Science Practice: Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

Gibbs Free Energy Analogy

A common topic in chemistry discussion groups and forums is about the use of the terms “spontaneous reaction” versus “thermodynamic favorability”. This is a new activity for chemistry students who struggle with the correlation between changes in enthalpy, temperature, entropy, and the Gibbs free energy of a system; which relies on an analogy that most students will be familiar with.

Mole Unit Mini-Practicums

We all know how fundamental the mole concept is for stoichiometry. This year I brainstormed ways to really make it stick. I decided to do multiple mini-practicums, one for each learning target of the mole unit. I am sharing brief descriptions of the mini-practicums I did for each learning target.

The Density Bottle Strikes Again

Density Bottles can be used to teach a variety of chemical concepts such as density, solubility, and polarity. In this post it is shown that Density Bottles can also be used to differentiate between heterogeneous and homogeneous mixtures, and to explore light scattering.    

Using Chemical Mysteries (in the IB) Chemistry Classroom

Inspired by Tom Kuntzleman*, I started using mysteries in my chemistry curriculum this past year. The first mystery I shared with my students was burning water. While my magician skills aren't perfect, I was able to get the students asking questions and proposing hypotheses. For my IB students, it really allowed me to delve into a number of topics (e.g. combustion, intermolecular forces, polarity, density). And thus an idea was born: Using one mystery per topic. In this blog post I'll discuss my beginning effort to find or develop a mystery for each topic within the IB Chemistry curriculum.