5 Sep 2013

IC Top 10 first day activity

In-Class Activity

Submitted by Sheila Smith, University of Michigan- Dearborn
Categories
Description: 

I modified the Barb Reisner/Joanne Stewart/Maggie Geselbracht First Day TOC activity (https://www.ionicviper.org/class-activity/introducing-inorganic-chemistr...) to take advantage of the quarterly list of Top 10 Most Read articles that IC sends out.  This is delivered to me as an email from ACS pubs and I am sure that it is available to anyone who wished to subscribe to the updates.  I have attached a pdf copy of the August 2013 update as an example.  ACS also keeps a running (monthly) list of the top 20 most accessed articles on the website for IC (http://pubs.acs.org/action/showMostReadArticles?journalCode=inocaj) which could be used in a similar way.

This change (away from a complete TOC) provides a smaller list of possible articles for the students to look through covering what  are the most exciting new developments in the field.  

 

I have also modified the question list to get at something I am very interested in personally:  the interdisciplinarity of Inorganic Chemistry.  I did this using the last question about the techniques used in the paper of their choice and the discipline (Physical, analytical, organic. etc) with which they normally associate those techniques.

Learning Goals: 
  • A student should be able to identify the various sub-disciplines of inorganic chemistry.
  • A student should be able to discuss the interdisciplinarity of inorganic chemistry in light of the papers reported quarterly in the Top 10 IC articles
Equipment needs: 

N/A

Implementation Notes: 

I had the students work in pairs to brainstorm and then choose an article that mutually interested them.  I had asked the students to bring electronic devices to class on the day of the activity.  As it turned out, the discussion went long and I sent them home to answer the last two questions, which made it even easier for them to look at pics and abstracts on the web.

Time Required: 
30-50 minutes
Evaluation
Evaluation Methods: 

This is my first day activity, so its true purpose is a warm-up.  I want to get the students talking in class, and talking about inorgainc chemistry.

Evaluation Results: 

I had to lead the students more than expected on the sub-disciplines question.  When it became apparent that they did not understand the question, I modelled what I wanted them to do by characterizing PChem in the same way.

The students turned in the last three questions in the next class period.

Selected comments from student responses:

Re: unexpected topics and themes

  • studies of carbon based molecules
  • C-C bond formation
  • a high emphasis on biological processes/molecules
  • polyaromatics

Re:  graphical images

  • "I think the images helped my understanding of the paper and made it more interesting to me"
  • "There was an image of a somewhat playful grid of brightly colored locks and keys.  This makes me believe the information might be easy to digest.  On the other hand, I feel like it might be oversimplified and it might be leaving out some important information."  (from the mouths of babes...)
  • "the way in which the panels are presented by making them the shape of leaves... made me think of the idea of 'going green'"

Re: techniques

  • "The multiple use of amines, which I know as organic molecules"
  • "I would expect spectrocopy to be used in several disciplines, including orgainc, analyitical and inorganic"
Creative Commons License: 
Creative Commons Licence

Comments

This sounds like a great idea! I plan to use Sheila's suggestion of using the most read papers: http://pubs.acs.org/action/showMostReadArticles?journalCode=inocaj.

If you click on that link, you can select 1 month or 12 months. I plan to use 12 months. If you want to print them or create a pdf, there is a small "Print View" icon on the top right of the page. After you click that, at the very (very) top of the page you are given a choice of including graphics. If you check the include graphics box, you are given a choice of small or large graphics.

I also really like this activity and am planning to use it in my class. I have a question about the types of answers the students gave for the different sub-disciplines and what answers were you expecting? Thanks!

I was expecting organometallic, solid state materials, bioinorganic, coordination chemistry.... I realize now that I should not have expected them to know this at this point.  

How many students do you anticipate would be in this course, or a rough estimate?

I have 50 students (not including potential over rides), and this seems like it is targetted towards a much smaller group.

I used a version of this LO to start my course in Fall 2013.  I printed out a bunch of inorganic chemistry graphical abstracts and use those to start discussion on what the course will include.  I asked them what surprised them about what was published in Inorg. Chem.  Student answers included things about biochemistry, electronics, and one student in particular was amazed that gold did any chemistry, given his preconception that gold was inert.  This was a great way to set up the tone for the course.  I'll do this again.

Stephanie-  I did this with a class of 37 students.  It is definitely a time commitment, but to me it is worth it to set the tone for the course.  It is also an excellent way to kill the time that is left on that first day after going over the syllabus.

I like this assignment and will try to use it in my inorganic class next year (~12 students).    Last semester as a way to get my students more familiar with the subsdisciplines of inorganic we viewed the suite of journals published by ACS that include inorganic topics.  We looked over the ACS pubs page and talked about each of the journal (this could be done with RSC or Elsevier as well).  As an extension of this discussion and as a way to further their exposure to the literature, I required the students to sign up for ASAP alerts for at least three inorganic related journals.  Each Monday we would take a few minutes of class for students to discuss what they found interesting in the most recent emails from ACS Pubs. 

I just did a tweaked version of this today with 10 jr/sr chemistry majors.  The big result from our discussion was their surprise at non-stoichiometric compounds, how many new terms there were (even just in titles), and the prevalence of biochemistry themes.  Most of them already know that nanochem shows up everywhere...because that's what I do.  Students were also impressed by the variety of subdisciplines represented within Inorganic chemistry.  This LO activity was particularly valuable in that my course is also "writing intensive"--so it helped me hit all of the important themes of the course on the first day.

I tried this for the first time in my advanced inorganic class on the first day of class.  The students struggled a bit to come up with a list of the subdisciplines of inorganic chemistry.  They weren't used to thinking in units smaller than their class subjects (organic/analytic/physical/etc).  The big result from my class was how interested they were in the graphics and how most of them chose their favorites not by what they were doing in their research projects (all are seniors also working on their senior thesis projects) but by how understandable the graphics were.

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