About Bret Norwood

Bret Norwood is a staff blogger for Learning Laboratory in addition to other roles, including UI design and content development for Study Putty, our free memorization tool for chemistry and many other course topics. He is also a published writer of literary fiction--see BretNorwood.com

Study Chemistry with Study Putty

A New Chemistry Study Tool

Study Chemistry with Study Putty

The Stud: Hearts melt like putty in his charming arms. Well, actually he melts like putty because he is.

Master the following at Study Putty:

  • The Elements
  • Common Polyatomic Ions
  • Acid Nomenclature
  • Base Nomenclature
  • The First Ten Straight-Chained Hydrocarbons

Learning-Laboratory is proud to present its fledgling and freely available online learning activity: Study Putty.

Like clay in your over-stressed fist, dear student, the learning tools at Study Putty will be moldable to your desires, both for content and for style. As we are starting out, we are limited to two game types (matching and fill-in-the-blank) and to a handful of topics in chemistry. But we intend to expand.  Continue reading

Ionic Bonding Explained (Videos)

A Chemical Bond Breakdown by an Internet Chem Guru

Tyler DeWitt might be the Internet’s favorite chemistry teacher–well, after Walter White and Bill Nye the Science Guy. The reason why he’s up there on the list anyway has to do with his point-by-point, easy-to-follow, visually-oriented explanations of the very threshold concepts that students struggle with. The following is the first installment in his video series on ionic bonding. See his channel for the whole series, and for a myriad of other topics.

Continue reading

Polyatomic Ion Study Materials

Polyatomic Ion list

View PDF, HTML, or click the image above to enlarge.

We offer two free resources to study polyatomic ions.

A Polyatomic Ion List

Sometimes when it comes to studying, simple is best. This polyatomic ion table can be used as a classroom handout or for self study. It can be viewed online or printed. If printed out, it can be neatly folded in half so only the names or the formulas (with charges) can be seen.

We’ve made a downloadable PDF version, and also a webpage version of the polyatomic ions list. Continue reading

Do Facebook and Education Mash?

`Mashable

Social Media and Education: a Match Made in the Near Future?

With social media and mashable technology entering their heyday, one could imagine a great opportunity and, perhaps,  an intriguing potential for competitive learning games. However, if you search the Facebook apps directory with the term `learning` or `education,` there won`t be a lot of results. And most of those results are going to be language learning software aimed at adults outside of the education system. Continue reading

Free Graphing Calculator (iOS App) by William Jockusch

Free Graphing Calculator screenshot 01

Free Graphing Calculator for iOS © William Jockusch. This screenshot is believed to be fair use because 1) it is low-res, and 2) it is used for the purpose of review.

One Free Calculator to Rule Them All

Developer William Jockusch describes his Free Graphing Calculator app with a bold claim: “Does far more than most of the paid calculators out there…let alone the free ones.” Given a few minutes to explore the app on an iPad, I was made a believer. The functionality and amount of data that have been put into Free Graphing Calculator are almost amazing.

To begin, we have access to almost everything a high school student or college undergrad would need in an expensive TI, but for free: basic calculator; graphing equations; linear, quadratic, and cubic equations solvers…But to stop there, that would be too easy.

The app includes a reference directory with categories for algebra, calculus, trigonometry, et cetera. It has most of the basic mathematical disciplines you could think of, with entries like “definition of a derivative” and “simplifying fractions.” There are also references for classical mechanics and logic.

Continue reading

Periodic Table Apps – Two Free Learning Games Reviewed

High school and college students have a number of free apps available to help with chemistry class. After browsing the App Store I selected two periodic table apps that were free, high quality, and which seemed efficacious for learning. These selections can aid a student who is rehearsing the elements for an exam, or anybody who would like to be more familiar with the periodic table. Continue reading

The Day the Tech Took Over Campus

"Education in the Year 2000" Image Source: uh, the Internet? Gosh who knows where things originally came form these days. [Okay fine--I'll Google it. Credit: Villemard, À l'École (1910).]

“Education in the Year 2000” Image Source: uh, the Internet? Gosh who knows where things originally came form these days. [Okay fine–I’ll Google it. Credit: Villemard, À l’École (1910).]

The claim “Technology is changing everything” is a maxim that is often heard, especially in the field of education. Since I have been out of school for six years, I wondered whether new tech really is changing everything. I happen to have two good friends from my high school class of 2003 who went to college first right out of high school, as I did, but who have returned to school this last year at the University of Wyoming where they have just wrapped up their spring semesters. These buddies know what college used to be like nearly a decade ago and what it is like now. These two students are in the perfect place to make observations about the impact and pace of technology’s forward march. Continue reading

BugOut! Pharmacy Learning Environment Wins Recognition

BugOut!We are extremely pleased to announce that the BugOut! interactive learning environment created by Meghan Jeffres of Roseman University and developed by our team here at the Sheridan Programmers Guild was recognized as one of three winning portfolios by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy in their 2013 Innovations in Teaching Competition.

From the AACP: “The purpose of the Competition is to identify innovative teaching/learning strategies and assessment methods.”

Meghan’s winning portfolio will be presented at this year’s AACP Annual Meeting on July 13-17 in Chicago. “The AACP Annual Meeting is the largest gathering of academic pharmacy administrators, faculty and staff, and each year offers 70 or more educational programs that cut across all disciplines.”

Congratulations, Meghan! We are proud to be a part of your success.

PhET Provides Interactive Learning for Chemistry

PhET does not stand for Physics Education Technology. Once upon a time it did, but not since they branched out into learning tools for other subjects like chemistry. The PhET team at the University of Colorado in Boulder has long set the standard for online simulations for the sciences.

Their Flash simulations provide learning opportunities both for the chemistry classroom and for the student at home struggling to understand a concept. I picked through their catalogue of free chemistry sims in order to review a selection of what they offer. Continue reading

And…Announcing our Learning Game Contest Winner!

Congratulations to DJ Adamson of Columbus, OH for being selected in our 2013 Learning Game Idea Contest. DJ is a young man who submitted a game idea to help students in learning the order of mathematical operations. We are pleased to award him with the prize, and offer our thanks for entering. DJ, we hope that you continue to cultivate your talent as a young inventor.