Tag Archives: chemistry

Welcome!

Source: WikiJournal of Science

I’ve created this site for my students as well as teachers and learners of science around the world. My intention is to share engaging content-specific resources as well as general guidance for science learning and scientific communication. The tabs across the top of the page take you to pages dedicated to IB Biology, IB Environmental Systems and Societies, and MYP Integrated Sciences. Much of the content on those pages also applies to science classes which are not a part of the International Baccalaureate Organization structure, though the assessment criteria are specific to the IBO’s Diploma Program and the Middle Years Program.

Below, you’ll find a few resources which I think are some of the most valuable for my students, and which I want them to come back to regularly. This is where you’ll find guidance on writing lab reports, creating data tables and graphs for data analysis, and developing presentations to effectively communicate about science. You’ll also find a list of digital resources for science, which I update regularly as I unearth new tools that I think will benefit students’ learning, as well as previous blog entries (from the days when I had more time to write).

How to Write MYP Science Reports

How to Create Scientific Tables and Graphs

How to Effectively Communicate Scientific Knowledge

Digital Resources for Science

Happy learning!

Mr K

Ecology resources for students: Part 1

Good afternoon!

I’m back with another set of bookmarks for students and teachers. Because I’ve taught the IB Environmental systems and societies course for several years, this set of online resources is closest to my heart. Some of these links are here simply because I think they’re cool or fun. Many may also be applicable for studying biology and chemistry as well. Let’s get to it:

Happy learning!

Cheers,

Mr K

Chemistry resources for students: Part 1

Hello again!

As with my last post, this one is dedicated to sharing the random assortment of helpful bookmarks I’ve collected over the years. Like the first part of my bio resources, these are in no particular order, unless you consider where they fall in my browser’s drop-down menu some kind of order. Without further ado, some resources for your chemistry studies:

  • PTable.com. Hands down the best periodic table on the internet. Period.
  • Chemistry.about.com. A good, all-around general chemistry resource. They’ve updated the site format to include news and events, which may tie in nicely with MYP Criterion D: Reflecting on the impacts of science.
  • LibreTexts virtual chemistry textbooks. These are some fairly advanced materials which may be more appropriate for students in Diploma Program or AP chemistry classes. Organized around broad topics such as analytical chemistry, environmental chemistry, organic chem, and physical and theoretical chemistry.
  • IB Chemistry Web. This site appears to be meticulously maintained, and it’s closely aligned with the new IB Chemistry syllabus. Heavy on text, but a tremendous amount of resources for every part of the course.
  • PCCL Flash animations for learning chemistry. These aren’t fancy animations, but they clearly and simply demonstrate a bunch of key topics in general chemistry.
  • Molecular Workbench. Hundreds of engaging, interactive simulations in chemistry (and other subjects). Many include embedded assessments, and you can build your own simulation if you really get into it. You can spend hours with the MW.
  • Cavalcade o’ Chemistry (a.k.a. ChemFiesta). Mr Guch’s incredible chemistry page. He’s been maintaining this page since the late 1990s, and it gets better and better each year. Supremely helpful for middle school and early high school students. He also has a special section just for teachers.
  • Practical chemistry activities from the Nuffield Foundation. Over 200 activities you can do to teach or learn about chemistry. Some are virtual, but many require a science lab.
  • Behind the Scenes at MIT. As the website tagline says, “A series of two-minute videos relating concepts from textbook chemistry to current MIT research and applications in medicine, the environment, and energy.” A nice way for students to see the real-world applications of what’s happening in the lab and the classroom.
  • Off the Shelf Chemistry. A series of 18 chemistry labs for middle school and high school. Download PDF or Word versions to use in your own class/lab.
  • Chemlab.com from Truman State University. This website hosts the course materials for several university-level chemistry courses, but many of them are appropriate and applicable for high school.
  • Periodic Videos from TED-Ed. “A lesson about every single element on the periodic table.” Enough said.

Those are my Chrome chemistry bookmarks. After I’ve run through my resources for earth science, ecology, and physics, I’ll revisit all these subjects and add a second round of resources from my Firefox browser.

Welcome to the new school year!

Welcome – or welcome back – to another exciting year of learning about science!

After recharging my internal batteries on an extended safari with my dad and brother, followed by a couple of weeks in Italy with my children and my mom, I’m energized for the upcoming school year. It’s time to get started on what should be an exciting, innovative, engaging year for myself and all the students in my classes.

