Doug Ragan's blog

That’s What Scientists Do!

As I began to prepare my labs for this upcoming year, I decided to put a bit of a twist on a previous density of a block lab I had used in the past entitled the Measurement Challenge that is sold by Flinn Scientific. It can also be used to find the mass of a block given the materials density and requiring students to measure and calculate the blocks volume. My added twist resulted in great scientific discourse. 

A Better Way to Organize Laboratory Equipment

I decided to take the time and to do some needed inventory.  I wanted to match equipment to its designated table.  Next, I wanted to make sure that each of my eight lab tables had the proper equipment needed to eliminate no more missing equipment.  Sure enough, as I began the inventory project, I had several tables missing equipment, so once everything was laid out and counted and organized then I had to make sure it was going to stay that way.  I had several rolls of colored tape and it was easy to then begin marking each of the pieces of equipment and glassware with tape. 

The Hindenburg

I have always been intrigued by the story of the Hindenburg, the iconic airship that caught fire on May 6, 1937. The accident killed 35 of the 100 passengers and crewmembers on board. As a chemistry teacher, I discuss this from a chemical standpoint and the fact that the airship was filled with hydrogen, a flammable gas, rather than helium, a non-flammable gas, as today’s modern airships are.

The Importance of Safety.

 Undergraduates Need a Safety Education is the title found in the commentary section of the September 2016 Journal of Chemical Education. It is written by Robert H. Hill Jr and it explains the lack of safety education in chemistry curriculum.  As I read this, I thought back to my safety education that prepared me for my role as a high school chemistry teacher and felt I was very fortunate to have had an undergradutae class that was specifically designed to teach chemical safety. 

Representing Molecules

A quick search on Amazon for a package of 144 ping pong balls and a trip to the arts and crafts store for paint, magnets, and glue and I was ready to start making my own class set of model kits.

The Poisoner’s Handbook

In the June 6th, 2016 Chemical and Engineering News magazine put out by the American Chemical Society, C&EN talks with Deborah Blum, journalist and author: From the article’s description, ‘The Poisoner’s Handbook’ writer talks about the beauty of chemistry and why she wants people to know more about it.