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 – start with an inquiry approach, allowing students to discover gas laws on their own, thanks to easily producible gas phenomena in the lab.
Having had positive experience using Argument Driven Inquiry (ADI), I decided to try and adapt a specific heat lab to the ADI process.
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).
With a desire to increase curiosity and enthusiasm in my classroom along with ideas gleaned from Twitter, I have shifted my curriculum to a lab-first approach.
As a secondary science teacher, I have contact with my students everyday. Making relationships and learning about all of my students is key to letting them know that I am invested in their success.
The American Chemical Society is offering a new service in hopes of making science more accessible to the public. Each week they issue a short collection of science articles, written in an interesting and engaging style, that you might use with your students to help them make connections between the curriculum and their own lives. The service is called Discoveries!, and it is free.
As teachers, we all know that our job extends far beyond the content we are required to deliver. We are educators, mentors, coaches, parents and more. It is important for us to find ways to wear all of these hats without burning out. I have learned many great strategies that certainly helped re-energize me as a teacher but there was one strategy in particular that I could not get out of my head.
The solution to Chemical Mystery #11, which involves the Leidenfrost Effect, is presented.