first-year undergraduate

A Thing for Chairs!

Over the past two years, I have immersed myself in designing mobile games for organic chemistry: founding a company called Alchemie and building a team to develop these games. The first of our games is called Chairs! (The exclamation point comes from the fact that an app called Chairs already existed in the AppStore.) The game Chairs! is what we call our proof-of-concept. Folks were a bit incredulous when we told them we design games that make learning organic chemistry intuitive and fun. 

Helping or Hurting?

I am teaching this summer and it is especially exciting as I am piloting the labs I wrote this spring. We are using these labs exclusively and I am collecting student feedback for each lab to help in the editing, refining, and revision process.

ELLs and Science Practices

In a , I shared my thoughts about the importance of science teachers (and all teachers, really) supporting their claims about lesson efficacy with evidence.  While this doesn’t always need to be a formal research study, it can often be valuable to publish findings that will be helpful to other science teachers.

 

How Does an Orange Peel Pop a Balloon? Chemistry, of Course!

The juice from an orange peel causes a balloon to pop.  When I first saw this effect I immediately thought to myself, “what is the chemistry involved in this experiment?” After quickly searching the web, I found several claims that a compound in orange peels called limonene (Figure 1) is responsible for this effect.  Limonene is a hydrocarbon, which means that molecules of limonene are composed of only carbon and hydrogen atoms.  Limonene is responsible for the wonderful smell of oranges, and it is a liquid at room temperature.

Simple, Small-Scale Dry Ice Explosions

A fun experiment to conduct when discussing phase diagrams is the melting of solid carbon dioxide (dry ice).  To perform this experiment, place small pieces of dry ice (carbon dioxide) in a plastic pipette, seal with a pair of pliers, and position the bulb of the sealed pi

The Intersection of Art and Chemistry

Last year I came across a link on Twitter regarding an art installation by Roger Hiorns in England titled “Seizure.” Some of you may have seen it too – a condemned flat in London was essentially sealed off and filled with more than 75,000 L of supersaturated copper sulfate solution.