P751a: “Figure it out” investigation of limiting reactants

Author: Ingrid Ulbrich, Colorado State University, USA

Co-Author: Amelia Dickerson, University of Colorado, USA

Date: 8/6/14

Time: 10:15 AM10:25 AM

Room: MAK B1120

Related Symposium: S57

I wrote this lab to help students make connections between their observations of limiting-reactant reactions and symbolic, pictorial, and graphical representations of the results. By the end of this experiment, students have run five flasks with a gas-evolving reaction, collected the gas in balloons, measured the volume of the balloons, and recorded their data-typical activities for this type of experimental exercise. During the experiment, however, students have to figure out two methods for determining the volume of the balloons, stoichiometric amounts of reactants, amounts of reactants for the five systems, and how to organize their data in a logical way-activities requiring more rigorous critical thinking and problem solving. Post-lab activities ask students to construct graphs of volume of product vs. amount of reactant and amount of excess reactant vs. amount of the varied starting reactant. In this talk, I will show how the instructions guide students through the “figure it out” process, providing support for these challenging tasks.

P586: Placing interactive technology into the hands of students: Student perspectives on PhET simulations in the general chemistry curriculum

Author: Julia M. Chamberlain, University of Colorado - Boulder, USA

Co-Author: Ingrid M. Ulbrich, Colorado State University, USA; Robert Parson, University of Colorado Boulder and JILA, USA; Katherine K. Perkins, University of Colorado Boulder, USA

Date: 8/5/14

Time: 2:05 PM2:25 PM

Room: MAK B1100

Related Symposium: S44

Chemistry students confront a variety of difficult concepts that involve molecular-level processes, which are inaccessible to direct observation. Simulations and animations can help students to visualize these processes and connect their mental imagery to the symbolic representations used by experts. In this work we examine the use of PhET interactive simulations in a first-semester general chemistry course of approximately 600 students. PhET simulations feature open, exploratory environments with intuitive interfaces that enable student-directed investigation, and serve as flexible tools for faculty use in a variety of pedagogical contexts. More than 20 simulations were incorporated throughout the curriculum in several formats, including student-driven and instructor-led activities in class. Student perceptions of simulation utility and student-reported use of simulations were assessed in two surveys, administered at intervals through the term. Here, we will examine factors that affect student perceptions of simulations and reflect on how these outcomes inform choices about using simulations in class. Finally, we will discuss the potential implications that different use modes have on student perceptions of simulations and expectations for the process of learning chemistry.

P587: Students’ use of interactive simulations in lecture: Instructor perspectives

Author: Ingrid Ulbrich, Colorado State University, USA

Co-Author: Julia Chamberlain, University of Colorado, USA

Date: 8/5/14

Time: 2:25 PM2:45 PM

Room: MAK B1100

Related Symposium: S44

One of my major goals as an instructor is to help students build critical thinking skills and engage in scientific practices by asking questions, constructing explanations, and investigating systems themselves. Accomplishing this in lecture poses logistical challenges and has time constraints, while assigning these tasks outside of class diminishes the instructor’s ability to facilitate student learning and guide discussion in real time, with all students present. I choose to use in-class time for student simulation use and invite the 250+ students in my general chemistry lecture to bring their laptop/phone/tablet for this purpose. With effective guiding questions and follow-up clicker questions, my students collaboratively describe their observations in lay and technical language and participate in instructor-guided, whole-class discussion. In this talk, I will discuss how I use interactive simulations to address these goals and challenges, using an activity style that combines lecture, guided inquiry, and student simulation investigation. I will share my recommendations for choosing simulations that work well for in-class activities, writing effective guiding questions, and reflections on this practice and its use in a co-teaching environment.