We’ve overhauled the grade 8 science curriculum since last year, which means that this year we’ll be studying astronomy, chemistry, electricity and magnetism, and plant adaptations – a nice mix of sciences that will hopefully offer a little something for everyone.

Grade 10 science is broken into the three ‘classic’ sciences of chemistry, physics, and biology, with units on stoichiometry, sound and light waves, and genetics and evolution, respectively.

This year is particularly intriguing for me as I make the transition from teaching the Diploma Program’s Environmental Systems and Societies course for the past 7 years to my first year teaching IB Biology. It will be fun to apply some of my “teaching bag o’ tricks” to a new subject.

Let’s get started!

Cheers

Mr K

Genius Hour in Chemistry

“Chemistry is, well technically, chemistry is the study of matter. But I prefer to see it as the study of change.”

-Walter White, Breaking Bad

My last class today was one of those moments that keeps me teaching. My two grade-level collaborators and I just launched a Genius Hour project for our Grade 10 chemistry unit – How have scientific and technical innovations in chemistry changed our world? – and some of the ideas our students came up with are pretty engaging. Check out this brief list of some of the more memorable proposals from today:

  • A discussion of the benefits and limitations of spray-on solar cells
  • Are methadone treatments for heroin addicts ethical?
  • How has molecular gastronomy impacted the food industry?
  • How has the development of cheap plastics impacted the lives of subsistence farmers in east Africa?
  • What are the potential environmental consequences of new-generation car batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles, and how do they compare to the consequences of internal combustion engines?
  • How has our perception and use of LSD changed, from a proposed Cold-War truth serum, to a recreational drug, to a possible treatment for psychological disorders?
  • A comparison of social interactions before and after the invention of indoor air conditioning.

I love the idea of kids exploring their own personal interests within the framework of a subject or topic. School should be more like this more often. It’s certainly less boring for the students, but it’s also considerably more engaging for us teachers as well. For one thing, I don’t have to grade 60 of the same tedious essay topic assigned year after year! Instead, students create videos and animations, write songs, and make public speeches à la TED talks.

In previous open-ended projects I’ve done with my classes, I have found that I am better able to judge individual students’ understanding of major concepts in science because we have many more two-way conversations, rather than the typical one-sided lectures common to so many classrooms around the world. Not only am I better able to assess their learning, but students’ learning goes considerably deeper.

For more on the Genius Hour movement in education, check out Chris Kessler’s blog, GeniusHour.com, and the video below.

Happy learning!

Moles and Mr Avogadro: Why the Fuss?

Good afternoon.

Avogadro's number. Source unknown, but if it's yours, please contact me and I will offer proper credit.

Avogadro’s number. Source unknown, but if it’s yours, please contact me and I will offer proper credit.

For the past week, I’ve been teaching the mole concept and conversions between moles, mass, and particles, and even though I remember being somewhat confused by the concept when I was a student, I can’t figure out why this topic is so difficult year in and year out.

Part of me thinks it’s simply the magnitude of the number: 6.02e23, or 602sextillion, is just too big for humans to actually comprehend. But a mole is really just a name for a number, like a dozen (12) or a gross (144). So why is it that Avogadro causes so much grief? Here’s TED-Ed’s take on the mole.

Maybe it’s the dimensional analysis (ladder method) used to convert between moles, molecules, and mass? So many students tell me that they can’t remember when to multiply and when to divide, but that’s exactly what the ladder method does: it’s just an organizational tool! I’ll let Mr Andersen from Bozeman Science explain the conversions.

More Science Video Resources

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I’ve stumbled across some valuable resources this morning – I shared them via Twitter – and they inspired me to share some more science-y things. Here are a few more channels I follow regularly on YouTube, all of which are great for support and/or inspiration in your scientific endeavors.

First up today is Numberphile. Numberphile makes videos about numbers, and since science and mathematics are so inherently intertwined, this channel is kind of a natural pairing for a lot of what we do in our studies of physical science and astronomy. Lots of entertaining and fascinating stuff here.

Next is The Bad Astronomer. As you might guess, this channel focuses heavily on astronomy and space science. Mostly it’s a collection of cool informational videos that don’t seem to be organized around any one central theme – just neat stuff about outer space.

The Science Channel is a really broad, very well-curated channel dedicated to all the major branches of science. Check out their playlists to filter your search down to specific topics or subjects within a given field of study. Highly professional.

Finally, I’ll link to NASA’s official YouTube channel. Here you’ll find literally hundreds of videos assembled by a large team of scientists working on a wide variety of projects at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA.