What am I doing to help kids achieve?
How do I know when they are there?
What is the evidence?
O.K...maybe "love" is a bit strong. But I am strongly enamored with "Atomsmith Classroom". Here is the evolution of this affair...I first stumbled upon Atomsmith at Chem Ed 2015. Totally loved the way you could pop up a number of molecules on the big screen and move them around. They had really cool stuff like showing and modeling phase changes with water. They demonstrated the ability to show quantum orbitals in which you can see all of the clouds combined and then separate the electron clouds into individual orbitals. I was all set to jump in feet first and then my heart sank...they had it on everything but chromebooks (which is what we use at my school). The presenter suggested that I contact the good people at Atomsmith. They have been working on an online version that runs on chromebooks.
They contacted me after a few weeks and I signed up for a new online version. It was rather basic but good. I had to send a few emails to figure out all of the buttons and functionality. Most of the problems were user error on my part. The people at Atomsmith were extremely patient and responsive to any and all questions. So here is the scoop on the online version.
The molecular models are great. It was fantastic to be able to work on molecular models in class, have kids draw something on paper and then pull it up on Atomsmith Classroom. It is a bit tricky when it comes to finding the models but they are working on a search function.
The quantum orbitals are amazing. A person can view the orbital notation on one screen, see all of the orbitals combined on another screen and then move a "slider" to separate the electron clouds into their individual orbitals. Bottom line, it really helps to take the symbolic orbital notations and connect them with models of electron clouds in a way that I have never before been able to do.
Finally, there is a "reaction model". First, I did a combustion reaction in class. Next, I pulled the reaction up on "Atomsmith Classroom" and hit "load the model". On another screen it had models of all of the reactants and the approximate energy of the reactants. As you move the "slider" the reactants get closer and at the peak of the activation energy you can see the bonds break and form and the energy change in a way that shows the products. We just started thermochemistry and this has been absolutely invaluable. I have been able to model "energy going in" and "energy going out" in a way I have not ever been able to do in the past. If you are a modeler, you will probably drool over this.
I have barely touched on many aspects of the online program. The people at "Atomsmith" are constantly adding things and trying to improve it. It costs me about $10 for a years subscribtion and so far it has been worth it. I am not sure what the future holds for Atomsmith Classroom but this is a tool I would highly recommend that you check out.
Word of caution. I never review or get anything "free". This is something I saw and decided to check out. Also, for some teachers a subscription of $10 might be a deal breaker. I get it. When you start adding up all of the out of pocket expenses, it is tough. Here are some options. First, I have a "goggle rental". If kids forget their goggles, they can run to their lockers or rent a pair for $1. All of the money eventually goes to charity or school supplies for the kids. I would count this as a school supply. Finally, I know a teacher who makes a giant poster tree at the beginning of the year and has "leaves" of items she needs (tissues boxes, dry erase markers, etc...). She always has this up for open house and it seems to be successful. Either way...."Atomsmith Classroom" is one tool I would strongly recommend looking into. If there is enough interest, send me a comment. I'll try to post a short Youtube video tutorial at some point. In the meantime, check out the Atomsmith Classroom website for lots of information, including suggestions for teaching and learning the curriculum that the website supports.