Every time I teach inorganic, I always ask myself the question: “What’s the best way to motivate the course and get the students excited?” A long time ago, I decided it’s important to start with some music. (Until last year, Tom Lehrer’s The Elements was my favorite. As a TMBG fan, I’ve swiched to Meet the Elements.)
This year I decided to take 15 minutes today and ask my students: What is Inorganic Chemistry? I had them brainstorm in small groups of 3-4, write their definitions down, and share them with the group. Based on their definitions, inorganic chemistry is…
(1) chemistry that doesn't contain carbon.
(2) chemistry that doesn't contain hydrocarbons.
(3) the chemistry of the transition metals and their effect on the atoms around them.
(4) studying how the size and orientation of molecular orbitals affect ionic bonds.
I then took the opportunity to open up the current issue of ACS journal Inorganic Chemistry and look at the titles and graphics to demonstrate the diversity of the field and help them refine their definitions.
What do you do to start off your inorganic courses?
A student should gain an appreciation of the breadth of the field of inorganic chemistry.
I did no formal assessment on this activitiy.
I definitely met the goal of showing the diversity of the field and I think students were surprised at the breadth of inorganic chemistry.
Would I do it again? Yes. I’d probably pick a specific paper to talk a little more about or read the ToC a bit better so I could better discuss the applications of the research.