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Archive for the 'Chemistry' Category

Science Action Labs – Sciencing: Learning About the Scientific Method.

Posted by Mr. Oettinger on 15th February 2011

Science Action Labs -
Sciencing: Learning About the Scientific Method.
by Edward Shevick

Sciencing: Learning About the Scientific Method.This book is suggested for grades 4-8, but I find that there are some gems in this book that can be adapted to classrooms of any grade.

The book is organized into 23 hands-on science activities ready for student use.  I won’t lie, a number of the activities are pretty lame.  However, several that really shine will be discussed here.

Sciencing #6:
Hypothesis Lab
My favorite parts of this lab are the second and third scientific problems. 

One problem involves a pie pan with one-third cut out.  Students are asked to predict what path a small ball will take when rolled around the rim until it exits at the open end.  After discussion, students carry out this simple experiment.

The other problem involves two balloons filled with different volumes of air and connected with a stopper inbetween.  Students are asked to predict what will happen when air is allowed to flow freely from one balloon to another.

Both labs are fairly simple to do either as a class demonstration, or more ideally, as small group activities with your classes.

One can easily see how these activities can be adapted to a physical science curriculum about motion or equilibrium.  The balloon activity can even be adapted to a life science classroom discussion about homeostasis.  Or, use either of these activities early in the year as part of your nature of science (NOS) lessons.

Sciencing #7:
Consumer Lab: Comparing Paper Towels

One year, my students wanted to do a science fair experiment to compare paper towel absorption and strength.  It was a great idea, but I was a bit disappointed with their experimental design.

This book presents a fantastic experimental design that will surely improve on any students’ attempt to conduct this kind of investigation.  It’s simple and easy, and I wish I had thought of it first!

Sciencing #13:
Mystery Box Lab: Learning by Direct Evidence
This is the traditional mystery box lab in which students try to figure out what is inside a box.  This lab has the students creating their own mystery box.  A nice little lab for any NOS lessons.

Sciencing #20:
“Resilasticity” Lab or How High Will I Bounce
This is a nice quantitative lab in which students collect data on three different types of balls, calculate averages, and graph and analyze the data.

This is a great lab for a NOS lesson, a math or science lesson about quantitative vs. qualitative data, or simply a graphing lesson.  Every intro science class needs to do a lesson like this which combines all of these necessary science skills.

Sciencing #22:
Can You Learn To Think Metric
A great little lesson where students are given some exemplars of items in metric sizes, and then must make predictions about the metric sizes of various other objects.  Finally, students progress to learning how to use a metric ruler to measure things.

A fantastic lesson involving making predictions, abstract thinking, hands-on activity, math skills development, and experimentation.


All-in-all, this little softcover booklet is packed with several duds, but also several gems.  It is readily available for fewer than $10, so go get one today.

Posted in Biology lesson ideas, Chemistry, Inquiry, Life Science, Nature of Science (NOS), Physics, Science Pedagogy | No Comments »

100+ Reproducible Activities: Chemistry

Posted by Mr. Oettinger on 25th October 2008

100+ Reproducible Activities: Chemistry
100 Plus Reproducible Activities -- Chemistry.by Joan DiStasio

The 100+ series books are great for adding supplementary review and practice activities to your lessons.  Basically, these are books of blackline masters, ready-made worksheets to support your science curriculum, based on National Science Education Standards.

This chemistry book helped me out so much during my first year of teaching chemistry because it was a source of relevant practice problems on virtually every topic in CP chemistry.  An answer key is provided too!

You won’t be disappointed with this book and you will use it frequently.

Update 7/16/10: This past school year, I shared this book with the seasoned chemistry teacher at my school, and I noticed her using the worksheets during the entire year.  Great book indeed.

Posted in Chemistry | No Comments »

The Chemistry Classroom

Posted by Mr. Oettinger on 20th September 2008

The Chemistry Classroom: Formulas for Successful Teaching
J. Dudley Herron (1996)

This book is a nice little gem for a chemistry teacher interested in constructivism, inquiry, and cognitive research as it applies to the chemistry classroom.  Although this book is written by a chemistry teacher, this book can be a very useful read for teachers of other sciences.  From the back cover of the book:

“This book will help researchers understand reasons that students are not learning, and it will suggest things they can do to improve the situation.”

One of the topics I found particularly interesting in this book is the Principle of Least Cognitive Effort which, simply put, “dictates that, faced with a cognitive decision, we make the choice that would appear to require the least effort over our lifetime (p. 50).”  You will immediately see why students don’t do their homework or try to memorize vocabulary or complex problem-solving tasks rather than try to understand the process.

Written like a literature review backed by the personal research and anecdotal evidence of an experienced science teacher, this book is complete in its treatment of relevant details, and is an easy and enlightening read.  Highly recommended for any science teacher interested in developing his pedagogical chops.

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Posted in Chemistry, Constructivism, Inquiry, Science Pedagogy | No Comments »