Chemistry

Chem for those who do not like it

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
380 Activity Points

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. http://msgluckmann.webs.com/HP%20Chem%20Spring%20project%202016.pdf

Casey Moskau
Casey Moskau
150 Activity Points

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

Christine Herald
Chris Herald
1625 Activity Points

Morgan, you might be interested in one of NSTA's books, it is 15.96 for members. I have the one of Forces and Motion and it breaks everything down so that even I can understand physics. [color=#144e69][size=6][font="Helvetica Neue", Helvetica, Roboto, Arial, sans-serif]More Chemistry Basics: Stop Faking It! Finally Understanding Science So You Can Teach It[/font][/size][/color] Some of the chapters are a free download: [url=http://common.nsta.org/resource/?id=10.2505/9781933531472#][color=#144e69][size=3][font="Helvetica Neue", Helvetica, Roboto, Arial, sans-serif]Chapters Available Individually (Not all are available)[/font][/size][/color][/url] [ul] [li][size=1][font="Helvetica Neue", Helvetica, Roboto, Arial, sans-serif][url=http://common.nsta.org/resource/?id=10.2505/9781933531472.5][color=#33aab8]Electro-Luminescence[/color][/url] [url=http://common.nsta.org/resource/?id=10.2505/9781933531472.1][color=#33aab8]Dèjà Review[/color][/url] [url=http://common.nsta.org/resource/?id=10.2505/9781933531472.2][color=#33aab8]Dynamic Atoms[/color][/url] [url=http://common.nsta.org/resource/?id=10.2505/9781933531472.3][color=#33aab8]The Name's Bond ... Pi Bond[/color][/url] [url=http://common.nsta.org/resource/?id=10.2505/9781933531472.4][color=#33aab8]Special Reactions[/color][/url] [url=http://common.nsta.org/resource/?id=10.2505/9781933531472.6][color=#33aab8]Half a Life is Better Than None[/color][/url] [url=http://common.nsta.org/resource/?id=10.2505/9781933531472.7][color=#33aab8]A Little Organic[/color][/url][/font][/size][/li] [/ul] You also can use the Explore All Resources tab at the top menu and search for Chemistry. You can click on the tab for User Collections and find elementary, middle, or high school articles, podcasts, and book chapters. There is such a wealth of information on NSTA that you can add to your library. I am also an Essential Elements Certified Instructor. You can visit: https://www.chemed.org/ There are You Be the Chemist Guides and there is probably a Certified Instructor or more in your state.

Pamela Dupre
Pamela Dupre
87334 Activity Points

Hi Morgan, In a middle school or high school chemistry classroom it is more than likely that not all students will enjoy the content of the class and it may be a difficult course for many. I too remember having a hard time understanding the content in the chemistry classes I took in my secondary schooling. However, one way in which my high school chemistry teacher kept his students engaged was by relating the mundane content to phenomena in real-life or by using analogies to relate concepts that students were familiar with in their everyday lives in order to make the content more relatable. For instance, in order for students to get a better understanding of the microscopic ideas associated with the subatomic particles present within an atom, protons, neutrons, and electrons were drawn parallel to some make-believe characters of a fictional story created. Another way in which content may become comprehensible is if students are given the opportunity to engage with it hands-on, instead of being presented information through direct instruction. For instance, when learning about what chemical combinations creates a solution that produces heat, assign students an inquiry-based project in which they are asked to create a "hand-warmer". In this way students engage with the content with a purpose in mind, rather than having to memorize chemical make-ups that produce a warming reaction. Lastly, if a teacher himself/herself is passionate about a topic and displays this enthusiasm through his/her teaching, this promotes a more productive learning environment in which students may feel intrigued to learn what may seem at first to be challenging and uninteresting content.  

Amitoj Kahlon
Amitoj Kahlon
20 Activity Points

That depends on why they are not enjoying chemistry ... if they simply aren't interested, maybe try to emphasize the transferable skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, and quantitative reasoning. That gives a non-chemistry goal to work towards in the course. 

If someone is not enjoying chemistry because they do not have the prerequisite skills, backfilling that missing knowledge can increase confidence and motivation. 

If chemistry is just too "hard", break down the work into smaller more attainable chunks so that confidence is built. 

Emily Faulconer
Faulconer
1510 Activity Points

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
3305 Activity Points

Hi! 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
1170 Activity Points

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
345 Activity Points

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). [color=#363940][size=2][font="Source Sans Pro", "Helvetica Nue", Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif]Student lab activities[/font][/size][/color][color=#363940][size=2][font="Source Sans Pro", "Helvetica Nue", Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif] 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.[/font][/size][/color] 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: "[color=#363940][size=2][font="Source Sans Pro", "Helvetica Nue", Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif]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: [/font][/size][/color][color=#363940][font=Source Sans Pro, Helvetica Nue, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif][size=2]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXTb7F2Sqvk. [/size][/font][/color] [color=#363940][font=Source Sans Pro, Helvetica Nue, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif][size=2]Best wishes, Rebecca[/size][/font][/color]

Rebecca Jane Austin-Datta
Rebecca Austin Datta
3515 Activity Points

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