JCE ChemEd Xchange provides a place for sharing information and opinions. Currently, articles, blogs and reading lists from ChemEd X contributors are listed below. We plan to include other items that the community wishes to share through their contributions to ChemEd X.

Especially JCE: July 2017

Erica Jacobsen shares highlights from the July 2017 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education that are of special interest to high school chemistry teachers.

JCE 94.07 July 2017 Issue Highlights

Journal of Chemical Education July 2017 Cover

Encouraging and Supporting Community of Effort

The July 2017 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: artificial photosynthesis; developing laboratory skills through technology; using videos to enhance learning; smartphones in the laboratory; 3D printing as a teaching resource; exploring and understanding structure; making chemistry connections; research on inquiry; from the archives: elephant's toothpaste.

DIY Vapor Catalyzed Chemiluminescence

glow sticks and filter paper

I recently watched a video in which a chemist (who goes by the nickname “NurdRage”) activated a chemiluminescent reaction by vapor deposition. I wanted to try it out for myself! Unfortunately, oxalyl chloride is toxic, corrosive, and a lachrymator. Thus, the experiment conducted by NurdRage needs to be conducted in a hood, and it is not particularly amenable to simple presentations. I began to wonder how I could create this vapor activated chemiluminescence using simple materials.

Nerdy Science Shirt Friday

author wearing nerdy shirt

Over the past 30 years, numerous articles have been written about the importance of student teacher relationships. The National Education Association, NEA, offers advice for beginning teachers that includes establishing the classroom climate, conducting class efficiently, and reaching all students. When teachers effectively connect to their students, discipline problems decrease and student engagement increases.

Soap Making

preview graphic of soap samples

My first year teaching chemistry, I was looking for a soap-making lab or activity that I could run in my chemistry class with 25-30 students working at the same time. I usually do this activity right before spring break, as it provides enough time for the soap to harden and cure (high school students are impatient to use their soaps right away, which you should not do with cold process soap). I have used the activity at different points in the curriculum: during intermolecular forces, during acids and bases, and during stoichiometry. Although I know teachers who use soap making as a project during their stoichiometry unit, I chose to not emphasize the calculations as it would require more time than I have available. Simply making the soap easily fits in a 45-minute period.

Time required: 

45 minutes to just make the soap. Discussion of key concepts may take another class period.

Chemical Thinking Interactives

Screenshot of simulation

As part of a two-week Chemistry Modeling Workshop™ in Houston, TX, I had the opportunity to read the Journal of Chemical Education article “When Atoms Want” by Vicente Talanquer of the University of Arizona. I researched Dr. Talanquer and discovered he created a collection of simulations called Chemical Thinking Interactives (CTI). These digital tools illustrate many chemistry topics with a focus on the particulate nature of matter.

Increasing Access to Stoichiometry Through Differentiated In-Class Practice

Stoichiometry resources

In a recent post, I shared sample quiz questions as to how I have differentiated assessment within the mole unit. Here, I share a specific multi-day sequence within the stoichiometry unit. I have written extensively about the project that drives this unit (within the following blog posts: Why consider trying project based learning?, Backwards planning your PBL unit -­ An Overview of an Entire Unit and What ARE my students actually learning during this long term project (PBL)?), but very little about specific learning tasks. Below is a two day sequence of stoichiometry practice that I set up in my classroom. Stations are set up around the room and students rotate as necessary.

Time required: 

POGIL: ~1 hour

Lecture: ~30 minutes

Mastery check, differentiated practice, project planning: ~2 hours

Chemical Mystery #10: Out of the Blue!

the demo in action

In this simple trick, colors are made to "magically" appear and disappear on a straw. This science experiment is very easy to do...if you know your chemistry!

Selling and Implementing Roles and Teamwork in the Classroom

roles and teamwork

I saw the process of students thinking like scientists but what I struggled with, and I imagine many others do as well, is how students work together in groups. Yes...I know it is important but is this a big battle that I want to fight? I was fortunate to meet several people who have developed some wonderful “tricks of the trade” to help students work as “teams”.