Making esters

We carried out a great lab in school today, making esters. Have you ever done this? What was good about it was that we used a good range of reagents and got some very different results. I set the class up with a range of alcohols and carboxylic acids and told them it was up to them what they wanted to make. We used microscale quantities for two important reasons: 1, As a safety precaution The beauty of using the microscale quantities is that ...

Four new IB Study Guides Available!

By Wednesday, October 11, 2017 No tags 1

We are pleased to announce the release of four new titles to the OSC IB Study Guide range. Biology Internal Assessment, 3rd ed. SL & HL Ashby Merson-Davies This Guide provides practical support for the Internal Assessment for IBDP Biology, covering all the essential tools and skills, including guidance on statistics. It offers clear insights into interpreting the assessment criteria, using common software, and structuring the write-up. Chemistry Internal Assessment, 1st ed. SL & HL Dave Allen This Guide offers an up-to-date and practical approach to planning, writing, ...

Teaching optical isomers

I've just started to teach this topic to my students. It doesn't take too long but I do find it an enjoyable topic to teach. But how do you teach it? I always warn the students that the topic is jargon heavy - the words / phrases used in the topic such as  chiral, racemic, racemate, optically active are all pretty specific to optical isomers and are not used outside of the topic. In my teaching I have found that students understand the ...

Putting your course together

This blog post is primarily aimed at teachers new to the course …. But that said, even if you are an experienced teacher it is always worth reviewing how you do things. There are always lots of things to consider when setting up the course. Do you teach by yourself or do you share your group with another teacher? First things first I’m aiming this blog post at teachers who teach a class by themselves as in my experience, this seems to ...

The new EE – How are you getting on?

By Wednesday, August 2, 2017 , 0

The new extended essay (EE) guide has been out for a while now – how are you doing with it? Has it changed much in the way you set up and run your EE programme? From the chemistry side of things, I hope you have not seen many (if any changes). Students still need to carry out research and whilst not compulsory, will hopefully carry out some lab based research. That has all stayed the same. The research question (RQ) is also ...

Practical application of the ideal gas equation

How many moles of air are in your lab? What mass is this air? These are a couple of great questions you can set your students and ask them to come up with some answers using the ideal gas equation. You will need a barometer (to determine the air pressure), a thermometer (to determine the temperature of the lab) and a rule to calculate the volume of the lab and hopefully some imaginative students. I carried out this work with my class a while ...

Good Practice – Carrying out a lab

Here is an idea I got from a colleague of mine recently for a novel way of getting your students to plan a lab investigation. It is a model that could be rolled back and used in a variety of labs and it is very straightforward to do. Essentially, you give the students a task (for example, testing for halides) and then give the students a framework in which they can plan their own personal investigation. For example, you give them ...

Hot off the Press

A couple of recent articles in the science section of the BBC have caught my eye lately. The first one I read a few days ago or so ago concerned the atmosphere of Mars. It turns out that over time, most of the Martian atmosphere has been lost into space (how, I’m not too sure) but what caught my eye was the method used to determine the rate of loss of gas in the atmosphere to space. I have written about a ...

It’s that time of year

So here we are, April is with us and in the UK Spring is most definitely here. Which means one thing if you are in the second year of the IB diploma … exams. This year, the exams in chemistry start on the afternoon of Thursday 11th May (paper 1 and 2) followed by the morning of Friday 12th May for paper 3. Which, depending on when you read this, gives you around four weeks until the examination. So, how is your ...

Man Made Minerals

This blog post was inspired by a recent BBC article I read on minerals. The full article can be found here if you would like to read more (after you have read this blog post, of course!): http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-39133897 It has recently been announced that over 200 ‘new’ minerals (4% of the total known minerals) have been discovered – these minerals own their existence to us. As strange as it sounds, human behaviour has led to the formation of these substances. To me, ...