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, ...

Ethanedioic Acid Titrations

It's that time of year where if you are in IB1 you may well be starting to think about your IA. What will you do?! I hope today's post gives you some ideas. Have you thought about working with Ethanedioic acid (HOOCCOOH) or oxalic acid to give you its more common name? Ethanedioic acid occurs as a free acid in beetroot leaves and rhubarb. Could you extract it and see how much you have? You could titrate it with a base, such ...

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 ...

New Release: IB Chemistry SL & HL Option D: Medicinal Chemistry – Study & Revision Guide

We are happy to announce the publication of our new study and revision guide for IB Chemistry Option D: Medicinal Chemistry This book is a complete revision guide for SL and HL students preparing to answer IBDP Chemistry Paper 3 questions on Option D: Medicinal Chemistry. Focused on the syllabus requirements and with an emphasis on chemical structures to aid understanding, it provides the essential review, practice, and up-to-date advice needed to maximise marks in the exam.       Here’s what author Martin Bluemel ...

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 ...

Acid Deposition

The topic of acid deposition can be found in the SL section of the acids and bases unit, section 8.5. As a teacher, when I first read this title I had no idea what it meant, but, as with most things in the IB, the title is actually quite descriptive, once you know what the title means. The key word is ‘deposition’. It means (according to the definition in the online dictionary by Merriam-Webster), simply, ‘the act of being deposited’.1 So acid deposition ...

Superacids

The concept of superacids was a new on to me until the other day when I read about a chemistry competition that had been held in Moscow earlier this summer. You may have been in this very competition so, if you had, and I get something wrong, please do put me right! The competition asked students to 'design' (on paper) an alien blood that resembled the blood in the 'Alien' movies. If you recall, this blood needed to be capable of ...

Collision theory and mechanisms – linking it together

I’ve just started teaching the kinetics topic to my students and so far we have focussed on the collision theory. Have you heard of this? The collision theory explains to us what happens during chemical reactions in terms of the collision of particles. In order for a chemical reaction to occur, particles need to come together (collide) with sufficient energy (speed). This is called the activation energy (and is defined as the minimum amount of energy required for a chemical reaction). If ...

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 ...

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 ...