Thursday, July 14, 2016

NEACT Summer Conference August 8-11

New England Association of Chemistry Teachers
77th Summer Conference

Chemistry, Naturally!

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts North Adams, MA
August 8-11, 2016 

*Go to to register for the conference.

General Information:
  •   For driving directions to MCLA, 375 Church Street, North Adams, MA 01247, please go to:
  •   All general sessions will be held in the Feigenbaum Center for Science and Innovation Auditorium (FCSI; #26 on map). Laboratory workshops will be in FCSI Chemistry Lab 301/309 and other workshops will be in Bowman Hall classrooms 204, 206, and 208 (#1 on the map).
  •   Those who are seeking Professional Development Points (PDP) or Contact Hours should complete the required form at the time of Registration or during the conference. Dr. Donna Trainor is our new Contact Hours/PDP Chair and she can be contacted via e-mail:
  •   Accommodations will be in Hoosac Hall (#10 on map) and most places on campus are a short walk away.
  •   Parking is permitted only in those lots designated as “Resident Student” parking.
  •   On Tuesday evening, August 9, you have an opportunity to attend the Williamstown Theater Festival. This
    theater often features well-known actors and is affiliated with the Drama Department of Williams College. The featured play on August 9 is AN AMERICAN DAUGHTER by Wendy Wasserstein Directed by Evan Cabnet, featuring Saidah Arrika Ekulona, Grace Gummer, Roe Hartrampf, Stephen Sunken, Carson Meyer, Darren Pettie, Richard Poe, Will Pullen, Deborah Rush, Kate Walsh. Grace Gummer is the daughter of Meryl Streep. Attendance is optional. If would like to reserve tickets, we ask you to call the box office (Tel: 413-597-3383) or reserve on-line as soon as possible since there are limited seats remaining. The cost is $40-68 per person depending on seating. Tickets will not be available from NEACT.
  •   A trip to Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MOCA), one of the largest such museums in the country, is planned for Wednesday.
  •   Also planned is a trip to Clark Museum on Thursday, August 11th. There will be a guided tour with the education specialist. Visit the footpath to view the installation of the huge outdoor sculpture “Crystal!!”
  •   Participants can purchase a combo package for several museums ($35) usable any day the museums are
    open (Clark, Williams, Rockwell, and Mass MOCA).
  •   All museums are closed on Mondays.

    1. 77th Summer Conference Committee
      Meledath Govindan, Chair
      Jerusha Vogel
      Mary C. Madden

