While I may be a bit outside of the educational sector due to my main focus of study being within the field of biochemistry and french (and not education itself), I am still fascinated with the act of teaching and the best way to go about doing so. As a student and peer educator, I am always open to new ways of learning and sharing those processes with others. Through this class, I have been able to gain invaluable skills in using and applying digital tools. Some of these I have even started using for other courses.
In this ever-increasingly digital era, it is important to be familiar with digital tools, like those utilized by this course. While I have had practice with some of these tools, there were others of which I had never even heard. Over the course of this semester, I was able to explore these tools and gain confidence in my use of them. Previously, I would have described my understanding and use of technology as “beginner” or at best a “working-relationship”. Now, I consider myself closer to “novice”.
In my projects, I attempted to apply the digital tools investigated to theoretical lessons related to chemistry. The following works are ones I am particularly proud of and I believe show how I have improved my abilities in the digital world.
The first I’d like to showcase is the Google Site I made on acid-base chemistry. Through this site, students are given introductory and concluding activities, a general knowledge of acid-base chemistry, as well as a brief mention on the applications of such chemistry in the “real world”. Many fun (educational) videos are included too. I am rather pleased with this post due to how well all of the information in parsed out in small bits, making it easier to digest.
Creating “Solutions: How Basic Are They?” made me feel the most like a teacher. As a peer educator in Chemistry, I get questions all the time about calculating pH for a given solution. This post allows me to answer those questions with ease. This resource emphasizes active learning while also allowing the student to tailor it to his/her needs. I am rather proud of it because it utilizes two (or three if you count WordPress itself) digital tools: Jamboard, which was introduced in a previous lesson, and Loom, which was the main focus of this lesson. This activity asks students to watch mini “lecture” videos (recorded via Loom) regarding the calculation of the pH of a solution and then apply that knowledge to practice problems. They can then check their answers by watching the corresponding solution video for each problem. If the students don’t understand where they went wrong, they are asked to refer back to the videos or even a Google Site containing information on acids and bases (which is found in a previous WordPress post).
Finally, I’d like to highlight the book I made through Book Creator. I had so much fun writing and creating “Aqua& Fina: A Tale of Chemical Adventure”. Chemistry tends to be viewed in a negative light. I thought a story might help change that perception (because who doesn’t love a good story?). I hope this would be used in a classroom as a model for a project where students come up with their own fun illustrations explaining a chemistry topic. However, it can also serve as a way for students to think critically about the chemistry they have learned through the discussion questions provided while at the same time adding a little more fun to the subject.
Audience: This book is intended for students who have at least been introduced to chemical concepts but preferably have more experience with chemistry under their belts
Purpose: This book is intended to illustrate some chemical concepts previously learned in the classroom through a fun, if simple, story. Students/the audience is asked some questions at the end which allow them to reflect on the story.
Use in the classroom: I would love to use this story as a preface to students coming up with their own way to illustrate a chemical concept, bringing some fun and creativity to a subject typically considered difficult and uninteresting. However, as it is, I think it is a great way to get students to apply what they have learned and use critical thinking skills to reflect on the story itself.
Previously, we learned about acids and bases (you can view the post HERE or be taken directly to my Google site by clicking HERE). One property is based on the pH value, where bases have a pH greater than 7 and acids have a pH less than 7. But how do we find the pH of an acidic solution? Or a basic one? Does acid/base strength matter? This lesson aims to answer all of these questions through the use of Loom screen-casting. Thus, this lesson is for chemistry students with a general understanding of acids, bases, and pH.
Directions to students:
Watch the lesson videos on how to find the pH of an acidic/basic solution
Download a copy of the Jamboard and complete the problems
Check your responses by watching the corresponding videos for each question.
If you still have questions, try watching the lesson video again. You can also review the Google site for more information on pH and acids and bases.
The Lessons: Watch these two videos. One covers how to find the pH for STRONG acids/bases and the other explains the process for WEAK acids/bases.
Here are the videos showing the correct process for each question from the Jamboard activity:
Why Loom ? Loom allows for easy recording. I can have any given document on my screen and viewers can watch as I interact with that document. Since it records whatever is on my screen, I can easily switch between documents (like a Jamboard activity and a whiteboard) to better relay information to students. Screen-casting is really useful for explaining the process behind a given chemistry problem. It can also be used as a study tool at a later date. Since the screen-casting provides a video, the content can easily be shared as well, which might be handy for parents.
Today, we are going to learn about acids, bases, and how that knowledge can be applied through the use of a Google Site.
Target audience: High school (or greater) students who are in a general chemistry course and are learning about acid-base chemistry.
Lesson context: This lesson aims to be both an introduction and a review on the basics of acid-base chemistry. It is not, by any means, exhaustive.
Pre-assess what students already know through the activities on the “pre-lesson activity” tab.
