I usually start of the school year with a measuring activity. This year, I used Tom Kuntzleman's Mentos and Diet Coke experiment and had students use the data to do some graphing and analysis. This was a nice lead into our gas unit. I also made my own syphon coffee maker to demonstrate for my students.
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.
Given a guiding question, students determined what they wanted to test, did the experiment and got their CER boards ready for review. Instead of a regular argumentation session, we had a glow and grow session, where students had to provide positive and negative feedback for each board.
I added an extra step including a follow up Claim, Evidence & Reasoning activity to the familiar whoosh bottle activity.
A favorite demonstration is to boil water by lowering the pressure in a bell jar using a vacuum pump. Unfortunately, purchasing a bell jar, vacuum plate, and vacuum pump can run upwards of $1,000 which poses a hardship for many teachers. Here are two simple and inexpensive demonstrations of phase equilibrium and vapor pressure.
Recently, my district made a commitment to helping its teachers reflect and rethink their grading and assessment practices. One of the phrases I kept hearing throughout our staff professional development sessions was authentic assessment. I understood (and agreed with) the basic premise—create more opportunities for students to perform tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills. Doing so involves going beyond, or even potentially replacing, traditional summative assessments at the end of each unit.
Students can sometimes struggle to grasp gas behavior, as it’s much harder to visualize gases rather than readily available solutions, solids, or mixtures. Indeed, for many labs, if gas is a product, we’re often relegated to using balloons or gas columns to capture and measure the gases produced by reactions, which can be tricky or expensive. So this year, I tried something a little different when starting my intro chemistry students’ gas laws unit, and was very happy with the results.
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.
I recently watched a video in which a chemist (who goes by the nickname “NurdRage”) activated a chemiluminescent reaction by vapor deposition. I wanted to try it out for myself! Unfortunately, oxalyl chloride is toxic, corrosive, and a lachrymator. Thus, the experiment conducted by NurdRage needs to be conducted in a hood, and it is not particularly amenable to simple presentations. I began to wonder how I could create this vapor activated chemiluminescence using simple materials.
I try to examine activities an multiple levels. First on the list, I want to know if my students will be engaged and learn something. Second, how difficult is it for me as a teacher to actually pull it off? One of the most important questions...are the students learning chemistry or just having fun? This is the first year I have attempted the following activity. Students were engaged in the real world connection, they asked questions, it transitioned into some chemistry concepts and even some parents got involved. The activity involved acid, bases, pH and food.