Greg Rushton and I presented in the George Hague Memorial AP/IB Chemistry Symposium at the 2014 BCCE conference in Michigan. We are excited to highlight the first SPECIAL ISSUE of the Journal of Education covering AP Chemistry. Given the new AP Curriculum, the time was right to put out a call for papers last year asking stake holders to weigh in on the topic. We are happy with the well rounded response and hope you will take a look at the issue. Most of the articles are already live on the JCE Web site. We are interested in your comments and also encourage suggestions of topics for future Special Issues that will be of interest specifically for the high school audience.
Chemistry classroom accidents have been in the news too often recently. I hazard to suggest that there are smaller incidents that never make the news because there are luckily no serious injuries. We need to be vigilant in our safety concerns to protect our students and ourselves from any accidents and exposure to hazardous substances. We also need to be aware of theft concerns. Unfortunately, students may be looking for ingredients to experiment with explosives or to manufacture illicit drugs.
I am enrolled in a Modeling Instruction Workshop in Michigan. We have only four days left of the 15 scheduled days. I had planned to blog about the workshop every day, but I found that it was difficult for me to articulate my thoughts quickly enough to post daily.
Will you be attending BCCE 2014? There is still time to register! This is one of the best opportunities for high school chemistry teacher professional development. Grand Valley State University BCCE organizers have worked to make this year’s BCCE an affordable and valuable experience for high school level teachers. High school teachers may register at the reduced rate of $210 ($350 for regular attendees). If you are attending, I hope you will consider attending our ChemEd X Workshop. We will provide training to those interested in contributing their ideas with our community of educators. See the workshop abstract below. I hope to see you in August!
I was looking for a new demonstration to initiate a discussion about polarity and related properties to use as part of an exam review. I found a video at ChemEd X (this is part of a ChemEd X subscription). It is entitled “Floating Squares – Hexane and Water” (see note below). I have placed both solutions together before, but I had not added the squares. The demonstration fulfilled my needs. I could have used the original video and muted it if I had not had hexane to demonstrate with.
I was recently drawn to an article published ASAP in JCE entitled Application of the Second Law of Thermodynamics To Explain the Working of Toys. Erick Castellon wrote the article highlighting the use of three toys that are used to help students develop an understanding of the second law of thermodynamics and entropy by having them observe the working of the toys and the energy transfers that occur while playing with them. I already had two of the toys, the radiometer and the drinking bird. I ordered the stirling engine from the link provided in the supporting information. As I waited for the stirling engine to arrive from Japan (which was only a few days) I attempted to write an activity to guide my students to conceptual understanding as they worked with the toys.
I attended 5th grade camp with my son, Stevie, this week. Camp Miniwanca is a beautiful property between the vastness of Lake Michigan and a much smaller inland Stony Lake. The program is based upon the "experiential learning cycle". Small groups of campers work through a series of challenges. The counselors and chaperones allow the children to struggle, disagree and fail. Of course, success is congratulated and enjoyed. Children choose their own goals for individual challenges, so they have an opportunity to strive for their "best self" and meeting or exceeding whatever goal they have made is celebrated. Children were given many team and individual responsibilities. Every part of the day at camp had a purpose. Stevie is the youngest of my children. I have chaperoned several camps before and I attended a few as a child myself and one as an adult participant. This one was by far the best run camp I have attended. Many camps give lip service to experiential learning, but the thing that I observed at Camp Miniwanca that impressed me was there attentiveness to the entire process of the experiential learning cycle.