Posts Tagged ‘Chemistry’


Last weekend I went to the annual SCONYC conference for New York City Science Teachers. Here’s a summary of the day:

Forensic Microscopy Workshop – My fellow TC-ers and I headed up a a workshop on forensic microscopy. It was a bit disappointing because it didn’t end up being as hands on as we had hoped, but I got a few good pictures out of it:

playing with a lens and camera

a classmate’s split ends – it was amazing that we could use the digital camera to capture what we saw in the microscope!

Operation Shellshock – Key Address by Lt. Richard Thomas of the New York State Police

There were a myriad technical difficulties, so we couldn’t hear most of his talk, but Lt. Thomas handled them well! He spoke about his experience working under cover to help stop the black market trade of indigenous New York amphibian and reptiles.

Active Physics – This was a fantastic workshop given by John Roeder of The Calhoun School in Manhattan. In my methods classes, we have worked a lot with different Active Physics activities, but I had never grasped how the curriculum as a whole worked. As John walked us through the curriculum, I was quickly convinced that I would definitely use this curriculum if given the opportunity! I’m heading over to his school in two weeks to observe him in action.

The conference was held at the incredible Stuyvesant High School in Battery Park City.

The school has escalators that travel two floors at a time. It also has these fantastic tiles I forgot to take a picture of: they are glass boxes with some sort of memorabilia from each year since the school was started. So cool! We even got to eat in a cafeteria that overlooked the Hudson River.

NY Center for Space Education – Katherine Brown, of the NYC Challenger Center, gave a talk and materials based on several different NASA-designed science curriculum. We even got free UV beads :)

If you have a Challenger Center near you, go check it out! They are amazing places and fantastic resources for professional development and field trips.

Joy of Chemistry – all I can say about this workshop is that I want to grow up to be as crazy as the two women who presented it! They spent the hour demonstrating awe-inspiring chemistry experiments and describing how they can be effective in the classroom. Their effort to remind us that science is fun was easily rewarded as the room was packed and we were all on the edge of our seats! They recommended reading the book “The Flying Circus of Physics with Answers” for us physics people and gave us the procedure for each of their demonstrations:

  • Floating Golf Ball (my favorite!)
  • Fortune Fish
  • Switch Pitch Ball
  • Magic Sand
  • Secret Message with Window Cleaner
  • Flash Paper
  • Naked Eggs
  • Blue & Orange/Gold Reaction
  • Collapsing Soda Bottle
  • Magic Birthday Candles
  • Soda Geyser (I learned you can use seltzer instead of diet coke – much easier cleanup!)

In addition to the workshops, we had a great walk through the exhibit hall. I’m hoping a few of the booths I left my name with will be sending some sample text books!

Posts for Teachers 2/11/10

Technology Stuff:

Teaching Tips:

Lesson Planning Stuff:

Other Stuff:

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!

Two Atoms…

To see the whole joke, go here!

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.

Book Review: The Scientists

I was browsing through a book store the other day when I found The Scientists: A History of Science Told Through the Lives of its Greatest Inventors by John Gribbon. I haven’t read the book, but it looks like a fabulous resource for teachers who want to know more about the scientists involved in the growth and development of science. I am really interested in using it to teach a science class chronologically – teaching content based on when it was discovered, rather than in the traditional format. The book would also be a great resource for students if they are doing projects or writing on individual scientists.

Publishers Weekly says, “As expansive (and as massive) as a textbook, this remarkably readable popular history explores the development of modern science through the individual stories of philosophers and scientists both renowned and overlooked. Prolific popular science writer Gribbin wants to use the lives of these thinkers to show how they “reflect the society in which they lived, and… the way the work of one specific scientist followed from that of another.” While he makes this case well, the real joy in the book can be found in the way Gribbin (who has made complex science understandable in such books as In Search of Schr”dinger’s Cat) revels not just in the development of science but also in the human details of his subjects’ lives. He writes, “Science is made from people, not people by science,” and the book weaves together countless stories of the people who made science, from the arrogance and political maneuverings of Tycho Brahe in the 16th century to Benjamin Thompson’s exploits during the American Revolution as a spy for the British and his later life as Count Rumford of Bavaria (in the realm of science, he studied convection and helped discredit the caloric theory of heat). Though the names and discoveries become more and more prolific as the book reaches the 19th century, Gribbin does an admirable job of organizing his narrative around coherent topics (e.g., “The Darwinian Revolution,” “Atoms and Molecules,” “The Realm of Life”), leaving the reader exhausted by the journey, but in awe of the personalities and the sheer scope of 500 years’ worth of scientific discovery.”

Gribbin has authored other notable books including In Search of Schrodinger’s Cat: Quantum Physics and Reality. I’m excited to start to build a library of his work in the near future!

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)