Thursday, December 17, 2009

Have you heard?

Have you seen this man? Reportedly these items the man is disguised in cause the wearer to be exceptionally calm and intelligent when SOL testing.The jury may be out on the truth of these statements, but all my students passed!
  • Pictured above: pirate hat, penguin mask, yellow lei, number one finger, polly the parrot, and pirate hat as a beard.
  • Other possible disguises: chemistry king and queen crowns, sparkly tiaras, fuzzy tiaras, and magic wands.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Good Luck!

Good luck to all chemistry students on their SOL tomorrow afternoon.

Remember to breathe and focus. You know all of this. Underline important stuff and think about the right way to do math problems. Cross out one or two bogus answer choices, and take your time!

Good luck!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gases, Liquids, and Benchmark... Oh My!

We are cruising through the end of the year by finishing up odds and ends. We have finished covering gases, but we are still practicing math problems including Pv=nRt and PV/nT = PV/nT.

We have started liquids and have talked about the different kinds of solutions. We have briefly discussed molarity and will finish liquids tomorrow and after Thanksgiving. Molarity is the amount of moles in a solution and is a measure of concentration.

Today students will be taking their last benchmark to help them prepare mentally for the upcoming SOL (less than 2 weeks away).

Friday, November 20, 2009

Oops! I made a mistake!

Today students participated in a stoichiometry challenge entitled "Oops, I made a mistake!" where the students had to identify what I did wrong in the calculations. The mistakes were all different and students excelled at spotting my mistakes. I told them this meant they were not allowed to make any more mistakes on their own problems. :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Beginning Gas Laws

Today we started learning about the behavior of gases and the factors that affect them. Gases are lightweight fast moving particles that generally have a lot of empty space between them. Because of this, they are easily compressible (pictured left). If not contained, gases can spread (or diffuse) to fill any size and shape container.

Gases are affected by pressure, volume, number of moles, and temperature. Changing any one of these variables, changes all the others.

Today we also learned the formula for the Law of Partial Pressure. Basically partial pressures add up to form total pressure. If the total pressure is given then you subtract the partial pressures.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Limiting Reagents and S'mores

Today we discussed limiting reagents - basically the ingredient that limits how much products you can make.

For a S'more, you need a graham cracks (to break in half), a marshmallow, and two squares of chocolate. If you have 10 marshmallows, then you can only make 10 sandwiches no matter how many graham crackers you have.

In a chemistry problem, you have to take what's given to you and convert to the other thing that is given to you (so two sets of conversions) and then determine if what you NEED is what you HAVE. It's really a thought process applied to stoichiometry and unfortunately a necessary evil.

Students worked on practice problems and munched on a S'more while they worked. 20 seconds in a microwave and your marshmallow is ready for the chocolate and the top graham cracker!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Stoichiometry Quiz and Door Decorating

The Louisa Lions football team is off to the playoffs at Liberty and to show some spirit, there was a door decorating contest for third period. I am a mean teacher in an SOL class, so assignments came first, and then door decorating.

Angie led our door decorating team with major contributions from Kelsea, Kaitlin, Patrisha, and Kelsey. Many other students in the class were very helpful and happy to cut, paste, and whatever else was asked of them. The girls worked through lunch and came in for zero block to make our door festive and spirited.

We did not win, but we are proud of our door because it is awesome.

Today students took their quiz on stoichiometry (converting using moles) and they did AWESOME! The most points off was 2 and all mistakes were very minor. The students should be proud of their accomplishment in a tricky chemistry math subject.

We will be learning limiting reactants on Monday and as a reward we will do this edibly.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Measuring Moles

Today students measure how many moles and molecules of water they could drink. They took some measurements and then did some mole calculations to figure everything out. The determined how many moles and molecules they could use when writing a message with a piece of chalk, and measured sugar by biting into a candy corn pumpkin. There are some interesting statements written on the board.

Everyone should take this one to heart, "If there is faith that can move a mountain, it's faith in your own power." I know that the students can do these calculations and most of my time these days is walking around confirming the student is right and pep-talking. They can do it... they just need to believe that they can.

