Modeling Instruction

Science Modeling Talks Podcast

This week marks the launch of a new science education podcast called, Science Modeling Talks. The podcast provides some history on the Modeling pedagogy and access to resources, as well as entertaining anecdotes from award-winning educators. The podcast is free and available on a variety of platforms.

Measurement, Uncertainty, and Significant Figures 

As high school teachers, we know that understanding how measurement works is crucial for lab skills and for understanding significant figures. We think measurement should be an easy topic for students to learn; especially because we know that teachers begin working with students in elementary school to teach these skills. However, I, and many other teachers, have spent countless hours teaching and reteaching a seemingly simple skill.

Gas Laws and Deflategate

If you are looking for ideas to create an authentic opportunity for students to apply their knowledge of gas laws while integrating some of the most important science practices, then this activity may fit your needs.

Equilibrium Snowball Fight

For dynamic equilibrium, I like to use a physical analogy that pits students against each other in a classroom-wide “snowball” fight. Not only is this activity great for building students’ conceptualization of dynamic equilibrium, it is also really fun!

DIY Whiteboards for Less Than $2.00/Each.

Whiteboards are great learning tools in a science classroom. With these instructions, you can make eight 24-in x 24-in whiteboards for less than $2.00 each! Instructions for simple whiteboard stands are included.

Elements, Compounds, and a Vocabulary Card Sort

How many of you could recite, word for word, a definition you learned in school? When you first memorized the definition, you could state “inertia is a property of matter”, or “density is mass over volume.” However, you struggled to apply it to a new situation and maybe you were unsure of how to construct a model of what it meant.

Confessions of a Part-Time Modeler

In the summer of 2016, there was a Modeling WorkshopTM for High School Chemistry just before BCCE in Colorado. I already had planned to go to BCCE, so I took the plunge. Two weeks of daily instruction and labs in student mode as well as teacher mode debriefing was exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. I left with a folder and flashdrive of curriculum resources provided by AMTA (the American Modeling Teachers Association.

Some Like it Hot

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).

Selling and Implementing Roles and Teamwork in the Classroom

I saw the process of students thinking like scientists but what I struggled with, and I imagine many others do as well, is how students work together in groups. Yes...I know it is important but is this a big battle that I want to fight? I was fortunate to meet several people who have developed some wonderful “tricks of the trade” to help students work as “teams”.