September 2017 Xchange

Dear ChemEd X Community,

The official dates of National Chemistry Week (NCW) 2017 are October 22-28. Of course, you can take some liberties with the schedule, but I hope you will consider not only how you might celebrate with your students, but with their parents, younger students and the rest of the community through outreach. Our community can help to change the perception of chemistry. How many of you have had parents mention that they hated chemistry? How many of your students walk into your chemistry class as a sophomore or junior and are clearly intimidated because they are not sure what the course is about other than they have heard it is difficult? By doing some outreach, maybe we can create some interest among the community by helping them understand that chemistry is in fact all around them and that the subject directly applies to each one of us. By sharing in ways that everyone can relate, students might just look forward to learning more. At this point, you have about a month to plan. I encourage you to consider registering the NCW webinar highlighted below. You can always find NCW resources at as well. I hope you will feel free to contact me through the .

Best regards,

Deanna Cullen

I try to show the public that chemistry, biology, physics, astrophysics is life.

It is not some separate subject that you have to be pulled into a corner to be taught about.

~Neil deGrasse Tyson


With the hope of helping you to get the most out of our website, we will occasionally highlight tips and suggestions. We have a new FAQ page that is a work in progress. At the moment, you can find support to update your profile (add a photo and a tagline), manage your subscriptions and use our filters to narrow the search of the topic you are looking for. 


The first chapter of many middle and high school science textbooks contain a section on “the scientific method.” As a result, by the time your students get to you they are probably very adept at reciting how science is done, or at least how they think it is done. A short list of easy steps is presented which always, incomprehensibly begins with forming a hypothesis (which some people insist must be an if-then statement), and then BOOM! Science has happened. Check out how this author works to overcome the sense that there is a strict list of steps for every scientific endeavor. 


With its focus on geology and chemistry, this year’s National Chemistry Week (NCW) celebration is a chance to show students that Chemistry Rocks! An upcoming free webinar will show you resources that make it easy to integrate geology and chemistry.

You can find other online resources for celebrating National Chemistry Week 2017 on the website. 


The Teacher Page should include all of the notes you need to set up, run, and clean up the particular experiment. You should record from whom you obtained the lab and list the location of chemicals in the stockroom. You should add notes of things that worked and did not work so that you have them handy the next time you use the lab. A very helpful part of this idea helps you to calculate amounts of chemicals needed to make multiple volumes of solutions. Using this organizational tool can save time and repeated effort!


As part of advocating science literacy in her classroom, Dana Hsi has her 10th grade Honors Chemistry students dance their first semester final. This Dance Your Final semester final is to force students to actually read real, published scientific research; have a group final; eliminate test anxiety; and help students have fun with the content. Dana says that of all assignments assigned during the school year, this is the one that students say they sweat the hardest on, enjoy the most, and are the most proud of their work.


Chad Husting uses baseballs and "small" balls to introduce measurement into the curriculum early in the course. This activity provides for good discussion. He backs this up with another activity, . In this activity, students use their measurements to determine the density of several pieces of hardened polymer clay (some of these pieces contain extra pieces of metal inside that causes inconsistencies).



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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