laboratory instruction

Compiling Student Data

Excel file for compiling student data

To assist in grading the lab results for this and other quantitative labs that we did, I created Excel spreadsheets where the students’ results could be entered. The spreadsheet then did all the required calculations and compared the students’ results to the theoretical value. This made grading the lab reports much quicker and more accurate, flagged incorrect student calculations, allowed a much more complete discussion of the lab results and permitted “what if” questions to be discussed.

Shorten Grading Time with this Stoichiometry Tool

Image of a chemistry themed clock

As many chemistry teachers know, grading lab reports can be a very time-consuming task. For me, the lab report that has required the most time to grade is a stoichiometry lab that I have been doing the past couple years. Though we do at least four “formal” lab reports each year, what makes this one different is that it involves a lot more calculations and subsequent results than any of our other labs. Regardless of how well they organized their report or wrote their conclusions, their results need to be checked for accuracy. This takes time. Even after eventually being able to generally eyeball their work, it still takes more time than I would like. So, this year I finally decided to sit down and generate a tool for me to expedite this process—the stoichiometry calculator.

JCE 94.04 April 2017 Issue Highlights

Journal of Chemical Education April 2017 Cover

Resources To Inform Teaching and Learning

The April 2017 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: green chemistry; environmental chemistry; using food chemistry to teach; 2016 Jame Bryant Award; development of important skills; chemical education research: assessment; advanced laboratories; from the archives: water quality.

Hydrates Take 2

hydrate lab

My students and I tend to have good experiences with a hydrate inquiry lab that I have "tweaked" (see the previous blog). Essentially, my students have some practice with hydrates in the lab and then they are provided an unknown hydrate. They must separate off the water by heating and calculate the mass of the anhydrous salt and container before they come up and put it on the scale. As an added twist, they must also ask me a question about what information they need from me to calculate the mole to mole ratio of the salt to water.

JCE 94.03 March 2017 Issue Highlights

Journal of Chemical Education March 2017 Cover

Promoting Problem-Solving and Discovery Learning

The March 2017 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: protein chemistry; making connections in in chemical education research; chemical bonding; importance of non-technical skills; courses built on reactivity; periodic table; heterocyclic compounds; teaching resources; from the archives: Using Wikipedia and Wikis to teach.

AP Chemistry Lab Notebook Structure

How do you support growth in your students’ writing and communication over time? There are so many things: Claim, Evidence, Reasoning (CER) scaffolds, sentence starters, and more. How might all of these tools used in introductory courses come together in an upper-level course? In this post, I will focus upon my AP Chemistry lab notebook set-up.

BEAKER - Mix Chemicals

Beaker app logo

This week, one of my students alerted me to some mobile apps featuring chemistry. One, in particular, seems to be mostly free and incorporates a hands-on approach to conducting virtual laboratory experiments. The app is called BEAKER - Mix Chemicals and is offered by THIX on the Apple and Google Play Stores. My student demonstrated how the app works and I gotta say - it's pretty sleek.

JCE 94.02 February 2017 Issue Highlights

Journal of Chemical Education February 2017 Cover

Fostering Creativity in Chemistry

The February 2017 online issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available to subscribers. Topics featured include: surface chemistry; chemical identity thinking; conceptual understanding; communicating science to the general public; activities and labs linking chemistry and art; history and chemistry; early access to research; technology as instructional support; synthesis laboratories; from the archives: bottle chemistry.

The Case of the Barking Dog

hydrogen test

To grasp the concept of oxidation and reduction reactions, I have my high school students write half reactions to show the loss and gain of electrons by the substances being oxidized and reduced. To help with this concept, I developed a quick lab activity involving the reaction between magnesium metal and dilute hydrochloric acid, which in turn led to the students collecting the hydrogen gas and then testing for its presence.

Time required: 

50 minutes