Atomic Structure

The Mystery of Matter: Search for the Elements video series

If your not familiar with the video series "The Mystery of Matter, Search for the Elements" then I highly recommend their use as part of your curriculum. The Mystery of Matter: Search for the Elements is a PBS series about the amazing human story behind the Periodic Table. The videos, most of them 4-12 minutes long, draw on the interviews, re-enactments, animations and photographs that were shot and collected for the PBS series, with supplementary animations and images as needed. In all, the videos make up about three hours of programming. I shared several of the video clips with my high school students and they really seemed to enjoy them mentioning the reason was because the videos were done using actors to tell the stories and it was similar to watching a movie.

Clarifying Electron Configurations

We’ve all seen and use the so-called Aufbau Diagram. It is a mnemonic used to remember the order of “filling” of atomic orbitals during the construction of the ground state electron configurations of the elements. The presentation of this diagram is largely disconnected from any physical meaning. Here’s what we tell our students: “Memorize the diagram, learn to use it, and you’re guaranteed to get the right answer.”

Target Inquiry Activities

Are kids learning? Given the time it takes to implement and grade the activity, do I get a lot of "educational moments" out of it? Does it fit into the culture of the classroom? Is there a great deal of "conceptually rich" material in the activity that students can build on? I believe that two activities I tried this week fit the bill.

Veritasium in the Modeling Classroom

Modeling InstructionTM is specifically designed so students construct meaning without being told what to think and I needed videos that aligned with this philosophy.  That’s when I ran across this TedEd talk with Dr. Derek Muller.

Representing the Macroscopic, Particulate, Symbolic, & Real World Representations of Chemical Reactions.

 Last year while attending the Biennial Conference on Chemical Education at GVSU I had the opportunity to hear a talk that showed a video of a chemical demonstration showing the burning of magnesium metal.  We have all seen many of these videos (thank you YouTube) and probably have performed this demo for our own students many times.  During the video it may have been represented with a chemical equation followed by the students being asked to balance the equation or maybe even predict the products.  Although the use of video including the showing of the equation nicely represents the macroscopic and symbolic representation, what was so unique about this particular video is that it also included the particulate representation embedded on top of the video of the demo.  This was the first time I had seen the particulate level representation done like that and so I was intrigued in wanting to find more of these representations.  

Turning on the Light

In this Activity, students investigate the luminescent properties of common items such as glow-in-the-dark stickers, wintergreen-flavored hard candies, and a chlorophyll solution made from spinach leaves. After making observations, they use a flowchart to categorize the luminescent items as fluorescent, phosphorescent, or triboluminescent.

Using Orbital Viewer

Orbital Viewer is a fantastic program for displaying electronic orbitals. It is a great resource for teaching students about orbital shapes and the rules, nomenclature and notation of the quantum numbers n, l and m.