Monday, August 3, 2015

ChemMatters Workshop at ChemEd15

Workshop leaders Kathleen, Marta, Steve, Susan, Stacey, Lisa, Kathleen, and Patrice
ChemEd is a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with chemistry teachers from around the world.  When I looked through the program for ChemEd15, "Advancing Scientific Literacy with Inquiry Lesson Plans Using ChemMatters Magazine"  jumped out at me.  I love the ChemMatters magazine, and I never quite do enough work on scientfic literacy with my classes.  The inquiry lessons piece also a hook for me.  The workshop was led by Kathleen Cooper, Marta Gmurczyk, Steve Long, Susan Cooper, Stacey Haas, Lisa Culberson, Kathleen Chesmel, and Patrice Pages.  I was thrilled to join this group of enthusiastic teachers to create new lessons that incorporate articles from ChemMatters.  Not only did I walk away with a lesson of my own, but I also joined a network of teachers who are working with these same resources in their classrooms.  Through the Basecamp website, all the members of this workshop will continue to collaborate throughout the school year and beyond.

Lisa, Lynda, and I working in a small group on "Why Cold Doesn't Exist" lesson.
There were five articles that we could choose from for the workshop.  We split up into small groups to work on an article of our choice.  I decided to work on the article "Does Cold Exist" because I love my thermochemistry unit.  Lynda and I joined Lisa, who was our group leader, to collaborate on a lesson that uses the article as an integral part of the work.  We spent most of our hour talking through the thermochemistry activities that we do with our students.  We had fun stitching together pieces from all of our units into a more complete experience for our students.  The article served as an important launch pad into our thermochemistry unit.  What I realized while working with them is that the ChemMatters article can effectively replace the text book reading on heat and energy.  The article developed not only the basic terminology, but also particle diagrams and graphical analysis of some specific examples of heat exchange.  You can take a look at our lesson at this link.  Thank you, Lynda for finding time after the workshop to type up our work.

After we worked for an hour on our lessons, the whole group came back together to share and discuss our ideas.  Each article tackled a different piece of the chemistry curriculum.  The range of topics in the magazine articles, along with their engaging text, make them a good fit for high school science classes.  I have set a goal for myself to use one ChemMatters article for each unit throughout the school year.  With the five from the workshop, I'm about a third of the way there!

These were the articles we worked on during the workshop:
How Toxic Is Toxic
by Brian Rohrig (December 2014)

Why Cold Doesn't Exist
by Michael Tinnesand (Oct 2013)

I met Stacey at the BWI airport on the way to Atlanta, and then reconnected in her workshop.
Smartphones, Smart Chemistry
by Brian Rohrig (April 2015)

Salting Roads: The Solution for Winter Driving
by Doris Kimbrough (Feb 2006)

The Death of Alexander Litvinenko
by Audrey Keown (April 2007)

If you go to the ChemMatters website, you can find teacher resources for many of the most recent articles with "ready to use" lessons that you can adapt to your students.  The folks at ACS are eager to get these great resources into teachers hands and into chemistry classrooms.  


  1. Oh, I love it. I will share with my colleagues at the ACS. So grateful to get this feedback - makes our job at the ACS so much more purposful. Thank you, thank you and please let us know how we can help. Marta Gmurczyk

  2. Awesome job, Lisa Culberson! Thanks for representing Hillsborough County and Gaither High School!