Blogs

AP Chemistry Lab Notebook Structure

How do you support growth in your students’ writing and communication over time? There are so many things: Claim, Evidence, Reasoning (CER) scaffolds, sentence starters, and more. How might all of these tools used in introductory courses come together in an upper-level course? In this post, I will focus upon my AP Chemistry lab notebook set-up.

ACS Discoveries! - Making Science More Accessible

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.

Figuring Out Electron Configurations

connecting ionization energy to electron configurations

After spending the start of the year using a modified version of the Modeling Instruction curriculum (density and physical properties, followed by gas laws, followed by energy and phase changes), we don’t actually start talking about what’s inside atoms until December. I love that by this point students are already familiar with some of the habits of mind needed to reason abstractly about atoms -- thinking proportionally, explaining macroscopic observations at the particle level -- and we are ready to layer on both more abstraction and the symbolic level. By January, we are ready to explore electron configurations.

LED lights and the Periodic Table

Every LED light has a "band gap". Electrons are pushed into an empty orbital which is negative and then the positive end of the circuit attracts the electrons. As they go down in energy through the band gap, they emit light. The larger the band gap, the more energy, the smaller the wavelength and the closer to the "blue" end of the spectrum. So, the key is to try to control the band gap and thus control the color of light. 

Beyond the Curriculum

I always find this time of year quite harrowing. I am right in the middle of academic competition season with Olympiads in physics, chemistry, biology, and math. I have science bowl and ocean bowl along with bridge building all on the same day. Why do we do this to ourselves?