hands-on learning

“The Candle Experiment” – an Opening Exercise for General (or introductory) chemistry

candle flame

This exercise is intended as an ice-breaker for a first or second class meeting. It also serves as an introduction to physical & chemical properties and application of the macro/micro/symbolic representations of chemical phenomena. Finally, it also provides a framework to mention many of the topics to be covered in a general chem first semester course.

First Day of Chemistry: The Banning of Caffeine and Making Gummy Worms

The first day of school for me has always been daunting for my new students (in AP chemistry, where I know the kids, it’s so much easier). I want my students to know the following: -Who is this tiny person who looks like a teenager (that’d be ME, folks)? Where did she come from and why is she teaching us? -What does chemistry look like?

JCE 93.08 August 2016 Issue Highlights

Journal of Chemical Education August 2016

Endowing Inspiration

The August 2016 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: blue bottle reaction revisited; precollege professional development; chemical education research on intermolecular interactions and bonding; integrated courses; activities involving kinetics, enzymes, and gases; nanomaterial & polymer laboratories; organic synthesis; NMR teaching resources; book recommendations for summer reading.

Balancing Equations with Molecular Models

molecular model kit

I am a very firm believer that the world of physical science can be visualized and is an excellent medium for teaching students to model and to picture what happens at the molecular level. The first topic we decided to explore was balancing chemical equations. This seems like such a simple topic to chemistry teachers but I have found that it can be quite challenging for many of my inner city students. The first thing they ask me for is a list of rules that they can follow. We can discuss the problems of algorithmic teaching in a later post! For the time being let’s talk about how to get students to understand why they need to balance equations and discuss what we can call “Conservation of Atoms”.

Time required: 

50 minutes

JCE 93.07 July 2016 Issue Highlights

Journal of Chemical Education July 2016

Exploration of Instrument Design and Performance

The July 2016 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: cost-effective instrumentation, including 3D printed instruments and low-cost spectroscopy; laboratory instrumentation and equipment; effective teaching assistants in chemistry; laboratory experiments; resources for teaching; puzzles and games to introduce the periodic table.

Especially JCE: July 2016

Back to school time means back to lab time too. Students new to chemistry have a lot on their plates the first few labs—learning unfamiliar safety procedures, becoming accustomed to writing lab reports, even figuring out which glassware they’re looking for in their lab space. How can teachers help them to navigate this newness? Two articles in the July 2016 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education are useful resources for “back to lab” time.

JCE 93.06 June 2016 Issue Highlights

Journal of Chemical Education June 2016

Visualizations for Chemistry Teaching and Learning

The June 2016 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: visualizations for chemistry teaching and learning, periodic table resources for teaching visually impaired students, biochemistry in the classroom and laboratory, spectroscopy in the laboratory, commentaries on analytical chemistry topics, resources for teaching, distilling the archives: guided-inquiry experiments.

JCE 93.05 May 2016 Issue Highlights

Journal of Chemical Education May 2016 Cover

Thinking Like a Chemist

The May 2016 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: assessment & learning theories, science literacy & chemical information, engaging young chemists in chemistry, analysis of real-world samples, organic chemistry in the classroom and lab, computational chemistry in the laboratory, thermodynamics, kinetics projects, understanding hydrophobic & hydrophilic materials.