Students then worked on practice problems for empirical formulas and percent composition. There will be a small quiz on Friday and students will continue to practice.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Percent Composition

Today students learned how to calculate percent composition based on formulas using molar mass and based on weights from word-based math problems. Once they got the hang of it, it was time for Science Friday festivities.

Students each had a piece of gum - one they brought in or one from me. They all brought in chewing gum (even though the board said bubble gum) and I brought in bubblegum, so there was some trading. Students observed the gum by weighing it, drawing it, and smelling it.

Next they chewed the gum for ten minutes. While they were waiting we watched How Its Made on bubblegum which is linked to the side if you want to see it (and then another episode about potato chips because we had time). We also had a little fun blowing bubbles. Ethan could blow the biggest bubbles.
After ten minutes, students did more observations and re-weighed the gum. The gum weighed less... why? Because the sugar dissolved and was lost. Using this weight difference, students determined the percent composition of sugar in the gum they chewed. We worked on making a data chart to make some comparisons and we will finish this on Friday.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Guest Speaker and Mole Evaluation

Today students practiced moles and then took a short quiz about moles. They are all nervous about it, but I knew they could do it!

Then students listened to a guest speaker, Mr. Stuart Marshall, one of my former students who is now a funeral director. Mr. Marshall works in a chemistry-related field because bodies need to be embalmed or cremated. He also talked about how important it is to go to college and get an education. He started at community college and then moved onto a four year school. Students enjoyed the talk and asked a lot of questions.

Tomorrow we are going to have Science Friday and learn about Bubblegum and percent composition.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mole Practice

Today students took a mole challenge to see how much they knew about moles... besides their favorite number. The high score was a 9.5/10 so I must have stumped them. They did do better than they thought they would... and most of them were a bit mad when they saw what the answers were to the ones they didn't know.

For moles there are basically three conversions to know.
1 mole
6.02 x 10^23

1 mole
(molar mass) grams (add weights from PT)

1 mole
22.4 Liters

Today we learned about Avogadro's theory about gases and then practiced converting using our new favorite number, 22.4. Avogadro, that handsome devil, did a lot of important stuff with moles and is also the guy who gave us our other favorite number 6.02.

Everyone seemed to have the hang of things so we got out the white boards and did some practice problems. Everyone tried the problems and erased any mistakes with ease. I know they know it even if they feel a little overwhelmed. Kristina and Elijah are pictured here concentrating and working out mole math problems.

Tomorrow the students will have a quiz and a guest speaker. The guest speaker is Mr. Marshall, one of my former students, who is know a funeral director using chemistry in real life.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Element for President Poll Results

Thanks to everyone who came out and voted for Element for President. With over 250 votes cast, your new Element President is……

Platinum (Amy)

The rest of the top 10 are…..

2nd Germanium (Kelsea)

3rd Antimony (Angie)

4th Potassium (Ryan)

5th Argon (Lisa)

6th tie - Radon (Steven) and Actinium (Amanda)

7th Xenon (Elijah)

8th Neon (Kristina)

9th Molybdenum (Megan)

10th Boron (Kelly)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Moles - the Beginning

Today, students started the day with a small review about coefficients, subscripts, and how to count atoms. We covered some of the material that was on the last benchmark and answered some questions and had a small discussion about test taking skills.

Then we started talking about moles. Moles are used to count atoms. There are 22,000,000,000,000,000,000 quintillion atoms in a grain of sand and even counting grains of sand is a pain. Because atoms are so tiny, we use the mole to estimate.

There are 6.02 x 10 ^23 molecules in one mole. That's a whole lot. This is our new favorite number because it needs to be memorized. We practiced converting from moles to molecules.

Next we discussed molar mass. Molar mass = 1 mole and it also equals atomic mass from the periodic table. To find the molar mass of carbon dioxide you find the mass of carbon and two oxygens and add them together. Finding molar mass is not difficult unless the molecule has tricky subscripts (which we have been practicing).

Homework tonight includes identifying parts of a reaction (unit 4 stuff) and finding molar masses unit 5 stuff).

