on the topic of Science Teaching
A simple word that always ignites a lot of excitement in my students. To them, chemistry involves mixing secret potions and creating large explosions. Planning for and teaching this challenging discipline isn’t always quite as exciting for me.
I can clearly remember the disappointment I felt during my own school years, when the reality of chemistry came into focus. Like most students, it didn’t take me long to realize that chemistry class was more about elements and bonding and less about blowing things up. I found the class somewhat boring and, at times, the abstract concepts were quite difficult to understand.
Fast forward nearly 20 years and I find myself on the other side of the classroom, trying to convey similar material while maintaining my students’ enthusiasm. As a seventh grade teacher, I often struggle with finding material that is suitable for my students’ age level, yet exciting and engaging. Over the years, I have surfed the web for resources, but I have found that many available lessons are either over-simplified or are so advanced, that even I have difficulty understanding the lesson. That is, until I discovered some of the most amazing middle school chemistry resources that I have ever seen!
In 2011, I attended a NSTA conference and decided to attend a workshop on solids, liquids and gases that was being sponsored by the American Chemical Society. I was somewhat intimidated by the fact that the ACS was sponsoring the workshop, but the description in the program assured me that it was designed for middle school teachers, so I decided to take a look. I soon discovered that the information that was being presented was good stuff. I was so impressed with the lessons that I stayed for the next four workshops! For the first time in my teaching of chemistry, I was excited about finding something that was relevant to my teaching assignment but also appropriate for my students.
Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing these lessons with my students and will be posting my planning strategies, my students’ reaction to the materials and ways that I extend and connect the lessons to the world around us. I hope that you find the lessons useful in teaching these difficult concepts and that you are able to ignite a spark of excitement about chemistry within your own students!