This is the year I organize the lab.
Teaching kids to work efficiently and keep their work area neat is pretty intuitive. Washing glassware, however, is not. I’ve outfitted every station with a small plastic bin that contains a sponge, a towel, and a spray bottle of table cleaner provided by the custodial staff. There’s nothing to clean glassware. So, I added a medium-sized test tube brush to the can in each cupboard, and placed a salt shaker (2/$1 at The Dollar Store) filled with Alconox in each bin:
Alconox is my glassware-cleaning detergent of choice, when a cleaner is needed. Students usually wash their own glassware at their lab benches. They will dump a handful of Alconox in one beaker when only a sprinkle is needed. The shakers are about 12 cm tall, plastic, easy to refill, and yes, they are color-coded to match the table color scheme.
Update, November 24: Working quite well.
This post is the college admissions essay written by an amazing (and now former) AP Chemistry student, Cody Beam.
Periodic Table of Band
I’m pretty sure Cody’s other intellectual abilities would have assured not only acceptance but the free ride they received. Cody shared this essay with me, and I loved it so much that I asked, and Cody granted, permission, for me to share it here.
Spectacular new advances have been made in the periodic table in the past couple of months. A grand total of 34 new elements have been discovered in the most unlikely of places: high school band rooms. A new alkali metal (Directorium, 119) and an alkaline earth metal (Band Geekium, 120) are the most prominent of the new discoveries followed by 32 others which form the Instruminide Series. Research is underway to determine the properties and habits of these elements, as well as why they had not been discovered before, and while there is still much to learn, what has been deciphered of these mysterious elemental additions is fascinating.
Read the rest of this entry »
From Learning and the Brain Conference, Day 2, Friday.
Souls of Pe bring water for purification.
It’s pretty clear to me, perhaps because I’m looking for it, that however one views creativity, one has to know something to be creative in a productive sense. Rigorous content is part of most models of PBL and creativity models. I’m not sure this is obvious to everyone, though. I’ve always known that before kids can create productively, they have to know something. Granted, some world problems appear to be solvable on the surface by 6th graders playing with plastic cups and sand models of water purification systems, and 6th graders should play with these things. At some point, however, rigor and expectations need to stretch. How can this be done? Read the rest of this entry »
I’m leaving tomorrow to attend Learning and the Brain’s Educating for Creative Minds conference.
I’ve been creative before. Several of my quilts were chosen for an exhibit at an art museum
in Ohio. I’ve been creative in my classroom for years. It takes a great deal of creativity to keep teenagers engaged as they learn an abstract subject such as chemistry. I’ve created lessons, labs, projects, presentations, lab stations, grant proposals, graphics, models, rubrics, assessments, and a few bazillion things I’ve already forgotten about. Oh, and a dissertation, the production of which is fundamental to my question: What does it mean to be creative in science?
Read the rest of this entry »