Using "Chemical Detectives" iPad App to Practice Spectroscopy

The new IB curriculum includes compound identification using NMR, IR and Mass spectroscopy. My current high school lab does not have any of these available. And that's no surprise, given the cost of these machines is far out of our budget. And while some of you may be lucky enough to have a connection to a local university or college, for the rest of us what are the options when it comes to teaching spectroscopy?


JCE 93.01—January 2016 Issue Highlights

Kick Off 2016 with Volume 93

The January 2016 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: examining the flipped classroom; central ideas in chemistry & teaching; chemistry, art, & color; expanding student understanding; improving student communication skills; analytical chemistry & instrumental analysis; experimenting with natural products; undergraduate research experiences; educational resources; from the archive: using nonfiction to teach.

Demonstrating the Colors of Transition Metal Complex Ions

Just the other day within my IB Chemistry HL classes, we were discussing the color of transition metal complex ions in solution. It's a bit imperfect, because they are not yet dissolved, but I set up a number of metal chloride salts in order to help students see the pattern. They are arranged according to the position of the metal in the periodic table. It ends up being quite obvious to the students that the only metal salts with color are in the d-block. I'm now in the process of ordering more chloride salts so I can complete the pattern even more the next time I teach this topic.


Photoelectron Spectroscopy Special Issue Article

The new AP Chemistry curriculum is in the second year of use. Photoelectron spectroscopy (PES) is a topic that generated much discussion because it is an addition to the curriculum. Jamie Benigna of Michigan teaches AP Chemistry, is an AP reader and recently wrote an article about PES for the Journal of Chemistry Education Special Issue. The article discusses the rationale for including PES in the course, explains some background of PES and provides strategies for including PES in your own course. This article is offered as a free preview of the AP Special Issue. 

Color My Nanoworld

This Activity introduces students to the unique properties of nanoscale materials through exploration of size-dependent optical properties of gold nanoparticles. Students first prepare a solution of gold nanoparticles. They then investigate the solution’s use as an electrolyte sensor by adding a non-electrolyte and a strong electrolyte, and observing any resulting color changes.

Investigating the Invisible: Attenuation of Radio Waves

In this Activity, students investigate properties of radiation using a handheld radio. Students compare the abilities of conductive and dielectric materials to attenuate or block, radio waves, and compare the attenuation of AM versus FM radio waves. The radio is placed inside different objects and students record which materials blocked or attenuated the waves.

Colors in Liquid Crystals

In this Activity, students investigate the relationship between temperature and composition and the reflected and transmitted colors of a common nanoscale material, the cholesteric liquid crystal.