General Chemistry

General Chemistry

Representing Energy

When you think of things in terms of energy you can represent energy … energy can be modelled as a particle, as matter.  It can be modelled using waves and then trying to talk about how we would use each model as it's appropriate for a particular situation.  It's the sort of things we observe might dictate which model we use to explain it, by recognising that in each case there is another model but perhaps just not as useful.  So maybe it goes back to just trying to show that everything that we do is a model, every model has its upside and its downside and that we usually only use a model t

Holistic Approach

I think personally the quicker the students can see that holistic approach to chemistry the better... Because that’s when they start to realise how cool it is.

The Basic Structure Of Matter

This understanding builds students' knowledge about the basic structure of matter which stimulates them to think in sub-microscopic level that provides the fundamental understanding for further chemistry learning.

A New Language

Chemistry is a different language so I try to approach it that way by explaining the ideas behind symbols.

Be Available For Students

If a student comes to you with a fundamental misunderstanding, try to sit with them one-on-one if you can, and try to find out what their problem is and try to help them. Always try to be open, always try to be available. That’s very difficult in first year, due to the large number of students, but just try to help people. Be honest and open.

Weave in Examples

As usual, try to weave in some real-world examples.

Multiple Resources

If you look at the resources - students’ have textbooks, they have electronic media, they have Sapling. They can do the problems in their own time in a guided way with something like Sapling. All we as lecturers have to do is give them the framework to solve the problems.

Read the full quote here

Link to Sapling Learning


Use Both PowerPoint and Visualiser

Use two screens in a lecture and then turn one off and go to the visualiser and spend time on the visualiser drawing things or solving problems or writing something. And at that point the class becomes engaged. So when you’re using PowerPoint, unless you’re really good with it, they’ll disengage. If you start writing and drawing structures and things on the visualiser, they start doing it and then it becomes much more interactive - they’re working from the visualiser then they’re back to the PowerPoint and then back to the visualiser again.

Put Material into Context

You can liken teaching chemistry to hacking your way through a forest. It’s a lot of detail, and you can’t expect students to do the hard work of fighting their way through the forest or the jungle, unless they have a global view of where they’re going. Keep going back to applications in the real world. How is it that geckos can crawl up a wall, and sit on the ceiling without falling off? How is it they’re able to stay there with gluey legs or something? How do they maximise the attractions between the molecules in their feet and the molecules in the ceiling?

Particle-Wave Model

Try to show students that the fundamental form of matter is energy. Then that this can be represented as particles with mass or as waves (wave functions). Then try to show them that we use the model particle/wave that best helps us understand different phenomena. In class I often do this by asking questions about wave mechanics in particle terms. eg. If a 2s orbital has a node how can the electron pass accross it? Then explain to them the limitations and advantages of each approach.


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