In an effort to align my lessons with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), I have tried to take the content I have traditionally taught, and shift the design to focus on student engagement with the science and engineering practices outlined in the standards. For the topic of heat transfer I re-packaged the ice melting blocks discrepant event as a NGSS investigative phenomena.
The December 2017 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: functional nanomaterials and chemical detection; improving student performance; peer-led instruction; simulations and computer-based learning; engaging and interactive instruction; synthesis laboratories; NMR spectroscopy and mass spectrometry; innovative physical chemistry investigations; ConfChem Conference on select 2016 BCCE presentations; from the archives: music and chemistry.
Beyond Appearances: Students’ Misconceptions about Basic Chemical Ideas on the Royal Society of Chemistry’s website has proven a wonderfully handy document to have around. The report is the work of Dr. Vanessa Kind of Durham University (formerly of The University of London) and briefly summarizes student misconceptions and possible pedagogical remedies in eleven different content areas.
I want to share a measuring activity for you to consider. First, start with two baseballs. The first baseball is a regular baseball. The other baseball is called a "small ball". Next, get six to eight students to volunteer. Without talking at all the students must hold the normal baseball and the small ball. They then must decide if the normal ball has more, less or the same mass as the small ball.
In Chemical Mystery #10, plastic straws are observed to “magically” change color when waved in the air. Check out the explanation and the video.
In this simple trick, colors are made to "magically" appear and disappear on a straw. This science experiment is very easy to do...if you know your chemistry!
I will share how I use the Target Inquiry activity, Change You Can Believe In. I have realized that I need to include particulate models within the assessments after the lab to fully evaluate my student's conceptual understanding.
When describing abstract concepts like chemical bonding, it always seems to feel far too easy for both teachers and students to resort to the “wants” and “needs” of atoms. After all, we understand what it means to want, need, or like something, so it often feels appropriate (and easier) to use a relatable metaphor or subtly anthropomorphize these atoms to accommodate our students’ current reasoning abilities. While predicting the types of bonds that will form and the general idea behind how atoms bond can be answered correctly using such relatable phrases or ideas, the elephant in the room still in remains—do our students really understand why these atoms bond?
I found a version of this demonstration online a couple of years ago. I admit, when I first tried it with my class it was mostly for a crowd pleaser to demonstrate the activity series of metals, but I then became very intrigued by the processes occurring. The original source only referenced the “single replacement reaction” between Mg(s) and AgNO3(aq). Therefore, when I saw a grayish product (silver) I was not surprised. However, I was surprised by the white flash and the production of a white product, which were reminiscent of the classic combustion of magnesium demonstration. This led to some research and my conclusions that follow. Read through to the end and you will find a video of the demo.
Looking over my student's papers, there may have been more misconceptions created because of the way I planned the curriculum. In all of the experiments students can see and observe that not all of the crystals or material dissolves yet the water starts to conduct. In their minds there is evidence that they believe either something DOES dissolve or it does NOT. Clearly, partial dissolving is initially too much to consider.