From the looks of things, we are all in the same boat. Spring fever. I had two groups of students. Both are ending 3rd quarter, looking out a window at the first nice weather we have had in weeks. Most are already planning their spring break vacation and some have left early. Notice, not much talk about chemistry. The curriculum said it was time for stoichiometry for one group and specific heat for another. Just what the kids wanted to do (read with sarcasm).
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Each spring my Local Section of The American Chemical Society (ACS) hosts a rigorous two part exam as part of the selection process for the The International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO) IChO is an annual international competition for the world’s top chemistry students. Each year, nations from all over the world will send teams of four to compete for top honors.
How can I engage my students (and myself) for the last half of the semester? I read recently that the human attention span in 2015 is 8.25 seconds(link is external), which is down from 2000’s 12-second span. Currently, we are just beneath goldfish, who can attend to one thought for 9 seconds. I’m not sure of the methods of the research study, and I maintain a level of healthy skepticism. However, I admit my thoughts often spring from topic to topic like a bubble gum machine bouncy ball.
f you go to this site on Etsy (Que Intersante. Where Geek Meets Art) you can get a great project for you kids for not too much money. Essentially what this site sells are Crayon labels.
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.
Many of you familiar with me will know I have a great affinity for academic competition and was more than a little bit upset when the International Chemistry Olympiad was scheduled for Karachi Pakistan in 2016.
Chemical Information Special Issue
The March 2016 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. The entire issue is devoted to topics on various aspects of chemical information and information literacy: chemical education research on information literacy; chemical information literacy for undergraduates; chemical information literacy for graduate students; prototypes and best practices; discovery.
One of my favorite things to talk about with my colleagues is the use of lecture demonstrations in teaching. There seems to be a push in my district to stop using chemicals whenever possible and get to computer simulations and video in place of wet chemistry. I don’t think they are thrilled with me since I can’t envision ever taking the chemistry out of chemistry.
There have been a TON of great ideas for guided inquiry (modeling instruction(link is external), POGIL(link is external), Target Inquiry(link is external), etc.). I do a ton of guided inquiry in my classroom. I have engaged in professional development on facilitating group work (through POGIL) and read what I hear is THE book on group work (which really is quite good- “Designing Groupwork(link is external)”).
A perfect storm starts to form. We are on the concept of moles and I have some students who are struggling mathematically. It is a rough time of year to get kids excited. Many students are struggling with ACT and SAT prep and as a teacher, I am tired of test...test...test. Also, I had about two dozen 2 liter bottle "pre forms" that I needed to find something to do with.