      Kathy Siok, Registrar-Treasurer, Scholarships Donna Trainor, Contact Hours/PDP 
77th NEACT Summer Conference Schedule
Monday, Aug 8, 2016
Feigenbaum Center for Science and Innovation (FCSI) Auditorium is the site for all lecture presentations (# 26 on map)
10:00 am 12:00 pm
AM Registration
Lobby, Hoosac Hall (#10 on Map)
PM Registration in FCSI Lobby
9:00 am 12:00 pm
NEACT Executive Committee Meeting
Hoosac Hall, First Floor
12:00 - 1:00 pm
1:00 - 1:30 pm
Opening Remarks (FCSI Auditorium)
Dr. Meledath Govindan,
President of NEACT
Dr. Robert Harris, Chair, Department of Chemistry, Mass College of Liberal Arts Dr. Monica Joslin, Dean of Academic Affairs, Mass College of Liberal Arts
1:30 2:20 pm
Lecture Presentation: "Reflections on the Chemistry of Soap and Sauerkraut"
Sue Klemmer, Camden Hills Regional High School; NEACT, Northern Division Chair
2:20 3:10 pm
Lecture Presentation: “How WebAssign’s Analytics Can Help You Tailor Your Classroom Experience for Improved Success,”
Mark Santee, Vice President for Development and Marketing, WebAssign, Raleigh, NC
3:10 3:30 pm
3:30 5:00 pm
Workshop 1: FCSI 301
"Soap Making"
Sue Klemmer
Camden Hills Regional High School, Maine.
Workshop 2: B 204
“Design of interactive and dynamic videos for online courses and flipped classrooms”
Dr. Jayashree Ranga
Salem State University, Mass
Presentation: B 206
"Organic Chemistry Course at Billerica Memorial High School"
Esther Hines
Billerica HS, Mass.
Presentation: B208
“Chemistry of Champagne
Jason Bachand
University of Connecticut
5:30 7:00 pm
Dinner (Centennial Room Dining Hall in Amsler Campus Center #12)
7:00 8:30 pm
Lecture Presentation: "The Amazing Array of Secondary Metabolites in Plants An Introduction with Focus on Materials used for Medicinal Purposes "
Dr. Stefan Gafner, American Botanical Council, Austin, TX (FCSI Auditorium)
8:30 pm -
Welcome Social - Amsler Campus Center Patio (Murdock Hall Garden Level hallway in case of rain)
Tuesday, Aug 9
Feigenbaum Center for Science and Innovation (FCSI) Auditorium is the site for all lecture presentations
7:00 - 8:30 am
Breakfast (Centennial Room Dining Hall in Amsler Campus Center #12)
8:30 - 9:30 am
Lecture Presentation: "Cranberry Power: Compounds that Can Keep You Healthy"
Dr. Catherine A. Neto, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, MA
9:30 10:30 am
Lecture Presentation: "Medicinal Properties of Honey: How Sweet It Is!" Dr. Susan Meschwitz, Department of Chemistry, Salve Regina University, RI
10:30 11:00 am
11:00 - 12:00
Discussion Break
Lecture Presentation: "Microbial Natural Product Drug Leads from Host-microbe Symbioses"
Dr. Marcy J. Balunas, University of Connecticut, Storrs.
12:00 1:00 pm
1:00 - 2:45 pm
Workshop 3: FCSI 301 "Dye-sensitized Solar Cells"
Dr. Gonghu Li
University of New Hampshire
Workshop 4: B206 "Introducing Equilibrium with Ease, Simplicity, and Fun"
Mary C. Madden
Quinebaug Valley Comm. College, CT
Workshop 5: B208 "Redox Application: Metabolic Biochemistry Guided Inquiry Lessons"
Cheryl Lavoie Simmons College, MA
Field Trip:
Natural Bridge State Park
2:45 3:00 pm
3:00 5:00 pm
Workshop 6: B204 "Analyzing the Flavor Profile of White Wines"
Kathy Siok
Rhode Island College Steve Siok
Workshop 7: B206 "Green Chemistry: Innovative & Sustainable Materials Derived from Nature"
Kate Anderson
Beyond Benign, MA
Presentation: B208 "Using the Mystery of Matter Video Library in the Classroom"
Susan Klemmer
Camden Hills Regional High School , Maine. Steve Lyons
PBS Project Director
5:30 - 6:30 pm
Dinner (Centennial Room Dining Hall in Amsler Campus Center #12)
7:00 10:00 pm
Williamstown Theater (Ticket charge is extra)
Wednesday, Aug 10
Feigenbaum Center for Science and Innovation (FCSI) Auditorium is the site for all lecture presentations
Breakfast (Centennial Room Dining Hall in Amsler Campus Center #12)
8:30 9:30
Lecture Presentation: "Eureka! Key Moments in the History of Science" Dr. Rebecca Kinraide, Boston University
9:30 10:00
Lecture Presentation: "A History of NEACT 118 Years of Involvement in Chemical Education"
Dr. Meledath Govindan, Fitchburg State University, MA; President, NEACT
10:00 10:30
10:30 11:30
Lecture Presentation: "Ash trees (Fraxinus spp.) and invasive insect pest emerald ash borer (EAB): What did we learn in past fifteen years?"
Dr. Sourav Chakraborty, Central Connecticut State University, CT
Annual Meeting
1:00 2:00
Lecture Presentation: "Wasabi?... The role of glucosinolates in plant-insect resistance"
Dr. Erin Rehrig, Fitchburg State University, MA
Samantha Glaze-Corcoran, University of Massachusetts - Amherst
2 3:30
Workshop 8: B204
" Wasabi?...The Role of Glucosinolates in Plant Resistance against Insect Herbivory"
Dr. Erin Rehrig and Samantha Glaze-Corcoran
Workshop 9: FCSI 309 "Vial/Vile Organic: Synthesis of Banana Oil"
Dr. Steve Miller
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, MA
Field Trip:
Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)
Museum visits require payment for admission. Private cars will be used for transportation.
Sign up at registration
3:30 3:45
3:45 5:15
Workshop 10: FCSI 301 "Towards Understanding ‘Hot’ Food: A Thin-Layer Chromatographic Separation of Capsaicinoids from Food"
Dr. Sourav Chakraborty
Workshop 11: B206
"The Pizza Box Spectroscope Lab Project"
Sharon Geyer
Pomfret School, CT
5:45 6:00
Conference Photo
6:10 - 7:00
Pre-Banquet Reception: Cash Bar. Church Street Center Social Hall (#19 on Map)
7:00 - 8:00
Banquet (Pre-registration is required)
8:00 - 9:00
2016 Timm Award Presentation and Lecture: Dr. Mark M. Turnbull, Professor of Chemistry, Carlson School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Clark University, Worcester, MA
9:00 -
Informal gathering in Hoosac Hall after session
Thursday, Aug 11
Feigenbaum Center for Science and Innovation (FCSI) Auditorium is the site for all lecture presentations
(Centennial Room Dining Hall in Amsler Campus Center #12)
Checkout of Residence Halls
The Best of Biomolecule of the Week”
Dr. Robert Harris
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, MA
Discussion Break
“Chemistry of Curcumin and Its Biological Stability”
Dr. Goudong Zhang
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
“Marijuana – The Wonder drug”
Dr. Mathangi Krishnamurthy
Fitchburg State University, MA
1:00 2:30
Workshop 12: FCSI 301 "Using Demonstrations as Review"
Jerusha Vogel
Greenwich High School, CT
Workshop 13: B204 "Do The Students Really Understand Chemistry Concepts? Some New Approaches to NGSS Implementation. "
Christopher Koutros, Nancy Curtin, Linda Schleicher Oliver Ames High School, MA
Field Trip:
Clark Art Institute
Museum visit includes a special guided tour
Museum visit requires payment for admission. Private cars will be used for transportation.
Sign up at registration 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

