I have been using magnets of elements and subatomic particles for some time to help my students visualize what is happening at the particle level of chemistry. I now have more tools to use and I hope you follow me and explore what we can do with them to help our students.
Science Practice: Developing and Using Models
With few materials available to complete wet labs in my school, I have to be creative with covering lab concepts in my AP chemistry course. I was looking for a way to make sure my students were getting the idea of the macroscopic changes that take place in a galvanic cell without necessarily being able to do the wet lab. The particulate model that is part of the Energizer Lab inspired me to write an end of unit assignment for my students using Stop Motion video apps.
Have you ever seen the liquid nitrogen cloud? Do you wonder how the cloud forms when hot water is thrown onto liquid nitrogen? This post explores the liquid nitrogen cloud and possible explanations for its formation.
Use Mega M&Ms, M&Ms minis, and regular M&M’s in this activity to examine the concept of isotopes and average atomic mass. The color of the M&M’s represent that they are the same element and have the same number of protons. The size represents, in a relative sense, the different numbers of neutrons.
Organic Chemistry is overlooked as a first year chemistry topic in most areas, but it can be a very valuable and fun experience for students. This is an activity that can be used to introduce students to functional groups.
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!
Like most concepts in chemistry, intermolecular forces takes a bit of imagination and critical thinking to fully comprehend and apply when explaining a variety of situations. Though demonstrating the presence of these forces in a simple and explicit manner can easily be done, I wanted to change how I introduced IMFs a bit this year by focusing on a more data-to-concepts approach.
Determination of Lewis Dot structures and visualization of the shapes of molecules using VSEPR theory is an example of an abstract concept that students often find difficult to learn. I have found it useful to have a single worksheet/packet that my students can add to as we cover Lewis dot structures, resonance, VSEPR shapes, polarity, and intermolecular forces.
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.
Did you know there is a simple test you can do to see if an alkaline battery is fresh or dead? All you need to do is bounce the bottom of a battery onto a hard, flat surface. Guess what causes this difference in bouncing ability between fresh and dead batteries? Chemistry, of course!