August 2017 Xchange

Dear Reader,

Many of you have already begun a new school year while some are prepping to return to the classroom over the next few weeks. Whether this is your first, last or somewhere in between, I hope it is one of the best years! As a part of the ChemEd X community, we hope you feel comfortable reaching out if there is a way we can better support you. If you have ideas or requests for specific content, please feel free to contact me through the .

Deanna Cullen

One thing I have learned in a long life: that all our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike - and yet it is the most precious thing we have
-Albert Einstein

     

Though we may recognize its presence, teachers, scientists, and policymakers still disagree on the most practical and effective methods for developing scientific literacy in our students. Herein lies our challenge as science educators—what can we do in the classroom to create experiences for our students that involve the understanding and appreciation of the most valuable traits associated with being scientifically literate? This article includes resources and a sample assignment that will hopefully get all of us off on a good start.

     

As we all know, research and general educational practice clearly indicates that students learn science best by doing it – not just reading about it. Hands-on, process and inquiry based science is the key to understanding science. Unfortunately, this is a double edged sword for science teachers in that doing science has its potential hazards and resulting risks. Science laboratories, classrooms and field work sites can be unsafe places to teach and learn. If a student gets hurt while doing an activity in the lab, in the field or even at home if it was a teacher’s assignment, there is potential shared liability for both the teacher and the school

     

In a previous blog post, I shared a book Chemistry: A Very Short Introduction, by Dr. Peter Atkins. For my summer reading I wanted to get back to reading some chemistry non-fiction. I did, however, diverge from my original plan to read Eric Scerri's The Periodic Table: It's story and significance. Instead. "Four Laws That Drive the Universe" (with an alternative title of The Laws of Thermodynamics: A Very Short Introduction) became my next book as I so thoroughly enjoyed the writing style of Peter Atkins.

     

The author recently watched a video in which a chemist (who goes by the nickname “NurdRage”) activated a chemiluminescent reaction by vapor deposition. He wanted to try it out for himself! Unfortunately, oxalyl chloride is toxic, corrosive, and a lachrymator. Thus, the experiment conducted by NurdRage needs to be conducted in a hood, and it is not particularly amenable to simple presentations. The author began to wonder how he could create this vapor activated chemiluminescence using simple materials.

     

The ACS Committee on Chemical Safety has released the 8th edition of "Safety in Academic Chemistry Laboratories. The publication provides advice for first- and second-year university students. 

     

The author shares a series of resources she has created that are built around a post here on ChemEd X about popping a balloon with an orange peel and the concept of polarity.

     

Erica Jacobsen regularly highlights JCE articles that are of special interest to high school teachers. If you would like to explore the whole issue in more depth, check out Mary Saecker's .

     

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