We’re Only Human…

Using a buret helped to minimize error in these standard solutions.
Experimental error is always a challenging concept to teach high school chemistry students. I can imagine what goes on in a student’s mind when they get to the section of the conclusion where they must discuss experimental errors. One student thinks, “Hmmmm, I might have done my calculations wrong, that must count as experimental error. After all, it’s an error and it relates to my experiment. Yes, I’ll write about that!” And another student ponders the meaning of life with this thought, “We all make mistakes, it’s just human nature. No one is perfect, so why should I expect my lab to come out right. Human error must be my most significant source of error in this lab. If I write that, then I’ve covered all the bases. Enough said.” And then there’s the classic, “I must have read the graduated cylinder wrong, which led to my final answer for number of moles to be off. That sounds scientific and we must have used a graduated cylinder at least once today.” These thoughts get translated into an error analysis that doesn’t actually say anything meaningful and sheds very little light on the quality of the experimental results.

The “human error” statement is one that has deep roots in our science students. I encounter it nearly every time I collect a set of lab reports, even after I tell them to NEVER write that meaningless phrase in their labs. Chemistry students just can’t seem to help themselves. It must feel so satisfying to write and somehow make them feel like they are being very thorough. When I bring this up at department meetings, my colleagues are as perplexed and annoyed by the “human error” phrase in lab reports as I am. The freshman teachers promise that they aren’t instructing their students to write it, and activity discourage it. I know that the effort I make to eradicated “human error” from lab reports does not completely worked. This week I was shocked to learn that even chemistry majors at Boston University write “human error” in their lab reports. Really?! Maybe they think that college professors are finally able to fully appreciate their philosophical approach to error analysis that is lost on their high school instructors. I’m sure that college professors must think that we are telling student to always include that phrase as a “catch all” for anything that they couldn’t think of at the time of their lab report writing. Let me make this clear to everyone: students just can’t give up on human error, no matter how many ways we tell them that it doesn’t work.

So what do I tell my students when they ask me, “If I can’t blame all my bad results on human error, then what should I write about in my error analysis?” The first place to look is the chemistry. I try to get my students to think through the chemical reaction/system for factors that might take away from the desired outcome. The tricky part about the error discussion is that high school labs usually work pretty well, we don’t have time for experiments that are duds. The next thing I tell them is to look at their data chart. I challenge them to think about things they did (or didn’t do) that would change the data they recorded in during the lab, beyond misreading the graduated cylinder. Ultimately, my goal is to get me students to think critically about their observations and make some decisions about the quality of their work without falling back on broad “hand waving” statements like human error.