Archive for the ‘Chemistry’ Category

Can You Believe This?!

A couple weeks ago a friend and I were walking down the street when we saw this:

Somebody slept through Chemistry class…good thing it was only Nitrogen!!

Earthquakes and Tsunamis

Coincidental to the earthquake in Chile and tsunami in Hawaii, my class is studying waves. On Wednesday we even studied the refraction of water waves and discussed tidal waves. I am glad we discussed the formation of tidal waves before this occurred so my students have a scientifically literate knowledge of what is happening.

We watched this video of an annual tidal wave and discussed that large waves are created when a large amount of energy in the deep-sea is forced into a more shallow area, causing a higher amplitude and faster wave velocity.

The important difference between a tidal wave and a tsunami is the initiation of the energy of the wave. Tidal waves are generated the same way as tides – by the changing distance between the earth and the moon. Tsunamis are caused mainly by earthquakes.

Most people think of a tsunami as a The Day After Tomorrow-sized wave that will take out all of lower Manhattan.

I guess the possibility of that happening one day is not out of the question, but tsunamis are not classified by being at least 30 meters tall. In the case of this tsunami, the amplitude of the waves have not increased more than 1 meter every 20 minutes. This might be the greatest change in amplitude that is observed.

The biggest concern with this storm is that the major changes in tides could cause an extremely caustic environment for the flora and fauna within the ocean.

The reason I’m writing tonight is not to teach you about tsunamis, but to stress the importance of using every opportunity to provide our students with an education rich in scientifically literate experiences. Watching the news today, I have heard too many people panic that a tsunami means ginormous wave that will inevitably destroy everything. I shutter at the idea that these people went to school for at least twelve years and never had a science lesson that corrected the “2012” inspired misconceptions about tsunamis.

This is why I teach science – to give students an opportunity to learn about the world around them.

NOTE: It may seem that your content area is not suitable for teaching about tsunamis (especially if you’re not a geology or earth science teacher!), but if I could work it into a physics lesson, you can work it into any science course! A biology class could discuss  the effect of the tsunami on the ecosystem of the Hawaiian Pacific Ocean, as could an environmental course.  A chemistry class could discuss how the changing chemical composition of the ocean will affect the organisms. Any way you do it, you’re giving your students a priceless exposure to scientific current events!

Chemistry Resources Online for FREE!

Free resources always make me happy :)

Educational Technology Guy has a great post with some Chemistry stuff.

Another great post includes useful search engines for science.

Online Periodic Table and History of Elements

I just stumbled upon this online Periodic Table. You can learn absolutely anything about most elements. I find it interesting that the historical names of the elements are included. It reminds me of the book that I’m reading right now!

Technology Resources for the Science Classroom

I’ve been collecting all sorts of different posts and links for neat internet and technology resources for the classroom. I hope they’re useful!

Can you tell I think Educational Technology Guy’s posts are terrific?

Happy 4th of July!

In honor of the 4th of July, here are 4 fun science links:

4th of July Science Projects is a list of 10 great ideas for homemade patriotic science fun! I especially like the Black Snakes recipe because it’s so much fun to light them and watch them squirm and wiggle!

Steve Spangler recently published an experiment on how to make Colored Smoke Rings in honor of Independence Day. So cool!

You can make Exploding Bubbles when you check out this NPR special. Theodore Gray explains how to mix hydrogen, oxygen, and soapy water to make really neat explosions. He’s also the author of the book Mad Science, which I’m adding to my wish list; it’s all things that go bang!

For some reason when I think of cool things related to the 4th of July, the second thing that comes to my mind after fireworks, of course(!), is a potato gun. If you’ve never used one, you’ve got to try it! SpudTech is a website where you can purchase potato guns, but it is always way cooler to build your own.

NOVA scienceNOW

While I was watching last night’s episode of The Colbert Report, I was pleased to see that Steven Colbert’s guest was Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, an Astrophysicist associated with the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Dr. Tyson hosts the PBS show NOVA scienceNOW. He described the show as an opportunity to share all parts of science with the public in a way that is easy to understand and interesting. The show’s website has episodes and information listed by scientific category: Health & Biosciences; Natural & Human Worlds; Physics & Space Science; Scientist Profiles; and Technology & Math.

I clicked on the link to Physics and found a great page all about CERN, the particle physics laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland. Websites like this are so important in expanding science literacy. Even now as I am reading Dan Brown’s book Angel & Demons, I am frustrated that his depiction of physics and of CERN are inaccurate, fully knowing most readers won’t do any research to find what information is correct and what is not. I hope that programs such as NOVA scienceNOW will aid in correcting myths about science.

For more information on Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, visit his official website.

Alien Juice Bar: Learning about pH

Recently, I learned about the Alien Juice Bar which is part of the Science View website of UC Berkley.

Basically, the Juice Bar is a website consisting of three challenges to teach kids about pH. Most simply, pH is the measure of Hydrogen in a substance. More can be read about pH at Kids Corner or ChemBuddy.

Part 1 of the Alien Juice Bar allows students to test various liquids with cabbage juice to discover where the liquid lies on the pH scale. Students mix the cabbage juice with a acid, neutral, and base and determine which is which depending on the color of the liquid-cabbage juice solution.

In Part 2, students know cabbage juice makes acids turn pink, neutrals purple, and bases green. They have to serve customers without making too many customers sick (or dead!) from the wrong concoction. Cabbage juice is available to test the liquids before serving. The best part of this challenge is the end when successful students are celebrated by an alien dance party!

The last section, Part 3, students must find the pH of six glasses and then use their knowledge of acids and bases to make the drinks more acidic or more basic. They are given several acids, bases, and neutrals to choose from in order to make any changes. 

This is a fantastic way to teach acids, bases, and pH!! Not to mention, it’s so much fun :o)