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 ...

Optical isomerism

Optical isomers are hard to conceptualise. They are molecules with the same molecular formula and structural formula. They look exactly the same both on paper and in the real world. However, they only exist in pairs, it is only possible to get two optical isomers of the same molecule which makes things a bit easier to deal with (it should be notes that a molecule such as C5H12 has three isomers - not optical isomers but structural isomers, namely pentane, 2 methylbutane ...

Synthesis of Aspirin

Aspirin has been with us for long time - the first documented reports of its use occurred over 2000 years ago. That said, the aspirin may not be in the form that you instantly think of (ie, a tablet) but it has been used all the same. Aspirin is an analgesic, which means it has pain killing effects and it has been well documented that the ancient Egyptians used a special tea made out of willow bark to treat a number ...

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 ...

PRE IB: Practical work – good practice

This blog was written by Dave Allen, an experienced IB Chemistry teacher. To read more Chemistry blogs for students and teachers, click here. This is the fourth and final blog post on pre-IB Chemistry. I do hope you have found the mini-series interesting and helpful, hopefully it will have talked you into deciding to follow chemistry at diploma level! This blog post will involve an introduction to lab (practical) work at IB level. You may or may not be aware that your IB ...

PRE IB: The Basics – Bonds

This blog was written by Dave Allen, an experienced IB Chemistry teacher. To read more Chemistry blogs for students and teachers, click here. Knowing your bonds (and structures). This blog post will (hopefully) refresh your memory on bonds and structures that you will need to familiar with in IB Chemistry. Firstly, the bonds When atoms join, we say they ‘bond’ and electrons are the part of the atom that are involved in bonding. There are two types of bond that this blog post will cover: Ionic ...

PRE IB: The Basics – Moles

This blog was written by Dave Allen, an experienced IB Chemistry teacher. To read more Chemistry blogs for students and teachers, click here. Yes, you have read that correctly – we get moles in Chemistry as well as Biology. However, our mole is not the small furry type – it's a number! You see, in Chemistry we count things not the obvious way (i.e., 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and so on) but by using a word – the ‘mole’ – to represent ...

PRE IB: Why Chemistry?

This blog was written by Dave Allen, an experienced IB Chemistry teacher. To read more Chemistry blogs for students and teachers, click here. This is the first blog post of four offering students advice on the IBDP Chemistry course (both SL and HL). The four posts will consist of information on the following: Why Chemistry? What is the attraction of Chemistry and what can you expect from the course The Basics – knowing your moles The Basics – knowing your bonds (and ...

Carrying out a good IA project

Have you stated your Internal Assessment(IA) yet? If you are a 'May session' school, this anytime from May of IB1 until December of IB2 seems a likely time that your school will carry this out with you and ask you to write it up. Which means that you need to get some ideas on what types of things you can investigate. However, the aim of this blog post is to give you some ideas for writing and carrying out a good ...

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 ...