An Elemental Understanding of Isotopes

In January of 2017, Chad Hustings wrote a blog post, Isotopes, Nuts, Bolts and Eggs, about an activity some colleagues and I had shared in a workshop at BCCE in 2016. With encouragement from many ChemEd X readers that wanted to try the activity for themselves, I am sharing more details and a student handout.

Chad wrote: 

Time required: 

About 30-40 minutes for the activity. This depends on how many balances are available to share and how many different isotopes are made for a single element. We had 5 balances for 12 or 13 teams of two students. Students can work in groups of 3 as well.

That’s What Scientists Do!

Measurement Challenge

As I began to prepare my labs for this upcoming year, I decided to put a bit of a twist on a previous density of a block lab I had used in the past entitled the Measurement Challenge that is sold by Flinn Scientific. It can also be used to find the mass of a block given the materials density and requiring students to measure and calculate the blocks volume. My added twist resulted in great scientific discourse. 

My Research: Unpacking Active Learning

group work

Does flipping the classroom actually enhance students’ learning, above and beyond just incorporating collaborative activities into classroom instruction? John Moore, one of the chemistry professors at my university, the University of Wisconsin - Madison approached me with this question. We ended up conducting a research study on one of his chemistry courses.

Especially JCE: August 2017

Cover of August 2017 issue of JCE

Erica Jacobsen shares highlights from the August 2017 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education that are of special interest to high school chemistry teachers.

An Activity to Demonstrate the Principles of Chemical Kinetics and Equilibria

A classroom activity to demonstrate the principles of chemical kinetics and equilibria and the utility of the mole concept is described here. The activity involved no hazardous materials or complex equipment and can be enjoyed and appreciated by general studies students as well as chemistry majors.

Time required: 

30 - 45 minutes of class time


Qualitative Analysis of IONS

supplies for ion qualitative analysis lab

Near the end of the school year we are all thinking about what we will do with our AP Chem students until the end of the semester. Last year I wrote about a post AP independent study activity that I use dealing with transition metal compounds. I still like it and use it. But this year I want to talk about a very involved lab that many of my colleagues are ignoring.

Chemistry in a Bottle

density bottles

Are you familiar with the dynamic density bottle experiment? This interesting experiment was invented by Lynn Higgins, and is sold by various science supply companies. Two immiscible liquids (usually salt water and isopropyl alcohol) and two different types of plastic pieces are contained within a dynamic density bottle. The plastic pieces display curious floating and sinking behavior when the bottle is shaken. 

Especially JCE: December 2016

Sharing the topics of measurement and the metric system could at first thought be seen as largely a visual endeavor. Students might measure the lengths of various objects and then convert their results from one metric prefix to another. Ditto mass or volume, with their respective measuring tools. What if the sense of touch could be incorporated to provide a different aspect of learning, beyond simply manipulating the objects?

JCE 93.11 November 2016 Issue Highlights

Journal of Chemical Education November 2016

Analytical Thinking, Analytical Action

The November 2016 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: electrochemistry; researching how assessment aids learning; using technology to teach; environmental chemistry; hands-on, minds-on activities and demonstrations; geology-inspired chemistry.