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.
Earth Day is just around the corner. If you are looking for some ideas to highlight environmental issues, the Journal of Chemical Education is offering free access to many articles and activities that you will find interesting. Check them out!
I just recently became aware of the Chemical Educational Foundation® (CEF), a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting youth science education. They have developed a K-8 science curriculum supplement that recently won a Teachers’ Choice Award for the Classroom.
I am excited with my student's response to offering an ACS ChemClub at our high school! ACS does a great job of providing materials and ideas for meetings.
I recently spoke with a chemist from industry that said that if she admits to being a chemist, it is a serious conversation ender. I can relate! I know many of you can to. My colleague, Greg Rushton, shared a similar sentiment in an article introducing himself to the JCE community.
ACS is offering an upcoming webinar highlighting safety called "Tales, Investigations, and Lessons Learned". The role of the US Chemical Safety Board will be defined. Root cause investigations of chemical accidents will be reviewed. Tips on how to prevent chemical accidents will be reviewed.