Tomorrow is Election Day for Element for President! We will see which element campaigns the best!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Element for President

Student projects for Element for President were due today (with no penalty). The election includes members from my chemistry class as well as three of Mrs. Wooodward's chemistry classes. There are not many elements that are not participating.

After school, we started hanging the posters, buttons, and bumper stickers for the candidates. This bulletin board has many of the buttons and bumper stickers. Many of them are very creative and artistically well done.

We arrange the posters on the wall the same way a periodic table is set up. You can see we are missing a few candidates, but more will be hung up on Monday. This part of the periodic table is well represented by my class.

Elections will be held on November 3rd and many of the science classes will be voting for the element that has the best campaign.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Element for President - Day 1

Today you will be working on the Element for President project.

On the right hand side of the page you will find excellent links to online periodic tables that are full of information. This is the best way to start. Please do not 'google' your element unless you have tried all the links and books that are provided.

Your primary focus should be getting the information for the fact sheet first. When you are ready to submit all of that information -
click here and type in your info. Then you want to work on your campaign poster, button and/or bumper sticker. The requirements are outlined below.


Campaign Posters should be neatly done and include the symbol, name, atomic number, and the mass number for your element. They should be in color because color is more eye-catching. They may either be hand-drawn or done on a computer, but the work needs to be done by only you. Campaign posters should be the same size as a regular sheet of paper (8½” x 11”).


Campaign buttons and/or stickers must include the name or symbol of your element and a campaign slogan. Your slogan should be more creative than “Gold for President!” The cheesier the better. Again, color is more eye-catching. They may either be hand-drawn or done on a computer, but the work needs to be done by only you.

This project is due on October 30, 2009
Campaigns will be held on Election Day, November 3, 2009

5 points will be deducted every day that your project is late and you may be disqualified from the campaign. You will be given some time in the computer lab to do research, and some time in the classroom. Additional work will need to be completed outside of class.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mole Day continued

Mole Day festivities continued today after students completed a review sheet and asked questions.

Ryan scored the highest in the Avogadro Cup competition for Mole Day. He one of the smallest averages for Pin the Nose on the Mole, scored a lot of Mole in Ones, and did an awesome pers-mole-ality of Elijah entitled "Molelijah."

Friday, October 23, 2009

Happy Mole Day!

Today is Mole Day! Mole day celebrates Avogadro's number of 6.02 x 10 to the 23rd power a ginormous number that helps us keep track of itty bitty atoms.

Students started mole day with a reading to get them familiar with moles, why they are important, and what that big number is really all about.

Students came up with team names related to moles and designed team flags. Then teams started in on the Avogadro Cup with silly activities related to moles (both animal moles and scientific moles. Here Chris participates in Pin theNose on the Mole after he has been turned around 6.02 times. Here students are particpating in the Mole Hunt and trying to find all the moles I have hidden in the classroom. They kept trying to get me to give them the answer because they were getting frustrated. Here Kaitlin tried to get a Mole-in-One from the distances of 6.02, 10, 22.4, 23, and 32.
Other activities included making mole-personalities and actually trying to figure out some chemistry-related moles stuff. This is new to the students and we will be going into that in more depth in out next unit which is all about moles and stoichiometry. More information about moles and mole day can be found here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Le Chatlier

Today students learned about reaction rates and how to increase them. They also learned about reversible reactions and how le Chatlier's principle influences shifts of equilibrium in reversible reactions.

Basically as you apply a stress to a system, the system will shift in response to the stress. If you add one of the molecules it will shift away from that molecule. If you take away a molecule, it will shift towards it to make more. Heat works the same way.

Pressure is the tricky one. If pressure is applied to an equilibrium, then the reaction will shift to the side that has the least amount of molecules (count the coefficients).

Monday, October 19, 2009

Benchmark 2

Today students completed Benchmark 2. Huddled in sweatshirts and borrowing extras, students were hard at work underlining and crossing out bad choices so some of those test taking skills have sunk in. Grades will be given tomorrow and we will go over the material on the test when students who were absent have taken the test.

Any student bringing in a signed grade sheet will receive extra credit points. Any questions about grades should be directed to my email -

Friday, October 16, 2009

Review Games

For today's jump in, students had to try to remember everything they could about a reaction graphs. Surprising to them they did pretty good.

