It was a familiar childhood sound. You know that sound? A bin of Lego building blocks. You want that one particular piece. You rake through the pieces with both hands, searching. That noise. It was often heard during my younger years and now filters down from my children’s bedrooms upstairs. But, as someone connected with teaching and learning chemistry, I don’t have to leave that toy (or sound) behind.
Upon sharing my array of apps with some future chemistry teachers, they asked why so many Periodic Tables? My response was “Well not all periodic tables are the same”, upon which was followed by several blank stares...Let me explain: I currently have the following periodic table apps loaded on my iPad...
Are kids learning? Given the time it takes to implement and grade the activity, do I get a lot of "educational moments" out of it? Does it fit into the culture of the classroom? Is there a great deal of "conceptually rich" material in the activity that students can build on? I believe that two activities I tried this week fit the bill.
I love the periodic table. I love the order, the stories, the trends and patterns, the people who made it. I love how it can be used. I love that it is the ultimate cheat sheet for a scientists or a student taking chemistry. I love the different types of periodic tables that exist. My love for this table is pretty evident. I have four periodic table ties and a periodic table bow tie. My wife went to Florida for a week to take care of her sick mother and while she was gone, I bought a periodic table shower curtain. I learned two things pretty quickly. Eight year old boys can't keep secrets (my son specifically) and as much as my darling wife loves me, she drew the line on the shower curtain. It was her or the shower curtain. So, I took it to school and tried to put it in the one place that made sense...next to the safety shower.
October was always the "big" one. That was the monthly issue that coincided with National Chemistry Week (NCW) when I was at the Journal of Chemical Education. In a past Especially for High School Teachers column, I compared the arrival of the October 2005 issue in the mail to receiving a Christmas gift. That year, it was filled with resources for sharing chemistry through “The Joy of Toys.” Those issues were a bonanza of articles chosen with precollege teachers in mind, including many that specifically matched the American Chemical Society NCW theme for the year.
It was Oregonians only (lucky me!) for PBS’s limited release of The Mystery of Matter: Search for the Elements in fall 2014. A national premiere is now at hand—mark your calendar for your local station’s broadcast.
This week I am on spring break. Before spring break, my honors and regular Chemistry 1 classes made it through our third unit called “Periodic Table and Periodicity.” During this unit, we take about 3 days to learn the content and another 3-4 days to practice the content (more for Chemistry 1, less for Honors). One way that I have my students review the content is by playing a board game that I recreated from an NSTA conference a few years ago. In this board game students are instructed to place words on their proper line/location (including names of families/groups and regions of the periodic table) and arrows on yellow dots pointing in the direction that that periodic trend increases (trends include: Electronegativity, Ionization Energy, and Atomic Size/Radius). Feel free to create additional periodic trend arrows depending on what you’ve covered in class.
TV and movie screens today offer us a desperate fight against crazy-fast zombies, a peek into celebrities’ lives where truth is often stranger than fiction, million-dollar game shows, and more. Can portraits of science compete?
Here’s a great project to try with your students: build a periodic table out of Lego blocks. We did this a few years ago at Spring Arbor University, working with teachers and students from Ha