What am I doing to help kids achieve?
How do I know when they are there?
What is the evidence?
Flinn Scientific has a great elearning video series. Many of the videos have master teachers demonstrating some great labs and techniques that they do in the classroom. A general theme in many of the videos seems to be combining demonstrations, labs, calculations and lab practicals. The nice part about what occurs is that for whatever concept the students are doing, it is not enough to come up with an answer on paper. They have to use that answer for a prediction and then see if they are correct actually checking and manipulating material. This idea has added a new dimension to my classroom. Students who are tired of "pen and paper" work now get to get up and use their answers to mass something or find the volume of something and see if they are correct. I have tried to add more of these to my lessons.
This week I did "The Murky Myster of Matter Measurement" by Chad Bridle. Basically, students are working at making a series of predictions and measurements concerning the mass, volume and ultimately density of two different types of beads. It can be found at the Grand Valley State site. It was the first time I used this activity and I will certainly use it again. It encouraged kids to solve problems multiple ways. It brought in other math concepts. It was an easy set up that can be repeated from year to year. It was well received by students and they experienced success. After it was over, I put away all of the balanced except for one that I had. I challenged some students to see if I gave them a certain volume, could they predict exactly what the balance would say before they placed the beads on the balance? They had still had to do the "pen and paper" but asking them to then physically check it and get instant feedback added a new dimension that was helpful for them and exciting for me to see as a teacher.
The next lab we are doing is a traditional "mole" lab in which that I got from Zumdahl "World of Chemistry". Students get 4 types of dry beans. They count out 50 of each and get the mass, the relative weights and how many are in a "pot". A "pot" is defined as the number of beans that it would take to get the relative weight of that bean. Students are guided to the idea that the relative weights, the "pot" and the number of beans in a pot is similar to the atomic masses of the elements, moles and Avogadros number. After they finish the lab I am thinking of the added challenge of a problem in which they are provided a certain number of "pots" of a bean or number of beans, they have to predict the mass and then put that many on the scale that I have. Kind of like a min lab practical. They have to hand me their work, the beans and they will be placed on the scale and they will get instant feedback...did they get it correct or not???
Do you do a cool lab practical with instant feedback?? If so..I would love to hear from you...
For Laboratory Work: Please refer to the ACS Guidelines for Chemical Laboratory Safety in Secondary Schools (2016).
For Demonstrations: Please refer to the ACS Division of Chemical Education Safety Guidelines for Chemical Demonstrations.
Other Safety resources
RAMP: Recognize hazards; Assess the risks of hazards; Minimize the risks of hazards; Prepare for emergencies