Caffeine

We all love our caffeine hit in the morning, but what is this magic ‘energy’ giving substance and is it actually good for us? The IUPAC name for caffeine is 1,3,7-Trimethylpurine-2,6-dione and the molecule has the following structure: By Vaccinationist - Own work, based on PubChem, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=54417143 Interestingly, you may notice that the structure is similar to adenosine and guanine (DNA purine bases) – the clue comes from the name. Caffeine is a psychoactive drug, which puts it in the same group ...

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 ...

Sigma, Pi, Hybridization and Shape

Sigma bonds, Pi bonds. Shapes of molecules. Hybrid orbitals. How do they all fit together? I was really confused with this information when I was a student. It wasn’t covered when I did my biochemistry degree and I only felt like I really understood things until I started teaching about the concepts … so I really hope this blog post helps your understanding of things. Where do I start? Well, the three above concepts (Sigma & Pi, shape and hybrid orbitals) are, in my ...

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 ...

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 ...

Dunning Kruger Analysis

Dunning who? Dunning Kruger Analysis is doing the rounds in my school – it's the current buzz phrase. I've been in this game for too long and am always sceptical of new initiatives, but this one did catch my eye and I think it has some mileage. The theory has been around for nearly 20 years and was first applied, like a lot of the new ideas coming into teaching via business models. The idea works by applying the idea the people who do ...

What Is Entropy?

Entropy is covered in the AHL part of the course: Topic 15.1 in the energetics / thermochemistry unit. The entropy change (symbol = S) in a chemical reaction is determined by as follows: total entropy change = total entropy of products – total entropy of the reactants You will have probably been taught that entropy is a measure of disorder. Order goes to disorder. The universe is expanding (and therefore getting more disordered). Liquid water has a greater entropy than solid water (ice) ...