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The Two Words Every Chemistry Student Needs to Learn

student whiteboard using "for every"

Teaching students the proportional reasoning skills needed for stoich doesn’t have to be that daunting. By adjusting how your students talk about stoich, you will adjust how they think about it; eventually, they’ll proportionally reason in a more effective manner.

This post was submitted for the 2017 ChemEd X Call for Contributions: Creating a Classroom Culture.

Dance Your Final Project

Dance Your Final image

As part of advocating science literacy in my classroom, I have my 10th grade Honors Chemistry students dance their first semester final. This Dance Your Final semester final is to force students to actually read real, published scientific research; have a group final; eliminate test anxiety; and help students have fun with the content. Truly, of all assignments I give during the school year, this is the one that students say they sweat the hardest on, enjoy the most, and are the most proud of their work.

Stop trying to get your students interested in chemistry!

roasting coffee bean research project

Because my teaching philosophy assumes that both quality and quantity of learning increases with interest in subject matter, I have spent years exploring ways to engage my students in chemistry (of course fire, explosions, and color changing reactions are certainly helpful). I have recently begun using an approach that I have found to be quite fruitful, albeit counterintuitive: I don’t try to get my students interested in chemistry. You read that right. I don’t try to interest my students in chemistry. Rather, I get to know the hobbies and interests of my students. Then I work to demonstrate how chemistry relates to those activities.

This post was submitted for the 2017 ChemEd X Call for Contributions: Creating a Classroom Culture.

Classroom Culture - Experiment on Day 1

Fortune Teller Fish

What is the very first impression that I want to make on students? Do I want to pass out a bunch of papers about the syllabus, rules and policies? Do I want kids to be thinking and acting like scientists? Deep down inside, my hope is always for the second idea. I decided to steal an idea I got from master chemistry teacher Linda Ford at an local ACS meeting. Linda introduced a group of teachers to the "Miracle Fortune Teller Fish".

This post was submitted for the 2017 ChemEd X Call for Contributions: Creating a Classroom Culture.

Building Buy-In Through a Growth Mindset Classroom Culture

Mindset poster

When you incorporate non-traditional pedagogies and grading systems into your classroom like Modeling Instruction and standards-based grading, you need to be concerned about buy-in from students and parents. Implementation without buy-in leads to frustrated students, parents and most of all teachers. I have saved myself from this frustration by establishing a growth-mindset classroom culture from day one. Here are my tips for building a classroom where students feel comfortable to fail.

Editors Note: This post was submitted for the 2017 ChemEd X Call for Contributions: Creating a Classroom Culture.

JCE 94.08 August 2017 Issue Highlights

JCE August 2017 Cover

Teaching Chemistry from Rich Contexts

The August 2017 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: visualizing the chemistry of climate change; environmental chemistry; chemistry education for medical preprofessionals; tools for learning and student engagement; training laboratory teaching assistants; biochemistry; forensic chemistry; nanoparticle experiments; materials science; resources for teaching; from the archives: climate change.

SAFER SCI: Be Protected!

unsafe storage of chemicals

As we all know, research and general educational practice clearly indicates that students learn science best by doing it – not just reading about it. Hands-on, process and inquiry based science is the key to understanding science. Unfortunately, this is a double edged sword for science teachers in that doing science has its potential hazards and resulting risks. Science laboratories, classrooms and field work sites can be unsafe places to teach and learn. If a student gets hurt while doing an activity in the lab, in the field or even at home if it was a teacher’s assignment, there is potential shared liability for both the teacher and the school. 

Great Science Geek Gear

Megan Lee Studios

Megan was watching a show about Nicola Tesla. She was so impressed that afterwards she decided Nicola needed an "emblem". She made one, put it on her Etsy site and the rest is history. The response was great and an idea was born. Nicola was the first of many emblems.  Megan said she is not sure if she is a nerd who loves art or an artist who embraced her inner geek. Either way, her stickers, posters, t-shirts, flashcards and designs are super cool.

CHEMED 2017

ChemEd X swag

ChemEd X is preparing for CHEMED 2017! If you are attending the conference, we hope you will stop by our booth in the exhibit hall and introduce yourself.

DIY Vapor Catalyzed Chemiluminescence

glow sticks and filter paper

I recently watched a video in which a chemist (who goes by the nickname “NurdRage”) activated a chemiluminescent reaction by vapor deposition. I wanted to try it out for myself! Unfortunately, oxalyl chloride is toxic, corrosive, and a lachrymator. Thus, the experiment conducted by NurdRage needs to be conducted in a hood, and it is not particularly amenable to simple presentations. I began to wonder how I could create this vapor activated chemiluminescence using simple materials.