high school chemistry

Build Your Own Hoffman Apparatus

Chad Hustings blogged this past school year about building his own Hoffman apparatus for each group of students. I have been using a Hoffman apparatus that had been purchased by my district before I began teaching there over 20 years ago to demonstrate electrolysis of water, but providing each student group with the ability to perform an electrolysis themselves is a powerful activity. I have used a different version of a homemade Hoffman apparatus, but after reading Chad's blog post, I decided to use a version close to his.  

Time required: 

If the Hoffman apparatus is built ahead of time (this takes about 5 minutes for each one if the teacher builds them), then the activity and discussion should take less than a 45 minute period.  

Great Science Geek Gear

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.

Especially JCE: July 2017

Erica Jacobsen shares highlights from the July 2017 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education that are of special interest to high school chemistry teachers.

JCE 94.07 July 2017 Issue Highlights

Journal of Chemical Education July 2017 Cover

Encouraging and Supporting Community of Effort

The July 2017 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: artificial photosynthesis; developing laboratory skills through technology; using videos to enhance learning; smartphones in the laboratory; 3D printing as a teaching resource; exploring and understanding structure; making chemistry connections; research on inquiry; from the archives: elephant's toothpaste.

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.

Nerdy Science Shirt Friday

author wearing nerdy shirt

Over the past 30 years, numerous articles have been written about the importance of student teacher relationships. The National Education Association, NEA, offers advice for beginning teachers that includes establishing the classroom climate, conducting class efficiently, and reaching all students. When teachers effectively connect to their students, discipline problems decrease and student engagement increases.

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

Increasing Access to Stoichiometry Through Differentiated In-Class Practice

In a recent post, I shared sample quiz questions as to how I have differentiated assessment within the mole unit. Here, I share a specific multi-day sequence within the stoichiometry unit. I have written extensively about the project that drives this unit (within the following blog posts: Why consider trying project based learning?, Backwards planning your PBL unit -­ An Overview of an Entire Unit and What ARE my students actually learning during this long term project (PBL)?), but very little about specific learning tasks. Below is a two day sequence of stoichiometry practice that I set up in my classroom. Stations are set up around the room and students rotate as necessary.

Time required: 

POGIL: ~1 hour

Lecture: ~30 minutes

Mastery check, differentiated practice, project planning: ~2 hours

Chemical Mystery #10: Out of the Blue!

the demo in action

In this simple trick, colors are made to "magically" appear and disappear on a straw. This science experiment is very easy to do...if you know your chemistry!

Selling and Implementing Roles and Teamwork in the Classroom

roles and teamwork

I saw the process of students thinking like scientists but what I struggled with, and I imagine many others do as well, is how students work together in groups. Yes...I know it is important but is this a big battle that I want to fight? I was fortunate to meet several people who have developed some wonderful “tricks of the trade” to help students work as “teams”.