Posts Tagged ‘students’

Goal: Be able to use the law of conservation of mass to write balanced chemical equations, identify the basic types of chemical reactions, and predict the possible products from a given set of reactants.

You must demonstrate your achievement of this goal.  In a blog post, (1) explain how to balance an equation and why it is important, and (2) describe different labs you did, what type of reaction it was, and provide a balanced reaction for each.  You have done synthesis, decomposition, single-replacement, and double-displacement labs.

You must also (3) describe how to predict the possible products that will occur from a given set of reactants, and (4) demonstrate your ability to predict reaction products.

As of the first week of March, chemistry students have conducted the below list of chemistry labs. Use this list to support your evidence of attainment of the above goal.

  1. Baking Soda to Salt Lab
  2. Limiting Reactants Lab
  3. Chemical Reactions Webquest
  4. Three Types of Chemical Reactions
  5. Reactivity of Metals
  6. Hydrate Lab
  7. Molecules of Candle Burned
  8. Molecules of Chalk In Your Name
  9. Covalent or Ionic Bonding Lab
  10. Halides Lab
  11. Periodic Trends
  12. Ionic vs Covalent
  13. Half life of Candium
  14. Isotopes of Vegium Lab
  15. Rutherford Lab
  16. Law of Conservation of Mass
  17. The quality of Laboratory Measurements
  18. Measuring Stuff: Tools and Skills
  19. Density Problems
  20. Lab Skills Lab
  21. Observations Lab

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This past month chemistry students have been learning how to convert between grams, molecules, and moles, so each day the bell-ringer/do-now/QOD assignment was a calculation of molecules of something familiar: chalk, candle wax burned, nicotine, aluminum foil, etc. I believe that each day’s practice helped solidify their understanding of the concept. So one day I asked how many molecules in a snow flake. Since we had to start with a mass, and I did not have time to determine the mass of a single snowflake, I turned to the internet and found Archimedes Notebook: How much does a snowflake weigh?  Thus, I gave the students the following information

Most snowflakes weigh from 0.001 to 0.003 grams, with a heavy snowflake coming in at 0.02 grams. Choose a mass within that range and calculate the number of molecules of water in the snowflake.

Thus, different students came up with different numbers of molecules, giving us a range of data.  Note:

The largest snowflake ever seen was 8 by 12 inches and was reported to have fallen in Bratsk, Siberia in 1971.

Most students elected to use the average of the lower two numbers, and calculated as follows:

mol snowflake

That is a lot of molecules. Adding or subtracting just one molecule of water would result in a unique snowflake. And considering that water is a polar molecule, the hydrogen bonding arrangement possibilities is mind boggling.

Then we have to consider factors that affect how a snowflake develops. NOAA gives this simplified explanation, which still is not the entire story:

A snowflake begins to form when an extremely cold water droplet freezes onto a pollen or dust particle in the sky. This creates an ice crystal. As the ice crystal falls to the ground, water vapor freezes onto the primary crystal, building new crystals – the six arms of the snowflake.

…The intricate shape of a single arm of the snowflake is determined by the atmospheric conditions experienced by entire ice crystal as it falls. A crystal might begin to grow arms in one manner, and then minutes or even seconds later, slight changes in the surrounding temperature or humidity causes the crystal to grow in another way.  ~ NOAA

From snowcrystals.com we get a bit more information:

Snowflake Morphology

Snowflake Morphology

We see that thin plates and stars grow around -2 C (28 F), while columns and slender needles appear near -5 C (23 F). Plates and stars again form near -15 C (5 F), and a combination of plates and columns are made around -30 C (-22 F).  Furthermore, we see from the diagram that snow crystals tend to form simpler shapes when the humidity (supersaturation) is low, while more complex shapes at higher humidities. The most extreme shapes — long needles around -5 C and large, thin plates around -15 C — form when the humidity is especially high.

PBS tried to get a definitive answer to this question “So is it really true that no two snowflakes are alike?” from physicists Kenneth Libbrecht, a physics professor at the California Institute of Technology and avid snowflake photographer, and John Hallett, director of the Ice Physics Laboratory at the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nev., and got the following response:

“It’s like shuffling a deck and getting the exact same shuffle for 52 cards,” Libbrecht said. “You could shuffle every second for the entire life of the universe, and you wouldn’t come close to getting two of the same.”

So, there you have it. While not impossible, it is highly unlikely given that there are a trillion, trillion, trillion (a 1 with 36 zeros!) different types of snowflakes.

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How Many Molecules of Chalk?

A Chemistry “Do Now”

Mole map

How much chalk does it take to write your name?

Figure this out!

Step 1. Mass a piece of chalk.

Step 2. Use this chalk to write your name on the board.

Step 3. Remass the chalk.

Step 4. Convert grams to moles, using the grams of chalk used.

Hint: Chalk is calcium carbonate, CaCO3

Step 5. Convert moles to molecules.

Step 6. Write and communicate everything you did and discovered in a visual.


Click on the image!


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Sustainability-dimensions-and-examples-3241422We can describe “sustainable resources” as renewable resources which are being economically exploited (used) in such a way that they will not diminish or run out.  People want or need to use the ocean’s resources but a balance must be maintained to ensure that they will be there for the future.

Over the past two weeks you have heard about marine conservation work, watched the movie “Blackfish”, and read from the text book about marine resources. With this classwork as a backdrop, blog about the following:

  1. What role does the marine wildlife and nature play in your life?
  2. How does the use of marine resources impact you on a personal level?
  3. Specifically, what new thoughts do you have about marine resources and the way they are used by people?

Finally, what Code of Ethics will you take to protect marine resources both now and in the future?

Criteria for assessment of your blog post:

  • at least three paragraphs in length (a paragraph is 8 – 10 sentences long);
  • each answer includes supporting information;
  • there is a link to a site that provides more information about a particular resource discussed;
  • a picture that provides applicable visual interest is embedded, with a citation to the original source.

Photo credit: UCL Inst. for Sustainable Resources

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Students in my classes are required to keep an ePortfolio and to blog their work.  This post provides background and guidelines for the blogging portion of student work. A blog isn’t about being a blog, rather it renders itself as a tool for communicating results, such as:

  • Responding to and commenting on curriculum topics as we study them
  • Creating written projects/ media projects and commenting on each other’s work
  • Reflecting on coursework and individual learning
  • Reviewing and sharing study strategies before tests and quizzes
  • Practicing taking varied points of view on a topic
  • Discussing current events
  • Making classroom suggestions
  • Creating FAQ pages on curriculum topics

Class blogs are subject to the following rules, which you must agree to:

  • I will not use any curse words or inappropriate language.
  • I will not use fighting words or provoke anyone.
  • I will avoid the use of chat language.
  • I will try to spell everything correctly.
  • I will only give constructive criticism.
  • I will not use my full name, or the name of my classmates.
  • I will not plagiarize.

Please note that all posts and comments are moderated for content before being published.

Consequences of Violating the Agreement

I recognize that breaking any of these rules could lead to any of the following consequences depending on severity and repetition:

  • warning
  • deletion of some or all of the post
  • temporary loss of blogging privileges
  • permanent loss of blogging privileges
  • referral to the school administration

Assessment Rubric for Blog Posts

Category 3 2 1
Content: Topic Specific topics will vary by assignment but must be related to science. Topic is related to school, but not necessarily science. Topic does not relate to science or school.
Content: Body Post includes a 1-2 paragraphs. Post is less than 1-2 paragraphs. Post does not include a summary, but includes a URL to an article.
Sources Blog post includes a hyperlinked references to additional clarifying information. Blog post includes a URL to additional information, no hyperlinks. References  are missing.
Images  Post includes an image with a caption and is hyperlinked to its original source. Post includes the URL for at least 1 image Post does not include an image.
Questions Post includes 2-3 (science-based) questions in your post. Post does not include questions.
Tags or Labels Post includes 2-3 labels or tags. Post is unlabeled and untagged.

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 “The scientist does not study nature because it is useful; he studies it because he delights in it, and he delights in it because it is beautiful.” — Henri Poincaré

Students are blogging for their portfolio in chemistry class. Their initial post is an assignment of introducing themselves. Here are student responses to the question “Who is the scientist within you?”:

~  Mariah   ~   David   ~    Gwen   ~   Krystal   ~   Megan   ~   Kevin   ~   Alex   ~   Alena   ~    Dakota   ~   Rachel S   ~   Corey   ~   Skylar    ~   Blaine   ~   Kade   ~   Mike   ~   Molly   ~   Lauren   ~   Jess   ~   Kassidy   ~   Cody   ~   Devin   ~   Cam   ~   Sam   ~   Isabella   ~   Devan   ~   Taressa   ~   Maddie   ~   Rachel D.   ~   Madison   ~   LeeAnne   ~   Nicolette   ~   Olivia   ~   Caitlin   ~   Michaela   ~   Haley   ~   June   ~   Elise   ~   Hannah   ~

“The great thing about science is that it rewards curiosity. We can continue to be childlike and constantly ask why, and not be judged or penalized by it.” — Elaine Chew

We love science!

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Instructions For Students Writing Blog Posts In Oceanography Class

Hopefully, this post will clarify questions students are having about what is “required” for a blog post. It is first important to understand the driving question behind the assigned topic. Know whether the topic is meant to be reflective or analytical. Verify the assigned length, and format requirements (first person or third person; headings required; formal 5-paragraph or not; etc.)

