Finding Flash Rocks

Flash rocks were discussed in a previous post as stones made of quartz that produce light by triboluminescence when struck together. This post provides some description of their origins and tips on how to find them, making connections to some of their properties.

Paper Snowflakes to Model Flat Symmetrical Molecules

Flat, symmetrical molecules can be modeled by folding a sheet of paper, cutting patterns into the folded structure, and unfolding to produce the flat paper models. The finished models resemble paper snowflakes, but have a variety of rotational symmetries. Template patterns for several molecules are available for download in the Supporting Information.

A Polystyrene Model of Polystyrene Tacticity

Thin sheets of polystyrene can be patterned with permanent markers to represent repeating units of the polymer and then shrunk down in size using heat. The shrunken models of the repeating units can be connected with a string and then flipped into positions to demonstrate different types of polymer tacticity.

Microplastics, Liquid Nitrogen, and Iodine: Polystyrene vs. Starch Foam Packing Peanuts

The differing electrostatic and solubility properties of starch and polystyrene foam packing peanuts are used in various demonstrations to describe aspects of microplastics and their interactions with the environment. Their differing responses to exposure to liquid nitrogen and iodine solutions are also described.

A Manipulative Paper Tool for Teaching Organic Nomenclature: Part 3- Common Names of Major Classes of Organic Compounds

This is the third in a series of classroom activities using paper tools to teach organic nomenclature. This post covers the two common naming systems used for carboxylic acids and derivatives, and second for alcohols, thiols, ethers, amines, and ketones.

A Manipulative Paper Tool for Teaching Simple Organic Nomenclature: Part 2, IUPAC Naming of Major Classes of Organic Compounds

To help introduce students to organic nomenclature in a way that clearly summarizes the patterns that exist in the IUPAC system, a series of paper tools were developed. The paper tool in this activity can be used to introduce the IUPAC naming of major classes of organic compounds. These paper tools are easy to print and distribute to every student each semester.