For the rest of the class, the students answered review questions and practiced SOL questions in rounds. By competing in rounds, more people can win and a different group one each round. Students asked questions when they had them and overall everyone got some good review.

The next Benchmark is on Monday.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Endothermic / Exothermic

Today we practiced naming compound and reviewed types of chemical reactions. We took a smidgen of notes and started a lab. It is important not to have your hair in your eyes or in front of your goggles... and some people with need reminding... not me... I just let it stick straight up.

Today's lab was simply mixing a chemical with water and measuring the temperature change. One reaction was endothermic and the temperature dropped to 9*C. The other reaction was exothermic and released heat reaching above 30*C.

Students were able to measure the temperature change with the thermometers and also feel the temperature change by holding the beakers. Kyle thought it was pretty neat to feel the temperature change, but admitted that we don't need any endothermic reactions in this classroom - it's cold enough already!

The lab write-up includes graphing and answering some questions. Labs are due Monday. Students will also be taking a benchmark on Monday.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Identifying Reaction Types

We started by talking about the simple definition of the terms, what the probably products and reactants are and went over a basic formula for the reaction types the students need to be familiar with.

Reaction Types include:
  • synthesis
  • decomposition
  • singe replacement
  • double replacement
  • combustion
  • endothermic
  • exothermic
  • oxidation-reduction
  • neutralization
After discussing the basics, we drew cartoons of stick men and women going on dates to show how atoms move around in the simpler reactions. The picture posted is someone else's version of single replacement (see the one guy switches with the other) (I would take a photo, but my camera is out of commission at the moment). For more help with this, check here.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


While we are practicing bonding and naming, things are more exciting if they are worth points and points are worth prizes.

Yesterday Katelyn and Kristina tied with Elijah and Chris for the most points bonding and naming and were awarded glow in the dark vampire teeth. This of course spiked a discussion about Twilight and Halloween. Chris was excited for his very first win, but what he didn't see that I did was all the great discussion and explaining that went on between partners as they all tried to earn the maximum number of points per question. There was learning happening.

Today we went over SOL questions that relate to this unit's material. Some of these were fairly straightforward, but SOL questions sometimes are tricky too. Points were awarded for good underlining, good crossing out, and answering questions correctly. So points for being right and points for good test taking skills. I think that most students know how to these, but don't actually do it most of the time when they should. Brittany and Ashleigh beat out the competitors by more than four points for their own vampire teeth.

Students completed the first portion of their test and will take the rest tomorrow to finish up this unit on bonding and naming. The good thing (or bad thing) about bonding and naming is that it doesn't go away... we will be using this information in the next unit also.

Friday, October 2, 2009


Today students realized that they knew how to bond and name the compounds, but not when to do which kind. We went over ionic and covalent bonding and when to do it and then had a quick challenge. Katelyn and Kelsea both got a perfect score.

Then we practiced. Students worked through some practice problems on their own recieving help when they needed it and then practiced some of the vocabulary terms in a crossword puzzle. Yesterday we practiced vocabulary terms by playing Bingo for Halloween pencils so students had already practiced the terms. Yesterday Katelyn also dominated on the counting atoms challenge.

Students finished with around the room bonding where they took on the properties of a certain type of atom and had to find people to bond with. When you are an anion, this is easy because you can bond with everyone. It is a little more difficult to be a cation because you can only bond with anions.

Students have a test on bonding and Unit 3 on Tuesday.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Covalent Bonding and Bonding practice

Yesterday students learned about covalent bonding and used their knowledge of valence electrons to draw structures and connect unpaired electrons with other unpaired electrons to 'hold hands.' Students also practiced writing formulas and naming covalent compounds with prefixes. They practiced by making new BFF (Best friends forever) to get a 'bathroom pass' with. This is because in our simulations, anions, negative ions, represent girls, and a lot of the times it seems that girls need friends to go with them to the restroom. Everyone got a good giggle in and did some excellent covalent bonding with very few mistakes.

