general public

Jenelle Ball - An Inspirational Awardee

I met Jenelle Ball in Denver, CO at the Spring 2015 National ACS meeting. She is soft spoken and engaging. Jenelle’s biographical information is impressive. She earned a BS and MS in chemistry. While in graduate school, she recognized a passion for the process of teaching and learning which led her to teach high school chemistry. Most of her career has been spent at Chico Senior High School in Chico, CA. She was also fortunate to have the opportunity to take a rare sabbatical from high school teaching and earn a MA degree in teaching and learning.

Geometric Approach to Lewis Structures

If you look at any chemistry textbook, you will see Lewis structures introduced long before electronic and molecular geometries. This makes sense since you need Lewis structures to determine molecular geometry. Unfortunately, research has shown that students often do not recognize that the purpose of drawing Lewis structures is not to create the structure itself but to use it as tool to understand the properties of the molecule (Cooper, Grove, Underwood & Klymkowsky, 2010).

Coding in Chemistry

Computer coding has been getting a lot of attention with the Hour of Code movement and President Obama’s recent “Computer Science for All” initiative. Just like it is no longer solely the job of the English teacher to teach language and communication skills, it is no longer solely the job of the computer science teacher to teach programming skills.

Not All Periodic Tables are the Same?

Upon sharing my array of apps with some future chemistry teachers, they asked why so many Periodic Tables? My response was “Well not all periodic tables are the same”, upon which was followed by several blank stares...Let me explain: I currently have the following periodic table apps loaded on my iPad...

Tell Me a Story

Just as our lives and various circumstances have a story, so do our laboratory experiences. Often the labs we do lack context but we expect students to buy in to the experiment without knowing the what, where, or why of the story. What makes this lab worth doing? What question(s) are we trying to answer? Why was someone exploring this in the first place?

Colligative Properties in Real Life

This year in the midwest United States, winter has been a fickle friend. I haven’t seen the same amount of snow or ice as in recent years, but I still made sure I was prepared for it at our home. I went to my local big box hardware store in December and contemplated buying rock salt (NaCl), and NaCl/calcium chloride mixture, or just calcium chloride. Growing up my dad had switched entirely to calcium chloride because it was less damaging to the brick pavers leading to our porch and backyard. In fact, calcium chloride is generally much safer toward plants and soil than NaCl. Even though calcium chloride is much more expensive than rock salt (it was about twice the cost for 10 pounds more), that what’s I chose. Why?

Still I Rise: A Student Perspective

In this blog post, I’ve asked Natalie about her journey as a woman of color along the path toward a future in a STEM field. I can’t begin to understand her perspective, so I’ve asked her to lend her voice to this issue. I believe it is important that we, as educators, take some time to reflect on what she has to say. Sometimes, the things we don’t say are resonating just as loudly as the things we do.

POGIL, Posting Keys Online, Cheating and Checkpoints

We had just had some snow days and I had the feeling that I was getting behind. In one class we were approaching the topic of orbital diagrams and electron configurations. I was tempted to just say, "Here are the notes." Sometimes there is nothing wrong with that. This time, something was eating at me. Instead I picked a POGIL (link is external) from the "High School Chemistry" (link is external) book that presented the ideas through guided inquiry.