The Next-Generation Molecular Workbench

The Next-Generation Molecular Workbench

For those unfamiliar with Concord Consortium’s Molecular Workbench, it is free molecular simulation software used for teaching and learning science. The new, lighter, Next-Generation Molecular Workbench is accessible within your web browser. This should make using the MW with your class much, much easier. I’ve created a couple of free biochemistry review activities to showcase the software’s capabilities.

Examples of Formative Assessment with Live Polling

Examples of Formative Assessment with Live Polling

If you’ve participated in any educational professional development training in the last couple of years, then there’s a good chance you’ve heard the term “formative assessment.” I can personally attest that it’s easy to forget the actual definition of such a term. The lexicon of educational strategies is ripe with “buzz” words rattled off in conversations between educators, the true understanding of their meaning often hazy. Sometimes its hard to dissect the efficacy of new teaching strategies. After all, the weekly cycle of planning, instructing, and assessing provides little time for casual experimentation with every “pedagogical technique du jour.” So, you may find yourself asking, “What is formative assessment?”

Water Molecule Model Building Activity

Water Molecule Model Building Activity

Here is a simple activity to help students learn about water’s polar nature.  Students build models of a water droplet while indicating hydrogen bonding between water molecules.  Students also use paper cut-outs to demonstrate the ability of water to dissolve ionic compounds. Water Molecule Model Building Activity I have also included links to several short episodes of a series from the National Science Foundation called Chemistry Now.  These can be helpful during a review of biochemistry.     If you like this activity, then you might also like these biochemistry review activities with interactives from Concord Consortium’s Next Generation Molecular Workbench. Biochemistry Activity: Hydrogen Bonds and Polar Molecules Biochemistry Activity: Protein Folding     Chemistry Now Chemistry of Water (4:46)– It might just be the most universally known fact in chemistry: the chemical formula for water-H2O. This video “profiles” the H2O molecule–its structure, polarity, cohesive and adhesive properties, and water’s properties as a “universal” solvent.   The Chemistry of Ice – This video explains how the molecular structure of H2O changes as it reaches its freezing point, and turns from a liquid to a less dense, solid, crystal lattice. (5:22)   The Chemistry of Salt – This video explains and illustrates the molecular structure of sodium chloride (NaCl) crystals; the structure and symmetry of crystal lattices; and why one crystalline solid, salt, melts another, ice. (6:22)   The Chemistry of CO2: Carbon Dioxide – This video explains and illustrates the molecular structure of CO2; how the bonding of the carbon and oxygen molecules illustrates the Octet Rule, or Rule of 8; carbon dioxide and carbonation; the role of CO2 in the...
National Science Foundation | Chalk Talk Videos

National Science Foundation | Chalk Talk Videos

I recently stumbled upon a nice little trove of engaging science content. The National Science Foundation website features a multimedia gallery filled with numerous free science images, science videos, and science audio clips.  I suggest searching the gallery for the Chalk Talk clips. The quick and quirky style of these animations could help kick start a lesson or review. DNA Mitochondria Tragedy of the Commons Part 1 Tragedy of the Commons Part 2      ...
Using iPads in the Classroom

Using iPads in the Classroom

If you’ve ever sat back and watched, young people have an insatiable urge to manipulate technology, particularly the handheld variety.  Instructional delivery can certainly be enhanced when we adapt content into a format that is native to the students, thereby feeding into their natural curiosities.  However, this is not always easy or practical.  Adopting new technologies in the classroom can be expensive and what’s cutting edge today can become quickly obsolete. This year my building was fortunate enough to acquire an iPad cart.  When I first heard that these devices would become available for classroom use,  I became slightly obnoxious, pestering our technology director, letting him know of my desire to debut the iPads’, showcasing their capabilities during one of my lessons. I quickly began scouring the web and the Apple App Store to find some ideas.  I began making a short list of some of the best free science apps but found the web content to be a little sparse.  One thing I didn’t want to do was let the students use Safari (the iPad’s pre-installed web browser) to Google answers to a worksheet.  This would essentially dumb down the iPad, making the experience seem like a trip to the computer lab.  And, let’s face it, desktops make better web browsers.  No, the iPad is not the best choice for surfing the web, lacking the ability to view any content built on Adobe Flash, and there’s certainly loads of free science animations that utilize flash.  The iPad’s true strengths center around its touchscreen capabilities.  Consequently, the most useful resources found were apps that were designed to utilize the iPad’s unique features....