Today students learned a few more key terms like monatomic, diatomic, and polyatomic molecules. We discussed polar and non polar covalent bonds and how they share their electrons. POLAR BEARS DON'T SHARE is the way to remember that polar bonds are when electrons are shared unequally. Water is a polar molecule because oxygen doesn't share its electrons equally with the hydrogens. This is why water is sticks together in long drops when it drips.

Students practiced more covalent and ionic bonding and seemed to have very little trouble with it. We are looking at a test at the beginning of next week after a bit more practice.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ionic Bonding

Today students practiced ionic bonding by doing a little speed dating. Each student chose an element that was an anion or cation, designed a little person to embody that element, and recorded some basic information about the element based on its placement on the periodic table.

Students then took turns 'speed-dating' with other students by criss-crossing charges, bonding, and naming the ionic compounds they formed. Students were able to practice writing formulas, naming, when to use roman numerals, which ion goes first and more. To the right, Elijah takes advantage of Angie's height as they bond their elements.

After one round, students changed from positive to negative (or negative to positive), made another identity and then practiced bonding all over again. By working with various partners, they were able to help each other work out the problems and answer each others questions. If you look closely, you can see the girl that Kyle drew to be an anion, a negatively charged ion. His cation personality was a man wearing a tophat and a mustache.

Tomorrow students will learn and practice covalent bonding and I have a feeling that more speed-dating is in the works.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Chemical formulas

Today students reviewed Lewis dot structures and how to find charges. Everyone has a good handle on this and did well on their little quiz.

Students learned how to decode the charges of the metals in the middle. Transition metals, inner transition metals, and metals under the stairs do not follow any sort of pattern when it comes to charges, so they are always given (or you can figure them out) based on a code of Roman Numerals.

Today we also discussed how to write chemical formulas, and what the numbers associated with a chemical formula mean. Coefficients are the big numbers in front and are distributed to the whole molecule (which means you may have to multiply). Subscripts are the little lower numbers and they indicate the number of atoms and only apply to the atom it is to the right of. Students wrote their name as a chemical compound and thought it looked pretty interesting. Some students have long formulas, other short. Even twins do not have the same chemical formula.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Valence Electrons

Students did very well on their Unit 2 Test on the periodic table and were happy to receive their grades.

We have now moved on to Unit 3 Bonding and Nomenclature. Students picked their own groups and had new teams to work with.

Today we learned about valence electrons, how to find them, and why they are important. Valence electrons are the outermost electrons and they are important because they participate in reactions and help you identify an atom's potential charge.

Once you know the number of valence electrons, you can use that information to figure out which noble gas that element wants to be like (noble gases are hip, cool, and happy because they have a full 8 valence electrons), and if they need to gain or lose electrons to be like that atom.

After learning the information, students participated in some practice and then whiteboard jeopardy. Kelsea and Angie led the practice round, but the boys (Kyle, Ryan, Justin, and Elijah) won in competition. Congratulations. Students will have a small quiz on this material tomorrow and will learn more about bonding and molecules.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Computer Lab Day

Today you are going to be working on a variety of online learning, puzzles, and games. Please go in order and record the required information. If you are somewhere other than these pages or this website, then you will be removed from a computer.

Yes, I have given you more than you could possibly do (well, unless your name is Patrisha). If you have internet access at home, feel free to try more of these or go sign up for zero block tomorrow. Your Unit 2 Test is tomorrow.

To play the games, right click on the underlined text and choose "open in a new tab."

1. Periodic Table Jeopardy Grab someone near you and play together (this is the only game to be played with partners. Otherwise play by yourself. Spelling does count in this game. Record your score.

2. Element Math Game Choose 10 questions, and yes for the rounding question. Record your score.

3. Shepard Software Games
A. Choose "Element Matching Game." Record your score.
B. Choose "Level 1 - Beginner - Common Elements." Record your score.

4. Bubble Game Test you knowedge of noble gases, alkali metals and halogens. Record your score after each round.

5. Chemistry Battleship Change the computer setting to easy. Try to sink the opponent's ships while answering chemistry questions. Did you win?

6. Matter Millionaire Record your high score (two play maximum)

7. Matching Game - Check off that you completed it.

8. Free Rice - Test your knowledge of elements and their symbols while donating rice to the UN World Food Program. Record the amount of rice you have donated as well as your skill level.

