Creating Visuals for Nucleon Interactions

screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-10-18-31-pmRepulsive electrostatic forces. Strong nuclear forces. Charged subatomic particles interacting with neutral subatomic particles. Stable nuclei contain a “magic” number of neutrons and protons, otherwise the nucleus will decay.

Students will act like they understand these terms  by attempting to memorize the definitions, and all the explanations written down in class. And that’s the problem…students memorizing information and not actually learning the concepts. Subatomic particle interactions has always been a complicated concept for my students. I’ve done graphing, picture visuals, number analyzing, lots of stuff that is supposed to work. Yet it’s always a lower scoring portion on quizzes and tests.

Continue reading

Students Experience 3D Learning for the First Time

Picture this: A perfectly planned investigation, no unusual chemicals to hunt down, eager students, no complaining, and all actively writing down their science thoughts……sound too good to be true? It is, but maybe not for the reasons you’re thinking.

Two weeks ago I wrote a post about introducing my students to 3-dimensional learning using the investigation “Reaction in a Bag.” Now that all my quizzes are graded I’ve decided to write the reflection over how my students did with 3D learning, the thoughts of my two teaching peers who taught this way for the very first time, and what’ll I’ll do better next time (and not just next year “next time”).

Continue reading

Developing SEP Skills: Reaction in a Bag

The shift to 3-dimensional learning in science education not only means teachers need help and time to adjust, so do our students! How do we ready our students for this change? What’s the best way to do this? I’m not sure but I’ll tell you how I’m going to do it. Before my classes start diving into chemistry concepts I’m going to have them do an investigation in which the focus will be developing the skills necessary for using science and engineering practices (SEPs) to explain crosscutting concepts (CCCs). This way when we begin chemistry concepts we have a reference point. The disciplinary core ideas in this investigation are (hopefully) review for my students (matter is made of particles and energy flows). To do this, I’m going to take an old lab (Reaction in a Bag) and refine it to fit my needs. You’ll find everything below!

Continue reading

Science Sundays – Catalyst Investigation!

New year. New goals. One of them being more blog posts, so welcome to Science Sundays! Each Sunday I’m going to write something about science, and classroom activities, instructional strategies, or current events!

This week’s topic will be: Catalyst Investigations! I felt this should be the first ‘Science Sunday’ since my last post was all about the stress of implementing labs and it’s only right to write about the great parts too 🙂

The slow-mo video below shows my students testing a gas that is produced when hydrogen peroxide and potassium iodide interact:

The glowing wood splint reignites as it interacts with the gas being produced by the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide (into water and oxygen gas). While I used this lab to study catalysts, it could also be used for learning types of reactions!

Continue reading