Everyday Life, Benzyl Alcohol and the EE

In my experience, the biggest problem students have with EE's is picking the right thing to investigate. Students will tell me they want to carry out an EE in chemistry and have no idea what they will investigate. Those that do have ideas quite often have ideas that are too simple or too difficult, never ‘just right’. Because of this, I would strongly encourage you to tell your students to keep their eyes open and look for an EE in ...

Dyes

I’ve just finished my summer reading book, Ken Follett’s novel World Without End. If you haven’t read it, I would thoroughly recommend it, although it is the second book of a trilogy (book 1 is called The Pillars of the Earth). The book I sent in the thirteenth century in the fictional city of Kingsbridge in the UK (although there is a Kingsbridge in the UK, the Kingsbridge in the book is not this town) and revolves around the Black Death. ...

Vitamin Chemistry

Vitamins are taught in the biochemistry option. However, the aim of this blog post is not to cover the exact requirements of the IB course. Instead, my intention is to give the reader an overview of the topic. So, what do we mean by vitamins? Well, vitamins are organic molecules that are needed in small quantitates in order for an organism to remain healthy. If an organism is lacking in a particular vitamin it will develop a deficiency disease. Vitamins will vary ...

Isomers of Water

A week or so ago I stumbled across an article on the BBC website talking about isomers of water. At first, I thought a mistake had been made and that the article should have used the word 'isotopes'. I was thinking it was something to do with 'heavy water', water that contains the heavier isotope of hydrogen, deuterium. How wrong I was. (There is a lesson here: don't make assumptions!) The article was talking about the nuclei of the hydrogen atoms. We ...

Gar Jar Demos

I’ve recently been doing some demos showing how the pH of the period 3 oxides changes. The demos involved the combustion of various period 3 elements with oxygen, dissolving the oxide in water and adding universal indicator to show the pH. It’s very visual and always goes down well with the students. This made me think about all the different experiments I do using gas jars and the fume cupboard and I thought I would list them. I generally demo sodium, ...

Inquiry-based Learning

The MYP is all about inquiry-based learning but how much of it goes on in your diploma chemistry. 'I don't have enough time' is a commonly heard sentence in workshops. 'I can only just cover the content in the time I had, let alone fit in something extra'. Well, if you do it right, inquiry-based learning it should help you to gain a bit of time. First of all, I am sure many readers teach DP chemistry but not necessarily MYP science, so what ...

Concept-based Learning (CBL)

CBL or concept-based learning is (and has been) a real buzz word in IB circles. But what is concept-based learning and how can you bring it into the classroom? I am hoping that this month’s blog post will give you some ideas that will motivate you to find out more about CBL and hopefully, try it out in class. CBL is driven by ‘big ideas’, rather than content that is subject specific. CBL also supports the attributes of the learner profile. ...

Visible Thinking Routines

We have just had some great INSET on 'Visible Thinking Routines'.  To be honest, I thought this was going to be some complicated and difficult 'new' way of teaching things (apologies for my skepticism) but as the session went on I came to realize that yes, it was something new for me to think about and do but it wasn't at all complicated. In fact, many of the ideas used I already use myself anyway: the INSET session just helped me ...

Differentiating Your Lessons

When I started teaching (22 years ago) differentiation was the buzz word. We had extensive lectures on it in my teacher training qualification, and the schools I carried out my teaching practice in were ensuring that all of their lessons were ‘fully differentiated’. Invariably, this meant having three worksheets up your sleeve, an easy, medium, and difficult one. You would then give students a worksheet according to their ability (this was labelled differentiation by task). There was also differentiation by outcome, where ...

Teaching the Halogens: Some Ideas

How do you teach about the halogens? I am in the middle of teaching about them and thought it was worth telling you how I introduce the topic. I do like this topic as it provides lots of opportunities to link together parts of the course. Firstly, I will start with some theory, things such as the fact that the halogens are diatomic and are the only group whose members exist as solids, liquids and gases at room temperature. This then leads into ...