9. 23 Element Matching Game - Check off that it is complete.

10. Element Crossword Puzzles - Pick one and try it. Record how you do.

These don't work (But I need to save them somewhere else. They may work on your personal computer)
David Whizzy's orbital filling and view
Build Atoms

You sunk my battleship! (the electronic configuration version)

Battleship, a classic game by Milton Bradley, is a game easily adaptable to learning electronic configuration.

Electronic Configuration is a mathematical calculation proposed by Schrodinger as a way to predict where to find an electron around the nucleus in the electron cloud model.

We learn it as a way to give directions to an element following a pattern going across and then down on the periodic table.

There are four main parts of the periodic table known as orbitals. The S block, P block, D and F. Within each block, you just count over how many spaces it is.

So to identify Hydrogen you would say 1s2 because it is in the first period, in the s block, and the first member of the first block.

Everyone seemed to get this concept, but there was a little confusion (as I expected). Playing battleship was an excellent way to really practice identifying electronic configuration and get straight some of the silly oddball rules. I don't think the students realized how much they practiced as they attempted to sink destroyers, submarines and battleships. Here Angie concentrates as she attempts to sink one of Elijah's boats.

The test for Unit 2 on the Periodic Table will be on Tuesday.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fireworks and Metal Lab

Today students performed a laboratory experiment that involved metals and their electrons. Students had watched a video clip the previous day about the making of fireworks (this video is in the bar to the right if you want to learn about the makings of fireworks too (or relive it if you've seen it already)).

Gunpowder is used to get things going and explode the firework into the sky. The gunpowder in different parts of the wrapping also helps explode the fireworks outward so that the colors spread.

Different metals are used to produce different colors in fireworks. This is because of the electrons of the elements. The more excited the electrons become the more light will be produced. This also affects the color that is produced. Red colors have the least amount of energy. Blue and purple have the most amount of energy.

I took photos during the lab, but had some trouble capturing the intensity and brightness of the colors. Just ask a student how cool it was. :)

For more information about fireworks, check out the following links and watch the video in the sidebar. - Chemistry of Firework colors
Thermodynamics - Fireworks

Other Metal Lab Clip

Blurry, but easier to see colors produced. This is from Chris and Kyle. And as Chris points out in the audio, this flame is dangerous and beautiful.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Today students took their first benchmark covering material from Units 1 and 2. Questions were modified from actual SOL questions and designed to make the students think and apply their knowledge.

Although the average score is passing, many students will find they did not score as high as they would have liked. We will be reviewing the test as well as the material on Monday.

We will finish the notes on for Unit 2 on Monday and students will review concepts for a few days before taking the Unit 2 Test on Thursday.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Periodic Table and Electron Shells

Students have been learning about the periodic table and all the parts, regions, periods, groups, and more. There is a lot of terminology that goes with this awesome tool. In zero block practiced some of these concepts by playing Guess Who. I picked an element, and they took turns asking yes or no questions using the correct terminology to narrow down 118 elements down to one. Students enjoyed the game and we will be playing it again to review terminology.

During class today students practiced identifying periods, groups, and special families. Students reviewed the 'Dudes' (important scientists) and the discoveries and models they formulated and then took a tiny quiz for assessment.
Student discussed properties of metals, nonmetals, and metalloids and learned where to find them on the periodic table. Despite technical difficulties information was conveyed. We finished class with a discussion about electron shells and where electrons can be found in the electron cloud and how this correlated with the way the periodic table is set up. Everyone seemed to get it and we will know for sure when we talk about homework tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Beanium? Is that a real element?

Today students started a new unit on atoms and periodic table. Students were assigned a short reading over the weekend from the Idiot's Guide to Chemistry about atom models and the scientists who studied atoms. Thank you to the students who completed the homework.

Students started today's class with a BrainPop about atom models and took the quiz. Kaitlin and Chris rocked the quiz with a 10 out of 10! Students then took noted and drew atom models for the different scientists. We had some interesting discussions about spending your life studying atoms and how that may or may not seem like a waste. All of the scientists we discussed have received Nobel Prizes for their work in chemistry.

