Red dye #40 found in strawberry Kool-Aid and various cloth fibers can be used in a very simple experiment that can teach students about intermolecular forces. A video is included that describes the experiment and analysis of results.
Is it possible to use materials found in high school chemistry labs to extract and subsequently detect cocaine on dollar bills? Let me know what you think after reading this blog post!
In the article “Reactions Catalyzed by an Assault on a Favorite Principle”1, Emeric Schultz (who incidentally taught me General Chemistry, was my undergraduate advisor, and is now a dear friend and colleague) argues the following:
“Although I have read and heard about ‘big ideas’ in chemistry, I have never seen a commensurate effort to work toward a high school chemistry program that starts from…big ideas and works down.”
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!