Break the Ice with Mystery Blocks

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.

Time required: 

two class periods

Teaching Moles through Beans

The concept of the mole has always been a challenging topic for myself and my students. The challenge comes in part when we try to imagine 6.02 x 1023 of anything. Another challenge for some students is the math and theory behind this number and concept. I have tweaked an activity to help guide my students to an understanding of these concepts.

JCE 95.01 January 2018 Issue Highlights

Celebrating Ninety-Five Years

The January 2018 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: exploring magnetic properties; examining outreach practices; spectroscopy; understanding chemical changes over time; laboratory curriculum reform; teaching scientific communication; analytical chemistry activities; biochemistry laboratories; 3D printing molecular models; from the archives: chemistry outreach.

An Elemental Understanding of Isotopes

In this activity, students can look inside the model that resembles the atom and find information that reinforces what an isotope actually is. Furthermore, the quantitative data forces students to examine beliefs about different types of averages and what the numbers really mean. This takes a bit of effort to set up but is inexpensive and can be used year after year.

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.

My Research: Unpacking Active Learning

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.

Elements and Augmented Reality

Augmented reality is a type of technology that uses an app to turn a hidden QR code into a three dimensional object on a screen as viewed by your camera. Elements 4D attempts to bring augmented reality to chemistry.