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Have you ever cooked a marshmallow in a microwave? In case you are not familiar with this experiment, when a marshmallow is heated in a microwave, gases trapped in the marshmallow expand and escape. When the gas molecules escape from the marshmallow, they push against the marshmallow, causing it to expand. Check out the video.
Moles, mole ratios and stoichiometry have been frustrating topics for many of my chemistry students. The MOLE and Avogadro’s number get tangled up in other Chemistry jargon and students have stared at me like I am speaking another language. I have been around long enough to know this is a problem that many of us have faced. I have tried many ideas that have helped and I want to share a few.
Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Doug Ragan and I have been a high school chemistry teacher for fourteen years. Three years ago, I was approached by my high school principal and the conversation went like this,
Principal: "You are one lucky guy."
Me: "Really, why?"
You may have read Sarah Kong's recent blog post on inquiry on this site. I thought I would give a description of one way I incorporate inquiry learning into one of the chemistry courses I teach.
Who is Sarah Kong and why is she starting a blog for Chem Ed X about Inquiry?
Whenever possible, I try to begin a topic with something my students are familar with. For the introduction of Percent Composition in my general chemistry course, I brought in bags of Oreo cookies. Seeing the bags upon entering class was a great attention getter. If you are looking for ways to add more inquiry to your chemistry course, this a an example of how you can experiment with giving up a little control. Try it and see how it goes.
Having some experience in using and creating inquiry activities, I am getting questions from teachers looking for ways to add inquiry to their curriculum. My first tip is to take baby steps. I will continue to blog about ideas to help outline some of those steps. First, I am sharing some inquiry ideas from the last unit I taught in my high school general chemistry course along with providing some ideas for using the resources provided with a subscription to ChemEdX.
I love the first week of school! I perform some of my favorite demonstrations and we jump right into activities that help to jumpstart the year and excite students about where we are headed. I am in the process of uploading many of those activities. I will list them here and you can check them out.
BCCE 2012 is just around the corner at Penn State University. Opening ceremonies begin on July 29th and the conference runs through August 2nd.