In an effort to align an old VSEPR lesson to NGSS, I told my students that we were going to look at the data available from the real molecules on the pHET simulation we were using and specifically look for patterns. Finding patterns is a cross-cutting concept; one of the three dimensions of NGSS.
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.
When describing abstract concepts like chemical bonding, it always seems to feel far too easy for both teachers and students to resort to the “wants” and “needs” of atoms. After all, we understand what it means to want, need, or like something, so it often feels appropriate (and easier) to use a relatable metaphor or subtly anthropomorphize these atoms to accommodate our students’ current reasoning abilities. While predicting the types of bonds that will form and the general idea behind how atoms bond can be answered correctly using such relatable phrases or ideas, the elephant in the room still in remains—do our students really understand why these atoms bond?
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.
Ringing in Volume 94
The January 2017 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: NMR spectroscopy; examining assessment; inquiry-based practices; cost-effective instrumentation; miscibility demonstrations; innovative laboratory experiments; from the archives: lightsticks.
In this blog post, I'll discuss how I've expanded my use of model kits within my chemistry class to help explore a variety of topics with my students.
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.
I have always struggled teaching the concept of bonding. What is a chemical bond? Is it just covalent or ionic? What about hydrogen bonds? Are those real bonds or just attractive forces pretending to be bonds? If they are not official bonds, what do we call them? How about intermolecular forces? How are those different from salt crystals that attract to other salt crystals but are called ionic bonds? How about "electronegativity"? If there is a metal nonmetal compound but it is just shy of the "cut off" for the difference between polar covalent and ionic, what type of bond is it? Essentially, as I got confused over the years, this translated into confused students and rushing on to get to the next unit in an attempt to cut my losses.
We just finished an introduction into ionic and covalent bonding. Somehow I wanted to try to figure out what they did or did not take away from the experience but because we just finished semester exams, I did not want to do another test or quiz. Instead, I tried a "card sort".
In this Activity, students compare polystrene and cornstarch packing materials ("peanuts"). Both are made of polymers, but because of their composition, they behave very differently in various solvents. Students extrapolate how these differences in behavior relate to environmental effects, such as filling landfills with non-biodegradable materials.