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Engaging Students

last week I got to spend time in Ms. Rogers’s Chemistry class. I really liked the way Ms. Rogers engaged the students in the discussion of chemical reactions.

After presenting some background information about a reaction she was going to demonstrate, Ms. Rogers asked kids to make predictions and write them in their notebook. Then Ms. Rogers mixed chemicals in a flask and let the kids observe. She let the students think of their own explanations and asked questions that made them think. Why do you say that? What would happen if instead we…? What does that tell you about this reaction?

Ms. Rogers also gave students interesting examples from the real world. Have you ever heard of blue people? Yes, people who have bluish skin and don’t have to pain themselves to go on stage.

Maybe students might have benefitted from hands-on activities where they mixed the chemicals themselves. However, this is sometimes dangerous or cost-prohibitive. But, by having a meaningful discussion where students think of answers rather than being given answers is a great way to approach chemistry.

To end the class, Ms. Rogers carried out one more experiment. She generated hydrogen by dipping sodium hydroxide wrapped in aluminum foil in water. She collected the hydrogen in a balloon, then held it over an open flame to watch it burn. It made quite an impression.

Here is a video clip of the explosion slowed down to 10% of its original speed.

 

Hydrogen Balloon from Bea Cantor on Vimeo.

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