Blogs

Toward an Accessible Set of Chemistry Core Ideas to Help Students Make Sense of Phenomena

NGSS crosscutting concepts and core ideas are intended to be used as evidence to support explanations and arguments. I have found several lists of Chemistry core ideas online, but I don’t think I would give the ones I have seen to my students because they are either too long or written with language that I don’t think is suitable for novice learners of Chemistry. I have compiled a list of the crosscutting concepts and 12 core ideas for high school Chemistry that my students could use to support the explanations and arguments I will be asking them to write. 

What is Reasoning?

I attended a professional development session on the NGSS earlier this week by Brett Moulding and Nicole Paulson based on the book they wrote with Rodger Bybee, A Vision and Plan for Science Teaching and Learning. The authors propose the “gathering-reasoning-communicating” (GRC) structure as a simplified way of thinking about the Science and Engineering Practices. Reasoning is the keystone of the GRC structure and the primary thing we want science students to be doing. “Gathering” provides the raw materials for reasoning and “communicating” helps us know that reasoning has taken place.

Using Phenomenon-Based Inquiry to Begin Gas Law Study in an Introductory High School Chemistry Course

Students can sometimes struggle to grasp gas behavior, as it’s much harder to visualize gases rather than readily available solutions, solids, or mixtures. Indeed, for many labs, if gas is a product, we’re often relegated to using balloons or gas columns to capture and measure the gases produced by reactions, which can be tricky or expensive. So this year, I tried something a little different when starting my intro chemistry students’ gas laws unit, and was very happy with the results. 

Some Like it Hot

In my class, I use the illustration of a mountain to help students push through the challenges of chemistry. Stoichiometry is the top of chemistry mountain. As we progress through the year, I say things like “the mountain is getting steep here!” or “there is not a lot of oxygen up here!” or “I will carry you up chemistry mountain if I have to!” to keep students motivated. When students finally get to the top of chemistry mountain (mid quarter 3), the air is thin, they are tired and they are ready to base jump off the mountain (see illustration from a former student below).