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

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

Dimensional Analysis Made Easy

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck 557 kilograms per hour, in an eight hour work day. Give answer in megatonnes.

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

Sig Fig Rules!–Master Your Significant Digits Here (A Learning Game Contest Example)

[Edit 09.05.13] SigFig is now accessible through our primary chemistry learning web app, Study Putty.

In the preceding weeks we launched our Learning Game Contest, seeking submissions of science/math learning game concepts and offering the prize of a $100 Amazon or iTunes gift card along with the chance of seeing that idea implemented in a playable game. With the intention of demonstrating the sort of concept we’re looking for, and to show how your concept could become a working game, we recently published Sig Fig Rules! online.

If you have ever taken a chemistry course, whether in high school or college, you may remember the lesson on significant digits. If your response to being asked to identify significant and insignificant digits was, like mine, “Discrimination! Who am I to tell a number his existence is insignificant?” you, like me, might have benefited from a learning tool such as this. Continue reading

BugOut! Live — New Learning Environment Goes Online

For the last six months, in parallel with the research work we’ve been documenting here on our Learning Laboratory site, we at Sheridan Programmers Guild have been building some custom software for a truly remarkable customer.

Dr. Meghan Jeffres is an Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice at Roseman University of Health Sciences in Henderson, Nevada.  She is a specialist in infectious diseases (ID).  She teaches courses in statistics and infectious diseases to pharmacy and dental students in a classroom setting and precepts pharmacy students and medical residents in a clinical setting. Continue reading

Learning Activities: Put some fun into learning. Your students will thank you.

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Research shows that play is incredibly important for early childhood development. Elementary school classrooms often ring with student laughter. However, we sometimes need reminded that the “serious learning” conducted at the collegiate level doesn’t, by default, have to be seriously boring or superbly stressful. College learning can also be fun, entertaining and engaging. Students’ knowledge retention rates have been shown to increase when learning games are implemented in class (Barclay et al. 2011).  Students play games such as Portal 2, — arguably a physics learning game in itself — on their own time to unwind. And yet, a learning game doesn’t have to have spectacular graphics or complex game play to be fun and effective. For example, The Blood Typing Game does both! The following resources highlight several aspects of electronic learning activities for use both in and out of class. By all means, if you get excited, create your own game. Continue reading

Social Learning: Share the learning experience with like-minded learners

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Shared experience is the very fabric for human culture. It creates a sense of belonging, provides common ground for conversation and links us in ways that help us to relate to one another. Shared experiences can occur on a local level such as eating a hamburger at Louis’ Lunch or surviving Mrs. Muchen’s 8th grade math class. However, we also collectively share global experiences such as mainstream films, television shows and music which we reference through quotes, lyrics, and parodies. Those common experiences are the stitches that piece each of us into the quilt of society. Excitingly, social media is creating a whole new realm of shared human experience. Social learning deploys social media to help learners around the world unite to accomplish their learning goals, whether it be mastering linear equations or learning a foreign language. The following resources exemplify a few of the social learning resources emerging in our ever-expanding world of shared experience.

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Collaborative Software: Editing student work and group projects just got easier.

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Good news! The following collaborative tools can not only make giving students’ genuine feedback a cinch, but also better facilitate group work among your students. One struggle good instructors face, is creating time for meaningful student feedback. After grading 50 papers, it is easy to give in to a cross-eyed, writers cramp induced stupor and simply write C+ without any useful comments to help your student improve. At the same time, group work might no longer send such a shudder up your students’ spines, as the same useful resources might mean students effectively collaborate from anywhere regardless of the time of day. Check out the following learning technologies to make your and your students’ lives a whole lot easier. Continue reading

Enhancing Student Engagement: Students can’t learn when they are asleep.

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Nowhere in college handbooks does it state that learning will be dry, dull and at times stressful beyond measure. However, much of the class time in universities across the country is seemingly governed by an iron fist of boredom interspersed with cram-and-purge testing several times a semester. This scenario isn’t fun for students or their instructors who look out at their glazed and sleeping (or texting) students and wonder what it is they might do differently. The following resources may help. These learning technologies are designed to spice up lecture delivery and bolster student engagement both in and out of the classroom. Harnessing the power of learning technology linked by mobile devices (which are even more ubiquitous than piercings among the college population these days) may help open instructor-student and student-student communication for your class in ways you never thought possible. Continue reading

Classroom Content: It’s all been done. Why reinvent the wheel?

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Creating exceptional and engaging lessons is time consuming no matter how you slice it. And it feels good to be creative and to bake up brand new course material. However, why not see what is out there before you start from scratch? The following resources just might be your new favorite toppings for easier and more effective lesson planning. The following useful content resources include ready-made video lessons, self quizzes, and complete college level courses – all for free! Continue reading