Hydrogen

We are currently having a space themed week in school to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landings. not quite the 50th anniversary, more like 49 and 49/50ths (Armstrong walked on the lunar surface on the 16th July 1969) but as we break up on Friday it was the best the school could do. The students have a few days off timetable and are engaged in many different activities that relate to the moon landings. In chemistry, I guess we have ...

Chernobyl

I’m half way through watching the new HBO / Sky miniseries Chernobyl. Have you seen it? Here in the UK it has received some great reviews with some critics claiming it is the best TV series ever produced. Chernobyl, as you probably know was a nuclear power station in the Ukraine that exploded with catastrophic consequences in 1986. If you study option C, Energy you will look at nuclear fission and fusion in section C3. Chernobyl was a fission reaction. In a ...

Using Catalysts in Lab Work – a Slightly Different Approach

I imagine that, as teachers, we all carry out a hydrogen peroxide decomposition using manganese dioxide. We may also demo cracking where we use aluminium oxide or silicon oxide as a catalyst. This aside, do we really make much use of catalysts in our lab work? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5qvi20J5IM The other day I was carrying out a lab with my students that involved collecting hydrogen by upwards displacement of water, using magnesium and hydrochloric acid. We are also fortunate to have a fantastic lab ...

Colorimetry

I love carrying out colorimetry, it is one of my favorite types of labs to carry out and I do believe that as teachers, it is a really underused type of lab and undervalued type of lab. I always teach the theory first, covering the ideas behind the Beer-Lambert Law and the way that a colorimeter works. We will usually start off by getting the class to make up standard solutions of copper sulfate (0.1 mol dm-3 to 1.0 mol dm-3 ...

How do you do it?

Personally, I find section 9.2 one of the hardest parts of the course to teach. It relates to voltaic cells. I can never remember is it left minus right or vice versa, which side is positive, which is negative? In order to help teach this I put together a useful set of ideas / principles that I now use to help my teaching. It does involve some learning / memorization of facts but once these points are learnt, everything else ...

Simple Organic Lab Work

I love organic chemistry but am well aware that this view of things is not held by all teachers and students! However, I feel I teach the subject well, but when it comes to lab work I do not do so well and this is something I need to work on. Today’s blog post aims to help me (and you) overcome this fear by giving you an idea for a simple lab to carry out (once you have the necessary reagents ...

Supporting Your Students with Revision

At the time of writing, it is only February. I’m still making my way through the course but I am already beginning to think ahead to the end of the course and revision activities for my students. One activity I recently carried out in a teacher workshop involved getting the teachers to familiarise themselves with the syllabus and their perceived strengths and weaknesses. If you like, they carried out an audit of the course. However, in order to carry this out ...

Biochemistry Option: Section B8 Nucleic acids

The nucleic acids section of the biochemistry option now has personal significance for me. Towards the end of last year, I was diagnosed as having type 2 diabetes. This came as a bit of a shock to me. I was not overweight and have a relatively healthy BMI of 23.6. However, after a bit of digging round into my family’s history I found out that on my father’s side of the family, his brother (my uncle), his mother (my grandmother) ...

Diabetes

This section of the option now has significant personal significance for me. At the end of November 2018, I was diagnosed with diabetes. Initially, this came as something of a shock to me. I eat a healthy diet, don’t drink too much and am not overweight (I have a relatively healthy BMI of 23.6). Naturally, the doctors and hospital staff wanted to find out more. There are two types of diabetes, imaginatively titled type 1 and type 2. In simple terms, ...

The Halogens

Topic 3.2 of the periodic table deals with periodic trends. In particular, under the applications and skills section, we are told to 'discuss the similarities and differences in the properties of elements in the same group, with reference to the halogens (group 17).' In this month’s blog, I thought I would share with you my way of teaching this particular aspect of the course. It goes without saying that the halogens are toxic, poisonous and in general pretty nasty. You the teacher ...