Blogs

Modeling the Concept of Ionic Bonding

film canisters with different strengths of magnets

When describing abstract concepts like chemical bonding, it always seems to feel far too easy for both teachers and students to resort to the “wants” and “needs” of atoms. After all, we understand what it means to want, need, or like something, so it often feels appropriate (and easier) to use a relatable metaphor or subtly anthropomorphize these atoms to accommodate our students’ current reasoning abilities. While predicting the types of bonds that will form and the general idea behind how atoms bond can be answered correctly using such relatable phrases or ideas, the elephant in the room still in remains—do our students really understand why these atoms bond? 

Straight Talk from AP Chemistry Students about College Board's "AP Insight: Chemistry" Teaching Tools and Assessments

The College Board offers the opportunity to have access to guided inquiry "Building Block" performance tasks, "Building Block" digital assessments, and FRQ-style end of "Building Block" assessments directed specifically at nine "challenge areas." The "challenge areas" are organized according to the AP Chemistry six big ideas. I have used most of the resources available in AP Insight this year with my honors and AP chemistry students. Today, post-AP exam, I asked the students to provide me with feedback about the usefulness of those resources.

Exploring the Diet Coke and Mentos Experiment

Diet Coke and Mentos eruption

I think this experiment provides a fantastic vehicle to involve students of all ages in small, hands-on and exploratory research projects. Like many others, my students and I have investigated various aspects of this interesting fountain.

Brainstorming with the Alchemie Animator

screen shot of app description on iTunes store

 Alchemie Animator by Alchemie, LLC is the latest creation from Julia Winter, CEO of Alchemie and the creator of the app Chairs. The free app is available in the itunes store and is currently designed for both iPhone and iPad.

Chemistry in a Bottle

density bottles

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. The plastic pieces display curious floating and sinking behavior when the bottle is shaken. You can find out even more about how a colleague and I have explored the experiment by attending our session within the ChemEd X Conference: Chemistry Education for the Next Generation.

What to do after AP? Build and test simple dye-sensitized solar cells!

solar cell with clips

Have you considered having your students make solar cells? If your AP kids can understand batteries, solar cells are a logical next step. I usually do independent projects after AP along with final presentations, but I stumbled upon this activity the other day and my mind exploded in excitement and thought I would share. In the future, I would definitely do this with my students!

Rates Lab and what to do when things don't work....

Rates Lab

I really enjoy doing reaction rate lab with my students. I often change them up so that I use a different version or tweak an old version. This can lead to a variety of outcomes. Sometimes trying something new or tweaking something that went well before can go wrong.

Using Visual BCA Tables to Teach Limiting Reactants

picture of materials and WS

A few months ago I was searching the internet, looking for a better way to teach stoichiometry to my pre-AP chemistry students. While my methods of dimensional analysis “got the job done” for most students, I would still always lose students and many lacked true understanding of what was happening in the reaction. I wanted to try something new that would promote a better chemical understanding. In my search for this elusive stoichiometry method, I came across Dena Leggett’s ChemEd X blog post entitled “Doc Save Everyone”, as well as other posts about BCA tables from Lauren Stewart, Lowell Thomson, and Larry Dukerich.