The genesis of this paper started with a request from a former student, Thomas Kuntzleman, now a professor of chemistry. He asked if I would consider submitting my thoughts about ‘big ideas’ in chemistry. In his email he attached a paper that I had written for the Journal of Chemical Education six years earlier1. That article was submitted the year after I retired and was a response to a submission questioning the utility of the Principle of Le Châtelier.
It was the empty terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach at 9:30 at night that really bothered me as I am wading through the stack of papers that I was grading. I had the students do experiments, worksheets, I lectured and there was homework. Some of the students could “do” what I thought was science. They could calculate the answer. They could balance the equation.
Like most chemistry teachers, one of the first things I go over in the beginning of the year is unit conversions. Students come into my class with all sorts of prior knowledge concerning unit conversions; some good, some bad and some downright ugly.
This summer I had the opportunity to attend my first Biennial Conference on Chemical Education (BCCE) in Greeley, Colorado. When I first expressed interest in this conference more than one fellow high school educator told me some version of, “Don’t bother with that. It’s a bunch of stuff for college professors, it won’t be of use to you.” Nothing could have been further from the truth. Yes, much of the programming is directed at a higher-education audience, but many of the workshops and symposia have something to offer for precollege educators and there is a very vibrant and continually growing strand of high-school specific programing.
I display and live a class motto in order to give a framework to the scientific intent of my community of learners. My particular motto is a quote from Freeman Dyson: "Science is an objective struggle between the precision of tools and the ambiguities of nature."
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I am sitting in Greeley Colorado. It is the first day of the 2016 BCCE. Time to get my learn on! I have spent the last week pouring over the schedule and deciding what I want to attend and a huge problem has developed. I am double booked almost every day!
Attending BCCE? Check out details of our schedule and booth to find us there!
Q: Does an unopened can of soda pop float or sink in water?
A: It depends!
See if you can figure out what is happening in this twist on the classic floating-and-sinking soda can experiment.
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.