New Things happening in Chemistry this Week – BCA, Baby

In my ever maddening quest to make chemistry less like a math class and more like “science” I’m going to try something new, again.

Last summer at the BCCE, I saw a great presentation about a new way to do stoichiometry problems called BCA.  It’s patterned after the ICE method of determining equilibrium constants developed (as far as I can tell) by Larry Dukerick at Arizona State as part of their Chemistry Modeling Program (link to slideshare presentation).

I, of course, am one to jump into the deep end of the pool without checking on the temperature of the water am going to give it a try with just a little planning

OK, maybe a lot of planning.  I have been modifying most of my class discussion to focus on the particle view.  Always relating back to the mole and how the mole and particle relate.  Labs are becoming more inquiry based.

I’m also trying another new idea.  I’m making students guess if they don’t know an answer.  This way, I can determine just how much they don’t know, and also it has lowered their inhibition about contributing to the classroom discussion.  A few socratic questions asked by me has been overall successful in leading the students to develop their own understanding of the many concepts while allowing them to be more involved in the discussion.

Right now, I’ve got my collegue going over the plan of attack for this thing.  If it passes muster, it’s 100 percent go for this year.

Biggest fear is do I abandon traditional stoichiometry or not?


double displacement reactions

trying something new….trying to build a particle model to describe precipitation reactions.  So far, students are  saying that drawing out the ions are helping them understand dissolving, combining reactants and possibilities for recombined products.

The use the solubility rules to determine which is insoluble.

Revisiting something old.  making them write down the rule that proves new molecule is insoluble.

Next up:  molecular; complete ionic and net ionic reactions.

Modeling chemical Reactions

The new trend in chemistry (which I agree with) is to have the students draw chemical reactions pictorially (models). I have been trying to incorporate this idea this year in chemistry, but I have this nagging “bug” in the back of my mind. “do the students need to know how to draw Lewis Structures before we have them representing molecules?

I remember the “Whole Language” idea that invaded the English classroom a few years ago which allowed students to ignore correct spelling of words, so they wouldn’t be throttling the flow of ideas onto a paper.

I feel that, without Lewis Structures, we will be doomed to repeat what history as deemed a bad idea.

I used to do an atoms-first approach to chemistry. Looks like I will be going back to this which can allow for Lewis structures before reactions.