Here is what I told my students as we were studying gas laws. I have a bag of potato chips at see level and then I go to Denver where the pressure is less? What happens? Draw and build a model on your whiteboard.
Science Practice: Developing and Using Models
A quick search on Amazon for a package of 144 ping pong balls and a trip to the arts and crafts store for paint, magnets, and glue and I was ready to start making my own class set of model kits.
A complete understanding of why each element has a particular electronic configurations is a very complex subject. Even so, some confusion regarding the electronic configurations of the elements may be alleviated by looking at the physical properties of the electronic orbitals.
If you look at any chemistry textbook, you will see Lewis structures introduced long before electronic and molecular geometries. This makes sense since you need Lewis structures to determine molecular geometry. Unfortunately, research has shown that students often do not recognize that the purpose of drawing Lewis structures is not to create the structure itself but to use it as tool to understand the properties of the molecule (Cooper, Grove, Underwood & Klymkowsky, 2010).
This past summer our conversations turned to, “How can we improve our instruction to try and prevent the initial misunderstanding?” We had all read Dorothy Gabel’s article Improving Teaching and Learning Through Chemistry Education Research: A Look to the Future. We were intrigued by the author's description of the three fold system of representing concepts in chemistry.
I hate to sound like a broken record but I used two activities from Grand Valley State Target Inquiry Program that worked amazingly well and had a great "flow". Chad Bridle wrote two inquiry activities that dovetail together. The first is "Change You Can Believe In". Students are presented first with nine cards that are particulate drawings of changes that occur in matter.
Last year, I worked hard to teach my students how to fail and I believe it was the most important lesson they could have taken away from my class.
Through a series of three blog posts, I’d like to share my thoughts about these scientific practices and how we might communicate about these practices to middle and high school students. I’d love to hear your thoughts along the way! Let’s start with model building…
As the trimester comes to an end, I have the chance to reflect with my chemistry students and ask them about course likes and dislikes. A major "like" that came out was the use of the Expo brand neon markers. I had heard about their use from Brian Bennett @bennettscience and how well they show up on the black lab tables.