high school chemistry

JCE 95.04 April 2018 Issue Highlights

Placing Chemistry into a World Context

The April 2018 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: service-learning, safety, investigating student understanding of solutions, environmental chemistry, green chemistry, waste management, acid-base chemistry, natural products, materials science, activities and laboratory investigations, teaching resources, diving into the archives: marine chemistry.

March Madness with the Periodic Table

I ran a multi-day poll on Twitter that was designed to be a fun way to determine the “best” element on the periodic table. I’m sharing about the poll here on ChemEdX in case others might want to try something similar in their classrooms. The poll was run tournament-style, fashioned after NCAA Basketball’s March Madness. The event was called #MarchMatterMadness. Just like basketball’s March Madness tournament, four different “regions” were set up, and each element was seeded into brackets according to atomic number.

BCCE 2018 REGISTRATION is now OPEN

he Biennial Conference on Chemical Education (BCCE) will be held at Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana from July 29 through August 2, 2018. This is an excellent professional development opportunity for high school and college chemistry instructors.

What is Reasoning?

I attended a professional development session on the NGSS earlier this week by Brett Moulding and Nicole Paulson based on the book they wrote with Rodger Bybee, A Vision and Plan for Science Teaching and Learning. The authors propose the “gathering-reasoning-communicating” (GRC) structure as a simplified way of thinking about the Science and Engineering Practices. Reasoning is the keystone of the GRC structure and the primary thing we want science students to be doing. “Gathering” provides the raw materials for reasoning and “communicating” helps us know that reasoning has taken place.

Using Phenomenon-Based Inquiry to Begin Gas Law Study in an Introductory High School Chemistry Course

Students can sometimes struggle to grasp gas behavior, as it’s much harder to visualize gases rather than readily available solutions, solids, or mixtures. Indeed, for many labs, if gas is a product, we’re often relegated to using balloons or gas columns to capture and measure the gases produced by reactions, which can be tricky or expensive. So this year, I tried something a little different when starting my intro chemistry students’ gas laws unit, and was very happy with the results – start with an inquiry approach, allowing students to discover gas laws on their own, thanks to easily producible gas phenomena in the lab.

Some Like it Hot

In my class, I use the illustration of a mountain to help students push through the challenges of chemistry. Stoichiometry is the top of chemistry mountain. As we progress through the year, I say things like “the mountain is getting steep here!” or “there is not a lot of oxygen up here!” or “I will carry you up chemistry mountain if I have to!” to keep students motivated. When students finally get to the top of chemistry mountain (mid quarter 3), the air is thin, they are tired and they are ready to base jump off the mountain (see illustration from a former student below).