Discuss what is an acid versus a base (using the “definitions” tab and the subheadings “acids” and “bases”).
Once the definitions are cemented, learn real-world applications of acid-base chemistry, allowing students to connect the importance of acid-base chemistry to everyday life.
Take a post-assessment to ensure understanding has been reached (located under the “post-lesson activity” tab).
*5. Have fun while doing science! (There are some fun videos under the “science fun” tab as well).
Why a Google Site? Google sites are free to use. Plus, their design allows for separation due to the multiple page feature, which comes in handy with topics that have a lot of pieces to them (like acid-base chemistry). This aspect also makes it easy for students to return to the information if they wish to review it. However, it does make it difficult to limit what students do when, as they have access to everything at the same time.
Click on the image to be directed to the Google Site. You can also click HERE.
A previous post gave a glimpse into the range of information found on the periodic table. One may wonder what these abstract elements look like physically and where we find them. The following activity involves both examining a Google My Map and then completing a Google Forms. The MyMap is intended to give students a glimpse into some of the sources of lithium and aluminum (bauxite) , elements with a link to our daily lives. The Forms allows for student assessment but permits a bit of freedom through a choice of which element to focus on.
This activity is designed for students with a general understanding of the periodic table and geography. Knowledge of mining operations is recommended but not necessary.
View the Google MyMap on Lithium and Aluminum producers, either by interacting with the map on this page or by clicking HERE. Click on each location for a bit of information and some photos.
2. Complete the Google Forms activity/quiz on Lithium and Aluminum by clicking HERE. Start by choosing which element you would like to start with. You may do one or the other or both if you wish by the end of the Form. There will be resources provided for you to explore and learn from. After viewing these, answer the questions associated with your chosen element.
The Google MyMaps and the Google Forms both draw from a variety of online resources (which are listed below). You may want to double check them before doing the Forms with your students. The Forms requires students read a variety of source material, which may take a long time, maybe even the entire period or more, so keep that in mind.
Also, you can click Here to view the entire Google Forms.
Google Forms is a great way for students to self-assess their learning. The following is a self-assessment for students to either use as a study tool or for teachers to assess the progress of their students.
This self-quiz is designed for students who have already been introduced to “le subjonctif”. Thus, this activity is more for high school or even college-level students who are novice to advanced french learners.
Students simply have to follow the directions as provided. There are a variety of question types for students to answer. At the end of the quiz, students are asked to assess whether or not the quiz was helpful and then they are allowed to view graded answers (which excludes paragraph responses) to see where additional study may be helpful.
Another feature of this quiz is that it begins at different points depending on student confidence. If they feel less confident, then the quiz begins with the formation of “le subjonctif” after being given the chance to watch videos on the subject. If the student is comfortable with the formation, they are directed to the use of “le subjonctif”, which also has a video. If they feel like experts, they are asked to describe something important to them using 10 sentences with “le subjonctif” and 5 sentences that show when the “indicatif” is used instead.
As seen previously, the periodic table is quite the amazing tool. One of its uses is in relation to creating electronic configurations.
This activity was designed for high school chemistry students who have already been introduced to electronic configurations, visualizations of atoms, and have an understanding of the periodic table. A background in quantum numbers (and their meaning) is strongly recommended. This activity can be done either individually or as a group. Students can also edit this online or respond on a different sheet of paper.
Students are instructed to write electron configurations and identify valence electrons for given species, some of which are ions or transition elements. Students are then asked:
What species, if any, have completely filled valence shells? How do you know?
How do electron configurations relate to their periodic group number?
What do you notice about transition elements?
Finally, students are asked to relate electron configurations to previously learned material using a graphic organizer.
The goals of this activity are to:
Practice writing electron configurations
Relate electronic configurations to layout of the periodic table
Place electronic configurations in a broader view of chemistry
Practice critical thinking skills
The benefit of using Google Draw is a variety of activities can be done in one space. So students can immediately see how electron configurations relate to other material. Students can also use a variety of shapes and lines to edit the graphic organizer, creating a a visual representation of critical thinking. This feature can also be useful as an aid for explaining student reasoning. A variety of fonts are available for student responses, allowing for greater customization as well.
The instructor will need to assign groups and (may need to) set or change time limits for each activity. Directions for each activity are included on each slide of the Jamboard.
This lesson allows students to actively engage with previously learned material and permits better and deeper understanding of the material learned through a variety of activities that appeal to the visual sense while learning and working with their peers.
I know the word “chemistry” often has negative connotations. However, chemistry is amazing. It is found all around us (see the images below for just a few examples). From construction to digestion to reading the words on this screen, chemistry is at play (and maybe a little physics too but we shall leave that to the physicians). Now, the subject of chemistry is too vast to cover in this mini- lesson so I will focus on one part: reactions. More specifically redox reactions (also formally known as oxidation-reduction reactions). This post will focus on the two separate, yet inextricably liked, processes: Oxidation and reduction.
