Science 9 – Once again I managed to get a bit stuck into a rut with Chemistry in Science 9. Lots of problems with these topics and lessons. First of all, formulas and naming just isn’t that interesting. Students like to participate in discussions on atoms, electrons, etc, but the mechanics of naming compounds is pretty dry.
Nevertheless, I did my best to use some constructivist methodologies for these topics. At some point the kids just have to be told some information, such that roman numerals are used to describe which ion charge a metal has.
I am continually surprised at how difficult students find the writing and naming of chemical formulas, I keep thinking that it’s something that I’m doing wrong and if I what I’m doing, the kids will be okay. I debriefed on this topic with my students and it became clear that there are so many small things to “know” that the kids get confused.
I wonder if this type of topic is perhaps better served with some old school memorization quizzing and testing, prior to solidifying conceptual understandings. In other words, nail the “knowing” first. This argument is made often in maths, as well.
I actually had students figure out atom ratios for ionic compounds by drawing Bohr diagrams, prior to them being told any rules for writing formulas. However, this kind of work/learning never seemed to transfer over to mastering the skill of writing formulas for compounds.
Truth be told, I think these topics are so out of context and abstract that they’re pretty much useless. I would bet that a Chemistry 11 student could learn all of the naming rules in two classes, and that doing it at this grade level is truly not worth the effort. This is also the last year this topic will be covered in science 9…