JCE 93.04 April 2016 Issue Highlights

Chemists Celebrate Earth Day

The April 2016 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available  to subscribers. In honor of Earth Day 2016, the April issue includes a variety of content that provides ideas and suggestions for bringing environmental chemistry to students on the topics of: water quality; climate science and greenhouse gases; atmospheric chemistry; sustainability, green chemistry, and environmental awareness; and energy storage technology. Also in the issue are articles on: outreach and public understanding; teaching organic chemistry; physical chemistry; exploring biochemistry with proteins; research experiences in the laboratory; educational resources.

A different way to look at heat and energy....

Each year we work on specific heat of materials and the heat of fusion of ice. These are two labs that are typical for most chemistry classrooms. Most of the experiments involve a simple calorimetry experiment that uses a styrofoam cup and provides generally good results. There tend to be a couple of key ideas with all of these experiments.

Colligative Properties in Real Life

This year in the midwest United States, winter has been a fickle friend. I haven’t seen the same amount of snow or ice as in recent years, but I still made sure I was prepared for it at our home. I went to my local big box hardware store in December and contemplated buying rock salt (NaCl), and NaCl/calcium chloride mixture, or just calcium chloride. Growing up my dad had switched entirely to calcium chloride because it was less damaging to the brick pavers leading to our porch and backyard. In fact, calcium chloride is generally much safer toward plants and soil than NaCl. Even though calcium chloride is much more expensive than rock salt (it was about twice the cost for 10 pounds more), that what’s I chose. Why?

A Thing for Chairs!

Over the past two years, I have immersed myself in designing mobile games for organic chemistry: founding a company called Alchemie and building a team to develop these games. The first of our games is called Chairs! (The exclamation point comes from the fact that an app called Chairs already existed in the AppStore.) The game Chairs! is what we call our proof-of-concept. Folks were a bit incredulous when we told them we design games that make learning organic chemistry intuitive and fun. 

Periodic Table Project

Students choose a topic and select items to incorporate into a periodic table. Students explore trends related to their own topic and relate to the trends on the actual Periodic Table of Elements.