My IB seniors are just wrapping up our unit on electrochemistry and redox. This has always been a challenging topic within the IB curriculum. Admittedly, electrochemistry has not ever been my strong suit either, so this year I aimed to strengthen the unit with two additional demonstrations.
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Years ago, I took some wonderful material science workshops sponsored by ASM International. They did an amazing job of helping me add some more tools to my teaching tool kit. Materials are all around us and the workshop was a week long adventure into either creating a material science course or tying material science into existing curriculum. The chemistry of materials can easily be introduced into any curriculum.
This week I had the opportunity to attend part 2 of a 3 day PD for Gizmos, courtesy of a district grant working with ExploreLearning. In a room full of middle school science colleagues (half of whom I knew), I was able to glean a ton of great information.
What surprised you most about class last week? What do you think was the muddiest point in class last week? These two questions are part of an article that caught my eye in the November 2016 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education—Surprises in the Muddy Waters of High-Enrollment Courses.
Science is cool. It allows us to step back and reason why things are the way they are. Most importantly it fuels us to keep questioning why. Asking why is an important aspect of learning, and is a huge part of the way classrooms run, on average a teacher will ask 300-400 questions just in a day (Vogler 2008)! However, what happens when a student does not have the correct answer to a question? Are they deemed wrong? Is it a misconception that we must fix?
Solution to Chemical Mystery #8, and...a challenge!
The November 2016 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: electrochemistry; researching how assessment aids learning; using technology to teach; environmental chemistry; hands-on, minds-on activities and demonstrations; geology-inspired chemistry.
Atomsmith works really well on Chromebooks and other platforms. Students can manipulate molecules, add water, do experiments, heat solutions and examine intermolecular forces all on the particulate level. Another nice feature is the "Experiment" section. There are a number of guided activities, usually never more than a page or two. I have found them to be great supplements for activities, experiments and demonstrations.
To squash any misconceptions, I would like to say first and foremost I am not a great cook. My husband graciously does most of the cooking in our house. However, as a chemist, I am fascinated by the complex reactions involved in everyday life. Pair this curiosity with the requirement to teach an elective, and the Chemistry of Cooking elective was born.
In July of 2016 we learned the names of the four new elements that were confirmed in January; Nihonium (Nh), moscovium (Mc), tennessine (Ts) and oganesson (Og). Although the newest superheavy elements complete the seventh period of the Periodic Table, curiosity has been reignited in our classrooms as students ask, what’s next?