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 ...

The Biochemistry Option

Proteins Proteins are a group of biomolecules (or biopolymers) that form enzymes and muscles in the body. They are the chief nitrogenous compounds found in living organisms but are still only approximately 15% nitrogen. The other elements they are comprised of is carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and a relatively small amount of sulphur. Proteins are made of amino acids which, as the name implies, are made from amino groups (NH2) and carboxylic acid groups (COOH). These groups are joined together via a carbon ...

Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde was recently in the news … But more of this later. To start with, you may be asking, what is formaldehyde? Formaldehyde is the non-UPAC name for methanol, CH2O, the simplest of all aldehydes. At room temperature, it is found as a gas (boiling point -19oC). It does have a dipole moment but due to its low Mr (and hence weak London dispersion forces), it has a low boiling point. It is found in the atmosphere and also in space. Due to ...

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 ...

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 ...

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. ...