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Back to school time means back to lab time too. Students new to chemistry have a lot on their plates the first few labs—learning unfamiliar safety procedures, becoming accustomed to writing lab reports, even figuring out which glassware they’re looking for in their lab space. How can teachers help them to navigate this newness? Two articles in the July 2016 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education are useful resources for “back to lab” time.
Visualizations for Chemistry Teaching and Learning
The June 2016 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: visualizations for chemistry teaching and learning, periodic table resources for teaching visually impaired students, biochemistry in the classroom and laboratory, spectroscopy in the laboratory, commentaries on analytical chemistry topics, resources for teaching, distilling the archives: guided-inquiry experiments.
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.
I met Jenelle Ball in Denver, CO at the Spring 2015 National ACS meeting. She is soft spoken and engaging. Jenelle’s biographical information is impressive. She earned a BS and MS in chemistry. While in graduate school, she recognized a passion for the process of teaching and learning which led her to teach high school chemistry. Most of her career has been spent at Chico Senior High School in Chico, CA. She was also fortunate to have the opportunity to take a rare sabbatical from high school teaching and earn a MA degree in teaching and learning.
I have no idea what the title is of the first Journal of Chemical Education article that I want to highlight this month. That’s because you haven’t written it yet.
Thinking Like a Chemist
The May 2016 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: assessment & learning theories, science literacy & chemical information, engaging young chemists in chemistry, analysis of real-world samples, organic chemistry in the classroom and lab, computational chemistry in the laboratory, thermodynamics, kinetics projects, understanding hydrophobic & hydrophilic materials.
We’ve all seen and use the so-called Aufbau Diagram. It is a mnemonic used to remember the order of “filling” of atomic orbitals during the construction of the ground state electron configurations of the elements. The presentation of this diagram is largely disconnected from any physical meaning. Here’s what we tell our students: “Memorize the diagram, learn to use it, and you’re guaranteed to get the right answer.”
Chemists Celebrate Earth Day
The April 2016 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. In honor of Earth Day 2016, the April issue includes a variety of content that provides ideas and suggestions for bringing environmental chemistry to students on the topics of: water quality; climate science and greenhouse gases; atmospheric chemistry; sustainability, green chemistry, and environmental awareness; and energy storage technology. Also in the issue are articles on: outreach and public understanding; teaching organic chemistry; physical chemistry; exploring biochemistry with proteins; research experiences in the laboratory; educational resources.
In a dramatic movie trailer voice: “The Boiling Point. Gone without a trace. Or were they? The scene… a mystery. Had they disappeared? Been broken up into unrecognizable pieces? Can our hero find the answer? Or will it be too late?”
Is the cover of the March 2016 issue (see photo) of the Journal of Chemical Education a familiar scene? It is to me. I’ve spent many hours surrounded by shelves full of books and journals, in all of their papery goodness. Paper was the mainstay of my undergraduate searches in the chemistry library, although computer searches (to lead me to paper) also played a role. Since then, the landscape has changed dramatically, with far-reaching effects on both students and educators.