Chemical acrostic is used as a teaching tool in descriptive inorganic chemistry. This is an active learning approach to engage the students with a fun classroom activity. The acrostics are designed by Simon Cotton and published in the Royal Society of Chemistry's education resource magazine "The Mole." The students are divided into groups of two or three to work on the acrostics. To come up with the answers, the students engage in meaningful group discussions that enhance conceptual understanding. Further discussions can be stimulated by asking the students to explain their answers to the clues. This activity will also help students review and assess their understanding of descriptive inorganic chemistry (chemical and physical properties, periodic trends, biological and environmental aspects of chemical elements and their compounds).
The acrostics cover a broad array of topics. Examples of possible learning outcomes include the following. Students will be able to: 1. explain periodic trends 2. learn about the uses of elements on the periodic table 3. understand the biological and medicinal properties/roles of elements and their compounds 4. understand general reactivity of elements.
Free online access to The Mole (www.rsc.org/TheMole). Click on any of the issues and then download the puzzle located at the end of the publication.
The instructors can make the activity more fun by turning the game into a competition among the groups. The first group to complete the acrostic gets a "prize". Discussion session may be very useful in identifying learning gaps or conceptual misunderstandings.
The students get extra credit for successfully completing the acrostic.
The students complete the acrostics in 5-10 minutes. Because they work in groups and are allowed to use their text, they usually complete the entire acrostic successfully.