Chemistry plays a vital role in our daily lives, whether we are aware of it or not. From the medication we take, to cooking, eating or even the gasoline we use to fuel our cars. It all involves some aspect of chemistry. While this is true and can be exciting for some to fully understand the role chemistry plays in our lives, it can still be challenging for students to understand the fundamental concepts, thus creating a persistent struggle for our students to excel in their first semester of chemistry. To address this challenge, the Chemistry Department launched its first free Chemistry Jam workshop at the beginning of the Spring 2019 semester with the support of the President’s Innovation Funds.
The workshop ran for six days, with a total of 18 Skyline College and High School students participating. Students who participated in the workshop wanted to develop studying techniques, note-taking skills, build confidence to ask questions during lectures, improve laboratory skills and understand concepts that will better prepare them for their first chemistry course. Throughout the workshop, students engaged in inquiry-based learning thereby stimulating and motivating them throughout the learning process. Built into each concept was a hands-on laboratory activity which allowed each student the ability to apply the concepts that they learned.
Working in groups, students carried out a variety of measurements using different laboratory equipment, which they then apply concepts of unit conversion learned to convert from one unit of measurement to another. By far, stoichiometry is one most challenging concepts. Student participants were able to get a better understanding of limiting and excess reactants by looking at the reaction of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and acetic acid (vinegar). By comparing the amount of carbon dioxide generated when varying amounts of baking soda react with a given amount of vinegar, immediately each student was able to identity the limiting and excess reactant in each reaction mixture.
A student participant entering Chemistry 410 this spring semester shared, “This was a great workshop, it helped to build my confidence and provided me with resources that will help me succeed this Spring.” We encourage students who plan to enroll in chemistry for the Fall semester to participate in the next workshop beginning July 29, 2019 – August 2, 2019.
Article by Safiyyah Forbes | Photo by Brittney Sneed