Blogs

Tribute to Alex Johnstone

I am sad to relay that Alex Johnstone died just before Christmas at age 89. I have written a short tribute to him because although I never knew him, he helped me make sense of why most of the time we fail, and that when we succeed... it is a triumphal moment!

Balancing Equations, Candy and an Evolving Activity

I feel like every year I face the same old dilemma. It starts with an idea in mind of what and how something should be taught. This idea is fine until it is discovered that students this year are different than students last year. The idea is changed or “tweaked”. The process is feels similar to having to “reinvent” the wheel each year. This gets exhausting.

Magnesium, Gas Laws and Exam Review

It was close to the end of the semester and we were covering gas laws. Students were stressed over the idea of finals, final projects due, tests before finals and the holidays. Since we were finishing up the topic and it was important to end with one last assessment and/or lab but the timing was not good and the stress level for everyone was at an all time high. A different course of action was needed.

Nomenclature

Nomenclature is a tough topic. I tell students that we are living in the land of symbols while we study nomenclature. It is important but it is difficult to get them excited. I started fishing for resources. The American Association for Chemistry Teachers (AACT) has been a great resource to help me try new things.

An Old Favorite: Brass Pennies

Take a look at an old favorite, the brass penny activity. There are several variations of procedural steps to be found. The safest version uses either a low concentration of NaOH or a solution of zinc chloride. 

Helping Students Make Connections by Reading and Analyzing "Chemistry's Core Ideas"

In this blog post, I share how I use an article from Dr. Peter Atkins, "Chemistry's Core Ideas." My IB Chemistry students read the article early in our program - and then revisit the article numerous times throughout our two-year course. The Google Slide document my students use is included in the supporting information.