Atoms are really tiny and we need special microscopes to see them. Here is a neat website with pictures of atoms on a very small scale. This is an atom of Xenon on a Nickel surface.

Next we discussed atoms, the particles that make them up, and some basic identification. Students were given a sample of beans (Beanium) that represented an atom and asked to determine which atom it could be by counting the subatomic particles. Finally students made up their own sample of Beanium that another student will be checking tomorrow.

Friday, September 4, 2009

End of the Unit

Today students tested their knowledge on endothermic and exothermic reactions, vapor pressure and specific heat, and some SOL questions before taking their test.

Kyle, Kristina, and Katelyn tied for first place with Cassidy, Kelsey, and Ashleigh on the SOL practice questions. They each only missed one question. Everyone else did well on the questions too.

Students took the test and then worked on late and missing assignments. Students then worked on Marshmallow Madness - applying scientific principles to a Marshmallow.

Students have a reading about atoms to complete over the weekend and we will start Unit 2 Atoms on Tuesday.

Have a fabulous Labor Day weekend.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Calorimetry Lab

Today students saw specific heat and heat capacity in action! This is almost all of the equipment it took to perform this lab.

Students used a calorimeter to measure how much the temperature of a metal changed over time and measured how much the added metal changed the temperature of water. By doing this, students can see how metal heats up quickly and water takes a long time to cool down. They had to do a crazy calculation to figure out the specific heat.

Students have a test on Unit 1.5 on Friday and all work is due at that time!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Today we did a lot of different things. We started off reviewing solutions (homogeneous mixtures) and suspensions (settle over time and need to be shaken). Then we watched a Brainpop about chemical and physical properties. After finishing the movie, we had a little contest to see who could correctly identify whether a characteristic was a chemical or physical property or change. Cassidy, Ashleigh, and Kelsey got all of them correct!

We did another small contest seeing if students could identify the difference between substances and mixtures. If it was a substance, then it had to be classified as an element or compound. If it was a mixture, then it needed to be classified as homogeneous or heterogeneous. Patrisha won that contest as a team of one - go Patrisha!

Then we covered some notes on heat, endothermic and exothermic, and the difference between specific heat and heat capacity.

We finished the class with a game of SWAT! Students had to identify parts of the phase change diagrams by swatting the part of the graph that answered the question I asked. This also helped a few students who were having trouble with the graph. The right side team (I think Yellow) won by only one point.

Students will be doing a calorimetry lab tomorrow to measure specific heat and have a Unit 1.5 Test on Friday.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Burning Magnesium

Combustion is an important chemical change and whether a substance is flammable or combustible is an important chemical property. It's hard not to look directly at the bright glowing flame.

Special thanks to lab groups who let me photograph and record their experimental results. Special thanks to Mrs. Woodward for setting this lab up for chemistry class and letting us perform the lab in her classroom.

Lab Week

Sorry I haven't been on top of posting, but we have been performing some exciting labs to examine physical and chemical changes. Students did an excellent job following directions and practicing safe lab procedures.

This first video is one of the most exciting examples of a chemical change and it actually had two different chemical changes. The elemental copper (Cu) reacts with Nitric acid releasing nitrous oxide (the brown gas - more commonly an ingredient in smog). A brown liquid was left in the erlenmeyer flask. Water was added and another chemical reaction occurred resulting in a blue liquid.

Another fun chemical change involved the combustion of Magnesium. This chemical change produced a blinding white light. All that remained after combustion was ash. Sometimes magnesium is used in fireworks.

Students were able to see a precipitate form when mixing lead nitrate and potassium iodide. A precipitate is a solid that forms when two liquids are mixed and a double replacement reaction occurs. Two clear liquids were mixed and formed a bright yellow precipitate with a clear liquid (it looked yellowish because of all the precipitate.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Review Day II

Students started by reviewing lab equipment and then some dimensional analysis (train tracks math). We went over the review sheet and and answered any questions.

Students practiced scientific method with two more random scenarios and again the K kids dominated.

