How do teachers encourage building individual lab skills in classes of over 30 students where labs are done in groups of five or six students? My science department collaborates daily, and we have been discussing this concern for a few years now. Many trials and errors have occurred.
Engaging Student Interest and Inquiry
The September 2016 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: copper chemistry; safety; using brewing to teach chemistry; 3D-printed models; learning using games; open-ended approaches to teaching; innovative methods to teach biochemistry; polymer chemistry; organic synthesis labs; teaching physical chemistry; chemistry field trips.
Just this week I'm reviewing equilibrium with my IB Chemistry seniors after they finished some summer study on the topic. One of our classes was spent manipulating a classic equilibrium involving copper ions and a copper-chloride complex ion.
Approximately 45-60 minutes is usually enough time to complete all six test tubes, and to answer most of the questions and have some discussion about the results.
The August 2016 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: blue bottle reaction revisited; precollege professional development; chemical education research on intermolecular interactions and bonding; integrated courses; activities involving kinetics, enzymes, and gases; nanomaterial & polymer laboratories; organic synthesis; NMR teaching resources; book recommendations for summer reading.
I am a very firm believer that the world of physical science can be visualized and is an excellent medium for teaching students to model and to picture what happens at the molecular level. The first topic we decided to explore was balancing chemical equations. This seems like such a simple topic to chemistry teachers but I have found that it can be quite challenging for many of my inner city students. The first thing they ask me for is a list of rules that they can follow. We can discuss the problems of algorithmic teaching in a later post! For the time being let’s talk about how to get students to understand why they need to balance equations and discuss what we can call “Conservation of Atoms”.
One of my biggest struggles with students is to try to explain what happens when items, specific inorganic salts, dissolve in water. It might sound simple to me and you. Research shows that students have many real misconceptions when it comes to explaining inorganic salts dissolving in water. My own experience along with other teachers I know is that we are amazed and sometimes frustrated with trying to help students understand the simple process of dissolving, especially with ions. A key piece of equipment is a good conductivity tester. Just got done making a stack of them and can't wait to have students try them. But back to "dissolving"....
Exploration of Instrument Design and Performance
The July 2016 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: cost-effective instrumentation, including 3D printed instruments and low-cost spectroscopy; laboratory instrumentation and equipment; effective teaching assistants in chemistry; laboratory experiments; resources for teaching; puzzles and games to introduce the periodic table.
Back to school time means back to lab time too. Students new to chemistry have a lot on their plates the first few labs—learning unfamiliar safety procedures, becoming accustomed to writing lab reports, even figuring out which glassware they’re looking for in their lab space. How can teachers help them to navigate this newness? Two articles in the July 2016 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education are useful resources for “back to lab” time.
Visualizations for Chemistry Teaching and Learning
The June 2016 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: visualizations for chemistry teaching and learning, periodic table resources for teaching visually impaired students, biochemistry in the classroom and laboratory, spectroscopy in the laboratory, commentaries on analytical chemistry topics, resources for teaching, distilling the archives: guided-inquiry experiments.
This past week, as part of our Thermochemistry unit, my students were completing one of my favorite Target Inquiry Labs entitled “ A Very Cool Investigation”. We were using calorimeters, dissolving ammonium nitrate, and my students were recording the change in temperature using a digital thermometer. Some of my students had noticed that with si