I am sad to relay that Alex Johnstone died just before Christmas at age 89. I have written a short tribute to him because although I never knew him, he helped me make sense of why most of the time we fail, and that when we succeed... it is a triumphal moment!
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I feel like every year I face the same old dilemma. It starts with an idea in mind of what and how something should be taught. This idea is fine until it is discovered that students this year are different than students last year. The idea is changed or “tweaked”. The process is feels similar to having to “reinvent” the wheel each year. This gets exhausting.
Erica Jacobsen shares highlights from the December 2017 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education.
It was close to the end of the semester and we were covering gas laws. Students were stressed over the idea of finals, final projects due, tests before finals and the holidays. Since we were finishing up the topic and it was important to end with one last assessment and/or lab but the timing was not good and the stress level for everyone was at an all time high. A different course of action was needed.
Improving Student Perception and Performance
The December 2017 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: functional nanomaterials and chemical detection; improving student performance; peer-led instruction; simulations and computer-based learning; engaging and interactive instruction; synthesis laboratories; NMR spectroscopy and mass spectrometry; innovative physical chemistry investigations; ConfChem Conference on select 2016 BCCE presentations; from the archives: music and chemistry.
Is it time for us as chemistry teachers to move beyond the Le Châtelier Principle as justification for why disturbances to equilibrium systems cause particular “shifts”? The author shares his new approach to teach equilibrium and provide his students with a more rigorous understanding of the concept.
Density Bottles can be used to teach a variety of chemical concepts such as density, solubility, and polarity. In this post it is shown that Density Bottles can also be used to differentiate between heterogeneous and homogeneous mixtures, and to explore light scattering.
Nomenclature is a tough topic. I tell students that we are living in the land of symbols while we study nomenclature. It is important but it is difficult to get them excited. I started fishing for resources. The American Association for Chemistry Teachers (AACT) has been a great resource to help me try new things.
Take a look at an old favorite, the brass penny activity. There are several variations of procedural steps to be found. The safest version uses either a low concentration of NaOH or a solution of zinc chloride.
Polymer Concepts across the Curriculum
The November 2017 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. The entire issue is focused on polymer concepts across the curriculum. This special issue provides useful ideas and tools for chemistry instructors of all levels.