There was not enough time to properly take the test so it has been moved to tomorrow (Wednesday). Students finished class by working on a sheet designed to see their knowledge on the phases of matter. After the test tomorrow, students will be looking at different phases of matter as well as physical and chemical changes.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Scientific Method

Today students practiced with numbers to see if they remember significant digits and scientific notation. Tomorrow is their test!

Because students were having trouble with the scientific method we practiced with some odd scenarios like the one below. Students had to write a hypothesis in If/Then form, identify the independent variable and dependent variables, control, constants, and possible sources of error. Teams were awarded points for correct answers and coached along the way. All teams improved by the end and all the K teams Kicked Butt! And there are 6 K's in this class - so that's a heap of kicking!

SAMPLE SCENARIO: Albert thinks that if he licks his pencils before sharpening them, they will stay sharper longer. He tests 10 pencils and licks half of them before hand. He then uses them and then compares their sharpness. During testing he dropped three pencils on the floor, but he doesn’t know which ones.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Truck Activity

You can do this activity in this window or go directly to the site.

Part II Friction

Part III Melting Points

Gummi Bears - Day 2

Today started with reviewing the dimensional analysis homework. We discussed how to think about it and how to get started even if you aren't sure what to do. The jump in for the day was a math challenge to see how everyone was doing (and to make some students realize that they may need to focus). Congratulations to Katelyn (did I pick the right one) for being the only person to get all ten of the challenge questions correct. Rock on!

Then it was time to check on the gummi bears. The gummi bears had been sitting in water for 24 hours by this time and it was time to see how that time affected them. Some students hypothesized that the bears would dissolve; others that they would grow even bigger. Even though students made a hypothesis, I don't think they were prepared for the slimy jiggly monstrosities that awaited them.

The students and I realized that the bears had grown in size, but it wasn't that apparent until you compared them side by side. Here is Angie's giant yellow gummi bear compared to a normal sized red gummi bear.

Because the bears were bigger and slimier they were a little bit harder to work with. Students still had to take length, height, width, and mass measurements so they could scientifically and quantitatively measure the difference between the original gummi bear and the giant swollen gummi bears. Tayler measured her bear and like most found that it was now about 10 grams - more than 7 grams of gained weight.

Kyle was absent and I was going to measure his bear for him, but his group decided that it would be better to take the experiment a little bit further and see what happens to a gummi bear after 48 hours! Justin wanted to see if his bear would shrink back to normal so his bear (minus the water) is sitting out to dry. Hooray for science inquiry!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Math stuff and Gummy Bears

Today we discussed proper lab write-ups and started a new lab with Gummy Bears. The students measured and weighed the gummy bears to find mass, volume, and density. Then the gummy bears were put in a cup full of water for one hour to see what would happen. Students hypothesized that the bears would shrink and dissolve or the color would leak out or the bears would get squishier.

In the hour interim, students practiced identifying significant digits and reacquainted themselves with scientific notation.

After the hour, the bears were retrieved with difficulty for more measurements. There was a lot of complaining about not being able to grasp the bears because they were now much more slippery and slimy. Most of the bears did swell in size and become less dense... except for Kristina... she used hot water and her bear shrunk because it dissolved.

There's one more set of gummy bears hanging out in water til tomorrow. What do you think will happen to the bears overnight?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Dimensional Analysis

Today students learned how to set up conversions using dimensional analysis. I did not make it easy on them... instead of using units like kilograms to grams... we converted from A to E or from hearts to stars.

The students performed amazingly. They set up the conversions correctly, calculated the answers correctly, and did conversions up to seven sections long. Awesome!

The real test will be to see if they understand their homework and if they can still do it tomorrow.

Homework was three practice problems involving shoes and laces.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Happy FrIday - it's the first lab!

Today students discussed their Mission Impossible Measurement Homework. Scary objects that were measured included knives, guns, tarantulas, and a fist! We discussed how you can use anything to measure and how some things are easier or harder to measure with because of size.

Students watched a Brainpop about accuracy vs. precision and then got set up for a lab. Today's lab entitled the rainbow lab, is a trial run for lab safety and also measures the accuracy and precision of their liquid measurements. Patrisha and Ryan finished first and after discovering the error of using different diameter test tubes, had fairly accurate results.