Unit Conversions: The good, the bad and the ugly


Like most chemistry teachers, one of the first things I go over in the beginning of the year is unit conversions. Students come into my class with all sorts of prior knowledge concerning unit conversions; some good, some bad and some downright ugly.

Chemical Mystery #7: Curious Cans

floating cans

​Q: Does an unopened can of soda pop float or sink in water?

A: It depends!

See if you can figure out what is happening in this twist on the classic floating-and-sinking soda can experiment.

JCE 92.09—September 2015 Issue Highlights

Journal of Chemical Education September 2015 Cover

Effective Student Engagement

The September 2015 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. This issue includes articles on flipped classroom; introductory and general chemistry; organic chemistry activities; biochemistry demonstrations and labs; computer-based learning; chemical education research; from the archive: chemistry in context.

Chemical Mystery #5: How to burn water

The video displays a neat trick you can do for your students. What do you suppose is the secret behind this trick? Hint: >It has to do with chemistry!

Density "POGIL-Like" Activity

Although many students have been exposed to the concept of density before reaching my Chemistry class, I always start the year with this POGIL-like activity.

Time required: 

Approximately one hour including the debrief (I recommend holding a whole-class discussion for the summarizing questions that follow the What is density? activity and a selection of mathematical computation problems from the How can you calculate density? activity.)

Rainbows in a Glass Density Demonstration

One day during class I presented the disappearing rainbow demonstration and explained the chemistry behind it. After doing so, I had a student ask me if a particular bartending trick called “rainbow shots” was done in a manner similar to the way the disappearing rainbow demonstration is performed.