonstration uses liquid nitrogen to visualize the aerosol particles emitted while speaking, coughing, breathing, and sneezing.

Applying Chemistry Principles to COVID-19: Think-Pair-Share Questions, Donnelly: This post is comprised of questions (Qs) that challenge students to apply the knowledge acquired in their chemistry education to COVID-19. 

Explaining Scientific Research Communication in the Age of COVID-19, Harvey: Helping students understand key items that impact the reputation of science and scientists: What makes someone an expert? What is the purpose of peer review and who are the "peers"? How can the scientific community balance the immediate need for new information with the need for reliable information?


Other Outside Resources That Support Online Education

Moving Face-to-Face Classes Online... Fast from Alison Flynn at the University of Ottawa has an infographic and list of resources

AACT - American Association of Chemistry Teachers: Even if you are not already an AACT member you can still benefit from their resources. AACT has unlocked some of their resources and they are now freely available to the chemistry community through March 31. These resources include activities, animations, projects, simulations, videos and more for elementary school, middle school, high school, and Advanced Placement/general chemistry.

Alchemie: Alchemie makes chemistry learning resources. They are offering Mechanisms (software for modeling organic chemistry reaction mechanisms) and ModelAR (a virtual molecular modeling program) for free.

Bretz Research Group - Miami University of Ohio, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry: The Bretz Group has compiled a list of resources to support chemical ed and biochemical ed instructors that are moving to remote / online instruction due to the Corona Virus. Most of these are college level resources.

ChemMatters - American Chemistry Society - ChemMatters magazines is written for high schoolers and available online.  

Desmos: This is for more than math class! Check out Ben's post about using Desmos to make card sorts.

FlipgridFlipgrid is free for teachers & students. Students and teachers can record and share short videos.

FLINN AT-HOME SCIENCE: Check out the resources Flinn Science has organized to help teachers and parents find the right content solutions to continue their student's progression at home during this time.

Flynn Research Group - University of Ottawa: Moving to Face-to-Face classes online...FAST (Resources and helpful Infographic)

Lincoln High School Chemistry: Erin Otte-Meyer shared on the AP Chemistry Teacher Facebook Page - The Lincoln High School Chemistry Department just completed a website aligned to their curriculum to support in-class instruction. It contains readings, videos, practice sheets w/ keys, practice tests w/ keys.

OLI Chemistry free for COVID-19 impacted institutions - ChemCollective: These materials are free for use by Covid-19 impacted institutions. The courseware covers General Chemistry I and General Chemistry II. Each module includes short amounts of texts, worked examples (including interactive worked examples), a multitude of thoughtfully scaffolded practice problems (with adaptive and targeted feedback), and assessments. The integration of these components provides a seamless and interactive learning experience for your students. The courseware also provides instructors with data on student performance, which they can use to adapt their instruction to student needs.

Open access virtual reality experiences for organic chemistry laboratories: Open access virtual reality experiences for organic chemistry laboratories created in partnership between the Department of Chemistry, North Carolina State University and Distance Education and Learning Technology Applications (DELTA).

Open Science: The content on this University of Waterloo site is freely available and targets a variety of topics relevant to high school science. New lessons and problems will be added as they are completed, so check the site regularly.

Organic Chemistry Educational Resources (OrganicERs) faculty learning community is a web-based community launched by the NSF-sponsored Chemistry Collaborations, Workshops and Community of Scholars program (cCWCS). It is primarily designed for college-level instructors to network and to collaborate; and to access, share and develop curriculum materials.

PhET Interactive Simulations - University of Colorado Boulder: Many PhET simulations can serve as at home labs. Every simulation page has a collection of lessons under “Teacher Resources”. You can enhance an online lecture or video with a PhET Demonstration. A PhET simulation can be your dynamic demo equipment or your whiteboard drawing. PhET has 158 STEM simulations! 83 of them in HTML5! Even though some of their Java and Flash simulations can be hard for students to access, they do run on regular computers and can still serve learning through demos and screen capture. 

  • Use the "screenshot" capability under the PhET menu button to have students capture their work and describe their learning.
  • Embed PhET sims in website/LMS - PhET provides HTML code on all sim pages that you can copy and paste to embed a live copy of a simulation!
  • Share a sim to Google Classroom - To add a sim to your Google Classroom, click Google Icon on a sim page. Sims can be added as assignments, supplementary materials, or homework.
  • Embed PhET sims in OneNote - Paste any PhET sim link on to a OneNote page and it will render it as a live interactive embed.
  • Launch just the screen you want - Use our "screens" query parameter to launch just the screens you want your student to use. Try adding "?screens=1" or "?screens=2,3" to the end of a multi-screen sim URL.
  • Need to support offline use? No problem! Each sim can be downloaded individually and will run even without a connection, or you can install our offline installer. See their offline access page.

Resources for Teaching Your Chemistry Class Online: A Free to Read Collection from the American Chemical Society & the ACS Division of Chemical Education: ACS Publications and the ACS Division of Chemical Education are sharing this collection of resources. Click through to access free to read articles from the Journal of Chemical Education.

Strategies for teaching chemistry online Facebook Group initiated by Brittland DeKorver at Grand Valley State University.

Teaching in the Times of COV19Article, Paulette Vincent-Ruz, March 16, 2020

TechSmith: Tech Smith will be providing free access to their screen recording tool, Snagit, and collaboration platform, TechSmith Video Review, for those transitioning to remote learning and working environments.

Titration Screen Experiment - Royal Society of Chemistry: The titration screen experiment has been designed to be a free flexible tool for teachers and students. You can choose to carry out a strong acid - strong base titration (or any combination of strong and weak acid-base titrations). There is also a redox titration experiment to complete in order for students to practise their understanding and skills.

Tips from Faculty for Quickly Preparing to Teach Online - Delta News - NC State University: The title spells out the content of this article. If you have not taught online previously, this is a good place to start.

VIPEr: The Virtual Inorganic Pedagogical Electronic Resource: VIPEr is community for teachers and students of inorganic chemistry. Of special interest per a comment below: Asynchronous online teaching in the COVID-19 era, Adam R. Johnson, Harvey Mudd College (accessed 3/13/20)


Quick Tech tips

How can Vernier products be disinfected?


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