Note: This lesson is intended for students in general chemistry for high school and/or college classes.
Before we get started, there are a couple ideas to keep in mind. One is a refresher (or very brief introduction) on subatomic particles. Neutrons (no charge) and protons (charge of +1) compose the nucleus while electrons (charge of -1) kind of hang around outside the nucleus.
The second thing that will come up is oxidation states. Oxidation states are arbitrary numbers that help keep track of electrons. Oxidation states represent the “charge”, so to speak, per atom in the molecule. To quote Principles of Chemistry: A Molecular Approach, ” the oxidation number of an atom in a compound is the ‘charge’ it would have if all shared electrons were assigned to the atom with a greater attraction for those electrons” (Tro 2016, pp. 161). This explanation brings in the concept of the electronegativity of an element and how much a given element/atom/species “wants” to get/keep an electron. The higher the electronegativity, the more the species “wants” to keep an electron. Like Gollum in Lord of the Rings so desperately desires his “precious”, highly electronegative atoms want electrons.
Of course, there are rules for assigning oxidation numbers as well. A free element (not bonded to anything else and not an ion) has an oxidation state of zero. “Free element” also includes diatomic molecules with only one element (i.e. O2). With monoatomic ions (i.e. Cu 2+), the oxidation state equals the charge. So, for Cu2+, the oxidation state would be +2. Polyatomic molecules and ions is where it gets tricky. If the polyatomic molecule does not have a charge, then the sum of the oxidation states of the atoms. For example, H2O (water) does not have an overall charge. So the sum of the oxidation states of hydrogen (H) and oxygen (O) is 0. In other words, the oxidation state of hydrogen plus two times the oxidation state of oxygen is 0. So how do we find these oxidation states? Other rules. Certain non-metals have stated oxidation states. Fluorine has an oxidation state of -1. Hydrogen is +1. Oxygen is -2 (typically). Alkaline metals (Group 1A on the periodic table) always have +1. Alkaline earth metals (Group 2A) always have +2. After that, oxidation states become more flexible.
Electrons have a charge of -1 (AMU), protons have a charge of +1 (AMU) and neutrons have no charge.
Oxidation states are electron book-keeping. They can be thought of like “charges”.
Free elements have oxidation states of 0.
Ions have the same oxidation state as their charge.
The overall charge of a polyatomic molecule is the sum of oxidation states (accounting for number of atoms).
A few elements have specified oxidation states. The rest are more flexible.
The beautiful creature pictured above will help us remember an easy mnemonic for oxidation: Lion is for LEO and LEO is Loose Electrons Oxidation. There is also “OIL” (Oxidation Is Loosing) but oil is not as cool as a lion. Oxidation is the loss of electrons. We are loosing our negativity (electrons) and becoming more positive.
One example of oxidation is the formation of nitrogen monoxide (NO), so called because it has one nitrogen atom and one oxygen atom in a molecule. This species can form from a combination of diatomic nitrogen (N2), diatomic oxygen (O2), and heat. So overall we have:
N2 + O2 + heat —> 2NO
The oxidation states of N2 and O2 are O (they are “free elements”). That leaves nitrogen monoxide. NO has a net charge of 0 so the sum of oxidation states (accounting for number of atoms) is 0. This means:
1 (oxidation state of N) + 1 (oxidation state of O)= 0
where the coefficient of 1 represents the number of atoms. I know the oxidation state of oxygen is (with a couple exceptions) -2. I do not know that of nitrogen. But, I can find it with a little algebra. Assuming N is the oxidation state of nitrogen:
1(N) + 1(-2)=0
Ta-dah! I have now found all of the oxidation states in this reaction. But, how do I know where the oxidation was? The answer: compare oxidation states across the reaction arrow.
Overall, the oxidation state of N became more positive, meaning there was a loss of electrons. Lion means LEO and LEO is loose electrons oxidation. So, N was oxidized! But what about oxygen? That brings us to the topic of reduction.
A dog will help us remember the essence of reduction. When dogs make the face in the picture, they are usually making a sound akin to “ger”. Maybe you can even hear this photo. Regardless, GER is another mnemonic. It stands for Gain Electrons Reduction. There is also “RIG” (Reduction Is Loosing) but again, I prefer the animal. We have gained electrons and thus have become more negative. Electrons could be thought of like dismissive or pessimistic comments. The more we hear these comments, the more negative outlook we take on. However, negative comments, like electrons can lead to very positive things.
Since reduction is gaining electrons, we expect to see a more negative oxidation state in the products. Let’s go back to the example of forming NO.
N2 + O2 + heat —> 2NO
We know from earlier that nitrogen (N) was oxidized. But what about oxygen (O)? Lets look at the change.
