Chemistry is difficult to learn. Walk into any chemistry classroom, and you’ll be soon confronted with many abstract concepts. Abstract ideas have no physical form, and as a result, they are difficult to understand.
Chemistry Teacher Tips and Tricks
In honor of the International Year of the Periodic Table, Tom Kuntzleman decided to write a song, sing it, and shoot an accompanying video to honor 150 years of the Periodic Table of Elements. Enjoy his song and video: Chemistry is Everywhere!
Did you figure out how the experiment in Chemical Mystery #14 was performed? The solution is presented here!
In my class, I use the illustration of a mountain to help students push through the challenges of chemistry. Stoichiometry is the top of chemistry mountain. As we progress through the year, I say things like “the mountain is getting steep here!” or “there is not a lot of oxygen up here!” or “I will carry you up chemistry mountain if I have to!” to keep students motivated. When students finally get to the top of chemistry mountain (mid quarter 3), the air is thin, they are tired and they are ready to base jump off the mountain (see illustration from a former student below).
With a desire to increase curiosity and enthusiasm in my classroom along with ideas gleaned from Twitter, I have shifted my curriculum to a lab-first approach.
Like many schools, this year my school went 1:1. Each of our students was issued an 11 inch Chromebook with a webcam. Our upperclassmen have the the older Samsung models with a front-facing webcam and our underclassmen have the new Lenovo N22/23 models with a flippable webcam. I am a “jump in head first” type of person so I decided to go completely paperless this year. Now that I am halfway through the year (and still paperless!), I wanted to share what has been working well for me and where the snags have been.
Take a look at an old favorite, the brass penny activity. There are several variations of procedural steps to be found. The safest version uses either a low concentration of NaOH or a solution of zinc chloride.
In this blog post, I share how I use an article from Dr. Peter Atkins, "Chemistry's Core Ideas." My IB Chemistry students read the article early in our program - and then revisit the article numerous times throughout our two-year course. The Google Slide document my students use is included in the supporting information.
When it comes to student laboratory/apparatus setup, one thing is sure to help—visuals. There is a free and incredibly easy tool that allows you to assemble and customize almost any chemistry related setup you wish. Say hello to Chemix!
Face to face professional development provides the opportunity for teachers to learn from and share with other teachers. This post provides an example of one of the many great ideas that I have learned from other teachers.