Chem for those who do not like it

Sun Nov 26, 2017 9:50 PM

I am an education major in my last 2 semesters.  I have always had a hard time with chemistry and really did not enjoy it.  Has anyone found a way for those who are not good at chemistry to want to be engaged and do well?

Morgan Bell
Morgan Bell
340 Activity Points

Fri Dec 15, 2017 12:04 PM

I always do an inventory of my students' interests at the start of the year and then try to tie concepts to their interests. We read an article on the first day about chemistry all around them. I've also had them write questions that they want answered about their world (for example: why does orange juice taste differently after brushing your teeth) and use those student-generated questions as guides to reach those students who don't show as much interest in Chemistry. Here is a link to the "Why Study Chemistry?" article.

Casey Moskau
Casey Moskau
150 Activity Points

Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:45 PM

To add to the other good points already shared, since chemistry is so abstract, I try to use models and online simulations such as Weekly hands on experiments are a must! Check out American Chemical Society’s resource at for simple explanations.

Christine Herald
Chris Herald
1485 Activity Points

Sat Dec 16, 2017 1:35 PM

In my experience, doing hands on projects makes the content more relatable. I enjoyed everything that I could be creative and involved with. Research shows project based learning leads to deeper conceptual understanding of content.

Sydney Murillo
Sydney Murillo
3300 Activity Points

Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:52 AM


I think you have hit the reason for NGSS right on the head! The phenomenon approach to learning is what drives those students in the classroom. When teachers engage their students with phenomena they have a true curiosity or interest in the interest levels in the classroom drive up. Students are shifting from this rote memorization or even just learning content in isolation; to having a role and a mission of trying to figure something out. Chemistry is especially daunting in isolation. When you give students a task, then build a story around that task where now they need to know this information to complete the task. They will be more engaged. The hardest part is choosing a phenomenon that fits your students. You should figure out what are they interested in. What are things that would hook them? Once you get to know your students more you will know the types of phenomenon’s that will drive them.

Jessica Holman
Jessica Holman
605 Activity Points

Thu Feb 22, 2018 7:48 PM

Chemistry can be a tough subject. I think the best way to get student engaged is by making it relevant it them. Little kids especially are engaged once the topic is around something they know about. Weekly hands on experiments or even demos are a fun touch to add because it can make your lesson more lively.

Hina Anwar
Hina Anwar
165 Activity Points

Mon Mar 05, 2018 1:49 PM

Please explore the "Living by Chemistry" (LBC) curriculum, by Angelica Stacy, published by Bedford, Freeman & Worth. (N.B. I have no financial/other interest in advocating for LBC, I am just sharing). Student lab activities are safe, interesting and well explained. The teacher resource materials are the best I have ever experienced (any subject). Lesson plans follow a logical progression and build a strong foundation.

I found the LBC resource exhibited at the 2011 NSTA Conference, tried some of their activities with my inner-city HS chemistry students, and was so excited by the level of student enthusiasm that I got funding for my school to switch to the full LBC curriculum in 2012. My students' level of engagement went from apathetic to awed, and their end-of-course grades went through the roof, from about 34% pass rate (Year 0) to 99% pass rate (Year 3). I have a super graphic I made to illustrate this, see attached.
Chemistry became the favorite subject for many of my students once we switched to LBC, attendance improved for days they had chemistry, and tens of my students went on to major in chemistry, bio-chemistry or related majors in college.

The publisher BFW quotes on their website: "Living By Chemistry makes rigorous chemistry accessible to all students" and this is SUCH a true statement. I made a short video explaining why I think this curriculum is amazing, this is based on the 1st printed edition, book cover has changed for 2nd edition see:
Best wishes, Rebecca

Rebecca Jane Austin-Datta
Rebecca Austin Datta
3515 Activity Points

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