Basic Rubric For Blog Post

Writing can begin only after the assignment is understood and research completed. Always, ALWAYS keep track of sources. Now write:

  1. Make sure the post is going to the correct blog; many people have multiple blogs. When Ms. Goodrich assigns a blog post for oceanography class, make sure it appears on Ms. Goodrich’s Science Class Blog.
  2. The title should state the point being made in the assignment and NOT be the name of the assignment. Be clever! Consider how a news journalist would title the essay or article. Your post needs to stand out from all the others! Check out this post by Copyblogger: How To Write Headlines That Work
  3. Subtitles give clarity to the topic, especially if the cleverly written title could be interpreted more than one way.
  4. Blogs are visual. Include pictures – properly credited – and videos. Don’t forget that pictures require titling, also.
  5. The writing should make the reader want to find out more about the topic. Give the reader a place to go with links embedded in the text – at least three.
  6. Leave the reader with a provocative thought at the end of your post. Don’t let your readers go without making them think about your topic. You want them to believe that you are the expert on whatever it was you wrote about.
  7. We live in a world of search engines. Make sure your post gets found by categorizing your post “Oceanography” and labeling the post with key words. Use as many tags as apply. It’s all good.

Final requirement:

Do not bore. You don’t want to be bored, so write to excite.

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One month of casual moon watching just barely breaks the surface of questions that could be asked and discoveries to be uncovered. Our one month of moon watching in New England was further hampered by frequent cloudy skies that blocked moon sightings. Initially, most students resisted keeping the moon journals, because they felt that looking at the moon each night was a pointless exercise, having “learned” the moon phases in elementary school. These students are now juniors and seniors in high school.

The assignment called for students to, each day, record their sighting of the moon and shape a question about that sighting. Their drawings, observations, and questions were to be assembled in a small booklet, which could be purchased or made from a stack of file cards, with each day on a separate page. Each entry was required to include date, time, and an indication of altitude and direction. I provided the students with daily tide information, and several times over the month data was shared in class. Students who stuck with the assignment, particulary the “ask a question” portion of it, found it surprisingly interesting and gained new understandings. Here are a few of the questions they had:

  • What is the angle [degree of inclination] the moon is at tonight?
  • How fast does the moon rotate?
  • How many hours is the moon out each day?
  • How much of a change is there each day?
  • How can no moon be visible at all?
  • Why can’t you always see the moon?
  • How many craters are on the moon? How deep are they?
  • How high does the moon go in the sky?
  • Does the height the moon rises to change with the seasons?

Many students turned in work that was no more than hand-drawn phases of the entire month, as gleaned from an internet site.

At the end of one month, students were to write a full page analysis that demonstrated how their thinking proceeded during this work and comparing tide data with moon phase observations. Portions of their reflections include:

“While doing my moon journal out of school, I seemed to learn a lot. It rekindled the things I learned in elementary school, about the Moon’s waxing and waning phases. Following the moon phases was kind of cool. One thing I missed was the connection between the tides and the moon phases. We added tide heights to the moon journal entries we did at the very beginning, but I never found out the connection. I feel as though that is an important piece that I am missing. Overall, the Moon in the days we were assigned to view it changed a lot. I really got the feeling that the Earth and the Moon are orbiting in space, and stuff, because the moon was always a different height in the sky and was constantly changing phases. Hopefully we will be going over the whole tide stuff  because I am very interested in them.”

“Through this activity it has brought back memories of moon journals in younger grades and I hope to learn about these phases more during class.”

“When we started this project, I did not understand where we were going to go with it. As we started to observe the moon I found myself noticing things that I never would have seen before. I also never knew that the moon had so much to do with the ocean tides.”

“This assignment was ok. It got a little boring after a while because the moon would be the same shape every night. I did this assignment in Elementary and 8th grade as well so it wasn’t anything new. Asking a question every night got a little tough. It was hard thinking of moon questions that I didn’t already ask.”

“The information recorded in my moon journal included the time I saw the moon, the angle of the moon, and a drawing of how it looked. The journal shows its phases from waxing to full to waning. I thought this was very interesting. I also thought it was interesting the way the angle and time of observation were directly correlated.”

 Reading these reflections highlights the need for more work, both in and out of class. While we discussed our observations during the first two weeks, I thought I had lead them far enough that they could continue on their own, which does not seem to be the case. The students are also wanting me to explicitly answer their questions, rather than continuing on their own and discovering for themselves. This makes me unhappy because I wish for them to have ownership of their discoveries, rather than me sticking them with factoids. As I was collecting the journals, I asked the students “Did anyone notice that Jupiter was full last week?”, expecting questions about the idea that Jupiter could be “full”; not a single student commented.

The moon acts as a clock for the planet that drives the tides of the oceans, the great lakes, and other fluids. Most humans are too involved with other pursuits to notice the effects of the moon on the planet and their lives, but animals, such as fresh water fish and migrating birds, have not tuned it out.  What else does the moon affect? What if there were no moon?

My students will be asked to continue their journaling and their observations, and I am hoping they will make their own authentic discoveries.

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