Lowell Thomson's blog

Life as an international school chemistry teacher

Lowell - International School teacher

The advantages of international schools vary by individual, but certainly the opportunity to travel and see the world is by far the most common reason teachers move overseas. Smaller class sizes are typical, along with fewer teaching periods in your schedule. As an example, I average about 20 students per class right now, teaching 5 of 8 class periods. This is certainly less than my average of 30-35, teaching six of eight class periods at my last public school in the U.S.

Who inspires you?

heating of copper II sulfate

This blog post may be a bit non-traditional, but in this submission I recall a memory from early in my teaching career when my dad (who was an environmental chemist) visited my classroom. The day remains embedded in my memory bank, and had a profound impact on how I view labs - as an opportunity to extend the learning.

An easy copper electroplating demo for your redox unit

Simple Electroplating Demonstration

My IB seniors are just wrapping up our unit on electrochemistry and redox. This has always been a challenging topic within the IB curriculum. Admittedly, electrochemistry has not ever been my strong suit either, so this year I aimed to strengthen the unit with two additional demonstrations.

Using Chemical Mysteries (in the IB) Chemistry Classroom

Inspired by Tom Kuntzleman*, I started using mysteries in my chemistry curriculum this past year. The first mystery I shared with my students was burning water. While my magician skills aren't perfect, I was able to get the students asking questions and proposing hypotheses. For my IB students, it really allowed me to delve into a number of topics (e.g. combustion, intermolecular forces, polarity, density). And thus an idea was born: Using one mystery per topic. In this blog post I'll discuss my beginning effort to find or develop a mystery for each topic within the IB Chemistry curriculum.

One teacher's attempt to use BCA Tables for Stoichiometry

The thermal decomposition of copper II carbonate basic

In this blog post I'll describe a recent attempt at using BCA Tables for teaching stoichiometry. I discuss the method I used with one introductory chemistry class to teach both the algorithm method and BCA tables to learn more about a technique I've been curious about for a while.