Why is graphite soft and slippery, while diamond is the hardest substance in the known universe–but both are just made of carbon? Why does xenon have a higher boiling point than chlorine? How does a solution of salt and water conduct electricity, while pure salt and pure water are both non-conductors? There are not simple explanations to these conundrums.
My final project is an amendment of a topic that frequently causes students a lot of frustration and low test scores: Structure and bonding of pure substances. The unit is intentionally lab-heavy. I believe the 75 minutes I have with my students is generally best served doing practical work, or helping students with the roadblocks. I don’t want to use this time to simply deliver content. If this sounds a bit like a flipped classroom, you’re not imagining things. One of the most valuable benefits of integrating technology into the classroom is the shift the lower-order thought process to outside the class.
My target audience is wide-ranging, but overall very academic students. It includes a large portion of students who intend on continuing to IB Higher Level or AP chemistry, but also plenty of kids who just need another science credit, and happen to like chemistry.
The main technological components of this unit are:
- Coggle mind mapping (new to the unit)
- Aurasma augmented reality (new to the unit)
- PhET state change simulation
- yLearn and Molecular Workbench interactive tutorials (expanded)
Last week I wrote about Coggle, a collaborative mind-mapping application based in the cloud. I believe this is the perfect tool for helping my students put together the seemingly-disparate pieces of information that is required of them for the study of the bonding and structure of pure substances. They will work in small groups to create a comprehensive mindmap of the unit. After 3 work collaborative work sessions, they will share it with another group, who will provide feedback using a rubric. Then they will be given some time to consider the changes that were suggested, and improve their mind map.
One of the ‘soft-skills’ that I hope this assignment teaches is idea that there is more than one way to organize information in your mind. Not only that, but there is a huge variety of ways to choose to present this information, even when constrained to a certain style of presentation (i.e. mindmapping).
The other “new to me” piece of technology is Aurasma, an augmented reality app. There are several authors, such as Richard Thornley, creating chemistry content free-of-charge. With the use of a smartphone or tablet, it allows 2-dimensional images to spring-to-life, forming rotating and animated images that are guaranteed to engage kids. In all honesty, I am not quite sure if these are truly all that useful or not (gimmicky?), but I think it’s worth a try. They remind me of Elements 4D, which could be either the beginnings of a revolution, or a mere flash in the pan.
These additions aren’t a total overhaul of the unit, but it will hopefully add a relevant and unique component to help students connect the dots. I would say that both the Coggle and Aurasma would be classified as “Augmentation”, in terms of the SATM spectrum.
I hope the lesson plan below can be of some use to people other than me and my fellow PLC members. I wrote it with a bit more detail than I would normally include, in an attempt to make it more ‘outsider-friendly’.