The oxidation state of oxygen become more negative, which means oxygen gained electrons and therefore was reduced. This reaction shows a fundamental aspect of redox reactions: there is both an oxidation AND a reduction happening simultaneously! Crazy, right?
Here is a challenge to you: what reactions can you find that are examples of redox chemistry? How do you know? What species is reduced and what is oxidized? Or, on the flip side, what reactions are NOT examples of redox chemistry? Why?
Congratulations! You have made it through a (brief) lesson on redox chemistry! I hope this has sparked love towards chemistry, or at least made chemistry seem a little less daunting.
Tro, N. J. (2016). Principles of chemistry: A molecular approach (3rd ed.). Pearson Education.
This work covers a lot of the amazing loves I have adopted over the years, both of the animate and inanimate kinds. Sadly, not every item that brings me joy can be covered here. So, I have limited it to the following topics:
Arts & Crafts
I cannot help but laugh at jokes, especially nerdy ones. I have begun to collect chemistry-related jokes. Here is one: I don’t trust atoms. They make up everything!
I know. That was fantastic right? It might have already brightened you day. Maybe not. Chemistry humor is not for everyone.
I also include parodies in this section. This one might be my favorite. Yours too, especially if you like Star Wars.
Sometimes the right song speaks to your soul and you feel so positive, maybe even happy. Maybe it is the words themselves or the simple cadence of the notes. One of my go-to uplifting songs is Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield. Here is the video:
Another good one is from the musical Wicked. Click below for your viewing pleasure. You may even recognize the singers from their more recent works.
Don’t you just feel inspired after that? I do. Maybe I can go wash that pile of laundry or do one of my assignments now.
I have lived with pets all of my life and could not imagine their absence. With their adorable faces and beautiful personalities, what is not to love?
I cannot help but smile at these adorable puppies as they explore the outdoors. My family just recently adopted a new puppy, a red heeler now named Raiya. She is the cutest. She makes these little yips when she wants to play with Mae, one of our other dogs. She loves to snuggle too. Even our senior pup, Shamrock, wants to be pals with the new addition. In addition to these three cuties, I also have 4 miniature rabbits. Their names are Vader, Ice, Ash, and Mouse. Each has his/her own personality. I love cuddling with Mouse. She will sit with me for hours while I watch a movie.
New places and their cultures have always excited me. My favorite part about a long-distance trip is when the tires come up and the plane leaves the run-way. It means I am going somewhere new, somewhere different, with so much to see. I love discovering parts of places that I will miss and want to bring home. Often, it is food-related. When my family went to Amsterdam, we discovered poffertjes, a small pancake-like food. They dust them with butter and powdered sugar. Boy, are they tasty! We now have the special pans required to make them along with the mix used to make them. I have also picked up a love of honey from the Russian market, tredelnik, baklava, and couscous, just to name a few.
Now, sometimes, the funds to physically travel other places is rather… lacking. With novels, however, you can travel to another world in a second for a fraction of the cost! In all honesty, I haven’t always loved reading. When I was in grade school, it took a miracle to get me to read. All that changed, however, with the promise of a puppy. My parents made me a deal where if I read 3,000 pages, I could get my very own puppy. And so I did. That puppy is now 15 years old and her name is Shammy. During those 3,000 pages I discovered a few books that I actually enjoyed. One was the Prophecy of the Stones, though I forgot the author. Now, I am a bookworm and I dream of having a library like that in beauty and the beast.
Sometimes, it can be hard to picture the story of a novel as it unfolds. It is also difficult to share the experience of living in the author’s creation. TV can now address these problems. With minimal effort on your part, you can be transported into another dimension. You can watch superheroes as they defeat injustice. Or feel the pressure of an ER doctor. You grow attached to characters or cement your disgust of others. All of this happens through the use of a screen. One of my favorite shows is Criminal Minds. It has beautiful gems like the following:
… Arts & Crafts
This is a rather broad topic, I know. It covers everything from wood working to painting to sewing. To me, though, it is always fun to get a little messy. In high school, I took an art class and discovered the joy (and also the frustration) behind both oil and acrylic painting, and drawing. My mom introduced me to acrylic pouring and it is so much fun!! I have included a short video for an idea of what it is like, though there is so much you can do with it. Other projects on the docket include: painting on (birch) bark, creating and painting ceramics, and even beading.
My family is my core. I cannot imagine life without a single member, though 2020 had me contemplating that quite often. They are always there for me. I love my dad’s ability to charm and host. I admire my mother’s firmness in her beliefs, even when it costs her popularity. My brother is always there when I need help. I take for granted the bond I have with them. Being around them makes me smile. At least, most of the time it does. I do have my limits for social interaction. 🙂
In these times, I hope you can find something that bring you joy, if you haven’t already. Sometimes, it is too small to see. Sometimes, it is too big to miss and has been staring you in the face the whole time.