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I am a very firm believer that the world of physical science can be visualized and is an excellent medium for teaching students to model and to picture what happens at the molecular level. The first topic we decided to explore was balancing chemical equations. This seems like such a simple topic to chemistry teachers but I have found that it can be quite challenging for many of my inner city students. The first thing they ask me for is a list of rules that they can follow. We can discuss the problems of algorithmic teaching in a later post! For the time being let’s talk about how to get students to understand why they need to balance equations and discuss what we can call “Conservation of Atoms”.
The July 2016 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: cost-effective instrumentation, including 3D printed instruments and low-cost spectroscopy; laboratory instrumentation and equipment; effective teaching assistants in chemistry; laboratory experiments; resources for teaching; puzzles and games to introduce the periodic table.
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.
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.
For my students and me, the AP Chemistry exam does not mark the end of the school year. Once the AP exam is over, my students are exhausted but our class continues to meet for three more weeks. Each year we complete a qualitative analysis lab, but this year we finished earlier than I anticipated. For the first time all year, I have the luxury of time.
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.
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.”