I don't like to toot my own horn, but I have some pretty big news to announce to the community. I have just received word from the National Science Foundation that I am receiving a new grant! Oh sure, the leadership council will claim to be responsible for this funding (especially Joanne Stewart, Barb Reisner and Jeff Raker the PI's), but we all really know that I am the one pulling the strings with this whole organizaiton. What does this mean for you, our loyal BITeS readers? Plenty! We have some bold ideas for shaping foundation level inorganic courses. We will be holding more workshops.
Going to a Gordon Research Conference, I expected I would come back and write a BITEs post about some of the great chemistry I saw and how I was inspired to do a million different experiments. While that is partly true, the conference proved to be extremely educational in a way I did not expect. It started early in the conference when a tenured faculty member at a research university told a story of how older male colleagues would whistle at her on days she was a bit more fancily dressed.
In response to a talk I gave at the Mid-atlantic ACS Regional Meeting, the friendly VIPEr folks asked me to write a BITes about my POGIL-type materials for inorganic chemistry. Very briefly, POGIL (Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning) is an active-learning model intended to supplant traditional lectures. Students work in groups on carefully written materials (“Activities”) that guide them to a more independent development of key concepts and course content.
We're right in the midst of summer research season and around the chemistry department at Lafayette that can only mean one thing, video scavenger hunt time. As a department we try and do one fun event a week with the students. That can be things like a movie, mini-golf, bowling, etc. 14 years ago I came up with the idea of creating a photo scavenger hunt for the students and it was quite a hit. This morphed into a video scavenger hunt 11 years ago. From its humble beginnings it has grown quite significantly.
My inorganic chemistry lab manual has all sorts of policies, procedures, experimental instructions, and examples of what to do in the lab and for the writeups. My manual is quite specific in how I want lab reports to appear, and what I want in them. For example, I want a reaction scheme, a reagent table, an evaluation of possible characterization methods (with limited time, which methods are the best to do first?), a detailed experimental section and a complete, open-ended, discussion that analyzes the data from their synthetic reaction.
If you recall, I was very concerned back in January that my inorganic chemistry course was going off the rails. Flo has invited me to give a follow-up report on why I don’t think the class was a trainwreck after all.
This week was the first week in the lab for me and my three summer research students. One of my priorities was to think about how to manage three students working on three different projects.
I needed a system that allows the students to track their results and their thoughts about future work while I also contribute my ideas / suggestions for experiments.
For the past two years, students in my advanced inorganic course have prepared a periodic table of cupcakes as part of our campus-wide celebration of student scholarly work. Whether or not making cupcakes qualifies as scholarship is up for debate, but we do incorporate a scholarly component. For more information about this year’s effort, see the learning object about our periodic table trivia contest.
The 2017 Symmetry challenge has come and gone and I wanted to give a big thank you to all the participants. In the end there were 12 intrepid scholars who contributed their symmetrized objects to the challenge, from three schools. Sadly, I have to report that no one from my class submitted the challenge. Perhaps the stakes were too low... er... should I say the "snakes" were too low?