Scott Donnelly's blog

Chemistry of Canning: Classroom Activity Dealing with Concentrations and Molecular Structure

As autumn approaches it is that time of year to begin canning fruit like peaches. In canning light colored fruits, a chemical pretreatment is used to prevent darkening. This blog describes a classroom activity comprised of questions related to the chemistry of the pretreatment solution. The questions focus on the seminal topics of concentration and molecular structure.

Applying Chemistry Principles to COVID-19: Think-Pair-Share Questions

This post is comprised of questions (Qs) that challenge students to apply the knowledge acquired in their chemistry education to COVID-19. The questions encourage students to think across scientific disciplines, to think 'outside the box', and/or 'connect the dots'. Understanding how SARS-CoV-2 works inside the human body is every bit about chemistry as it is about biology as it is about physiology.

COVID-19: Data vs Evidence

The practice and the promulgation of science, its ideas, and knowledge acquired about how the biotic and abiotic world works depend significantly on what words are chosen to communicate scientific ideas, methods, thought, and information. This blog post looks at how a recently published NY Times article on the growing evidence that the SARS-CoV-2 virus can be transmitted via the air can be used in the classroom to promote discussion and challenge students to think about the distinction between data and evidence. If applicable, it could be expanded to also include the difference between opinion and information, if desired.

Metabolic Marvels of Bear Hibernation- Part 4

Welcome to Part 4 in a series of posts looking at the metabolic chemistry that allows a bear to opt to survive winter by not eating at all and by doing so increase its chances of dying from starvation. By the end of hibernation up to a third- and more for a pregnant bear- of a bear's pre-denning mass may have been devoured by the bear's metabolic and physiological needs. A remarkable animal. A remarkable study in biochemistry. Enjoy...

Metabolic Marvels of Bear Hibernation- Part 2

The post-Thanksgiving excessive calorie-consumption 'blues' have arrived. How is it possible to eat so much? For a bear, it's easy. Easy as pie. Bears are champion eaters, spending about half the year eating non-stop in preparation for winter's foodless landscape. How can this calorie consumption observation about the bear world be used to teach certain chemistry concepts routinely covered? This post includes discussion and two classroom activities about the following common general chemistry topics/concepts- thermochemistry, unit conversions, and interpretation of numerical data. Enjoy...

The Metabolic Marvel of Hibernating Bears

Millions of years of evolution has endowed brown (Ursus arctos) and black (Ursus americanus) bears with the enviable metabolic capacity to starve themselves for a long period of time and still survive. Truly, bears are chemist extraordinaires and their hibernation chemistry overall is arguably without equal in the mammalian world. Let's take an introductory look at what's going on.