Paul and Gayle are taking a year from their roles in Picton and Belleville and will be teaching at the Maple Leaf International School in Trinidad. We will use this blog to record some of our edventures!

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Why I love teaching Science...

It looks as though I've been neglecting my blogging duties as of late. Not that this is a competition, but I can't let Paul log more blogs on our Trini homestretch. So here goes.

It's Monday night of our last full week of classes. I've recently had two really great experiences that once again confirmed my love of teaching, and in particular, teaching science. Last Friday, I decided to let my Chemistry boys loose on a gas lab. Perhaps not what you think. They were given the challenge to design a lab with the given materials to determine what kind of relationship exists between pressure and volume. I know - super cool, right? Well, they ate it up. They were problem solving solutions to design issues and equipment failures. They were making connections and thinking like scientists. It was very refreshing!

A few weeks ago while learning about light one of my grade 10 boys asked if we could make glow sticks. Well, today was the day to try it out. Rather than just make glow sticks (how easy is that), I decided to turn the activity into an experiment. In researching how to make glow sticks, I discovered hydrogen peroxide is a main ingredient needed to get luminol to fluoresce. It just so happens that you can buy 3%, 6% and 9% peroxide in pharmacies here in Trinidad. Not sure why you'd need 9% H2O2 to clean a cut, but that is for another blog. Back to the experiment. My students, donned in lab coats, goggles and gloves, went to work making their solutions. And then came the moment of truth - mixing of the solutions to see which would glow the brightest.

Disclaimer: As a teacher and often more specifically as a science teacher, lessons and science don't always "work".

When the solutions were mixed, the resulting solution was, as Karishma called it, "pee" yellow. No glow, no nothing, and no difference between the 3%, 6%, 9% peroxides. And then Marc and Jorge called me over and talked about a purply-blue colour, and with the skeptical look on my face proceeded to show me the video they had taken. Indeed the reaction was initially fluorescing. Too bad we decided at the end of the lab to turn the lights off so we could see it!!!

Although some may think of this as a failed experiment, I see all of the great learning that happened. Again, problems were solved, key observations were made and new questions were asked. And that is why I truly love teaching science.

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