“Memorization” is a foul word in education. Students hate doing it. Teachers hate that their students spend so much time trying to cram data into their noggins when the point is really the concept, not the vocab. But this doesn’t change the fact that mastering ‘vocabulary’ — whether it be definitions, abbreviations, symbols, or formulas — is a crucial hurdle students must get over.
“Critical thought, evaluation, and synthesis all sit on the backbone of vocabulary.”
— Rachel Watson, Professional Academic Lecturer, Dept. of Molecular Biology at the University of Wyoming, non-fan of rote memorization, and creator of her own open courseware.
Matching names and formulae of common polyatomic ions.
Easing the student’s memorization burden is the idea behind Study Putty, our set of online learning activities currently under development and available for students to use.
Study Putty provides several straightforward ways to memorize information. It’s not a game or a sim, it’s just a variety of memorization activities for fundamental facts prerequisite to mastering important concepts. We are starting with the subject of chemistry and looking to grow into other fields. Our chemistry activities are designed to get the dirty job of memorization done so the student can move on with labs, with class, with life. All of our activities are free to use. Continue reading →
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 →
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.
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.
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.
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 →
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 →
How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck 15.5 kilograms per minute in an eight hour work day? Give answer in megatonnes.
Dimensional analysis is not the first thing Mr. Spock does when the Starship Enterprise accidentally travels into a new universe or timeline. That is not what we’re here to learn about today.
Unfortunately. Because that sounds interesting.
Instead, we have what is also commonly called “the factor-label method” and simply “unit conversion.” Dimensional analysis is the method that is used to get an answer in the correct units of measurement in problems relating to math, chemistry, and other physical sciences. At its most simple, it can be solving how many minutes are in two hours, or, on the more complex end, it can be finding how many moles there are in three cubic meters of argon.
So are you stuck on your homework? We’ve assembled a few resources to help you with the factor label method. Continue reading →
[Edit 4/14/14: If you came here looking for a blank multiplication grid, see this post for our PDF times tables.]
Three Free and Easy Ideas
During the 2007-08 school year I was a tutor with an agency serving the Los Angeles Unified School District under funding from No Child Left Behind (NCLB). A pre-test selected three California state standards that I was meant to enforce in each student, all of whom were unwilling and less than thrilled with school in general. I was on my own in terms of teaching materials and, feeling sorry for my bored kids and sensing the inefficacy of plain old worksheets, I found myself flexing my creative muscles to generate solutions, which I would like to share with any tutor or teacher who needs some inspiration. Continue reading →