SN1 vs SN2

I have not long been back from Oxford in the UK where I was running a revision course for OSC. One of the concepts that the students seemed needing clarifying was when to decide when an organic reaction was SN1 or SN2 so I thought it may be worth sharing this with you in this blog post: First of all, some definitions. S = Substitution (there are other types of mechanisms out there such as elimination and addition.) N = Nucleophilic (it is ...

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. ...

Redox Cells: Revision Checklist

When I teach about redox cells, I like starting with the Daniell cell. It is an example of the world’s first battery (cell) and if you remember the details of it, you can apply to same rules to any unfamiliar redox cells. First, a diagram of the cell itself: Hazmat2, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0) Note that the zinc half cell is on the left and the copper half-cell on the right. This is important to remember when it comes to ...

Global Warming

Global warming is still a topic that stirs a range of emotions in people. Is it real? Is it made up? Is it something to worry about or not? Will it actually affect you? But, love it or hate it, the topic is not going to go away. We have just had some training on how to teach this and I thought it was worth sharing with you. Take the premise 'Global Warming is going to cause more extreme weather patterns'. Then, think of the ...

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 ...

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 ...

VX – What is it?

Over this last month or so, the nerve agent VX has hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons but I did think it was worth looking at the chemistry of this molecule in this moths blog post. The obvious question is what is it? VX, or, to use the full IUPAC name is actually Ethyl ({2-ethyl}sulfanyl)(methyl)phosphinate. It is referred to as VX as it is a ‘V’ series of nerve agents (‘V’ stands for venom) and was first syntheiszed in the ...