The Only Thing Constant in Life is Change

Wow! Night one of the semester we did the activity Change You Can Believe In. It was my second time facilitating, so I did a much better job of directing students when they asked questions and it went much faster than last semester. I did still, as expected, have students that were frustrated. One student asked me point blank what the difference between physical and chemical changes is. I redirected her to the goal of the lab and she was willing to return to work with her group. There is a fine line between good frustration, and too much, and this student seemed to be at that perfect point. She was just frustrated enough to continue, but she was not overly discouraged. At the end of the evening, during our class discussion, students were beginning to hone in on the differences between chemical and physical changes. By the following evening, during our pre-lab discussion for The Only Thing Constant in Life is Change, students had an even better idea. Throughout the lab activities, I was impressed with the level of sophistication in their group converstations. They discussed things like whether or not a solid forming is evidence of a physical or chemical change, what is going on at the particulate level when water is boiling, what kind of change is it when a molecule is coming apart and reforming as a different molecule. In addition to these fantastic thoughts, students were learning other good lab skills like how to measure liquid in a graduated cylinder, what waste goes down the drain and what goes into a waste beaker, and what to do when measuring a solid and where to put the excess solid once you have used what you need for your activity. I didn't hear as many (I didn't hear any!) questions about when they would use these measuring skills like I do when we teach the skills indepently from a lab. Overall the students were able to determine the major differences between chemical and physical changes, how to do some basic lab techniques, and how to work as a group and to rely on one another for help, all of which will be helpful throughout this semester!