Submitted by Joanne Stewart / Hope College on Fri, 07/18/2008 - 21:32
My Notes

Students read Oliver Sacks' autobiography "Uncle Tungsten" and take turns writing chapter summaries and discussion questions. Some chapters focus on Sacks' childhood chemical explorations and others on the historical period of his youth. In the summary, students are asked to either explain the chemistry in contemporary terms OR explain the context (what was going on in the world) of the historical pieces.

Implementation Notes

We spread this out throughout the semester, reading a couple chapters a week. Students posted their discussion questions to our class web site.

Time Required
All semester.
Evaluation Methods

I have attached a copy of the rubric I used for the students' chapter summaries. We discussed some of the discussion questions in class and I put some of them on the hour tests. I have attached a file with some samples of student discussion questions.

Evaluation Results

We did this for fun and to push students to think about the chemistry they were learning in a very different context. It did, in fact, turn out to be a lot of fun; one of the most fun things I've done in a class. Students commented that it was the first time they had been asked to read a novel in a chemistry class.

Creative Commons License
Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share Alike CC BY-NC-SA