In this issue:
Mathematics: Building Blocks for Success in Chemistry
Teaching Ratio and Proportion: More than Cross-Multiply and Divide
Lab Safety Agreement: Protecting Students and Teachers
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Welcome to the third issue of Teacher Connection, a free online monthly newsletter to provide teachers with effective teaching techniques and helpful ideas and tools for explaining chemistry and mathematics concepts to students of all levels.

Mathematics: Building Blocks for Success in Chemistry
More than half of first-year Chemistry relies on the student's ability to utilize fundamental mathematics skills for problem solving. While many students have just finished Algebra II at this grade level, Chemistry I may be the first time students have ever been required to apply mathematics outside of the math classroom, which can be a difficult transition. Even students who were very successful in Algebra find it challenging to apply the same mathematical concepts to chemistry. They may have adapted to solving for x or y, but when these unknowns become molecules or moles, the problem is perceived as being much more difficult. Most good chemistry textbooks provide a review chapter on required mathematics skills. However, working problems is the most effective way for students to understand concepts in the context of chemistry. This is the motivation for the development of the Quantum Tutors Applied Mathematics software. The Tutors cover key topics (e.g. Measurement, Ratio and Proportion, Metric Units, Percentages and Scientific Notation) required for chemistry and other high school science subjects. Please visit www.quantumsimulations.com for a virtual tour and brief demonstration of these Tutors.

Teaching Ratio and Proportion: More than Cross-Multiply and Divide
It's easy to "train" students to "cross-multiply and divide" but it is very difficult to teach students to recognize proportionality and to think proportionally. An excellent opportunity to instill the concept of ratio and proportion is found in the study of gas laws. With gas law problems, applying good proportional reasoning can frequently solve the problem more quickly than the calculator. Also, a little proportional thinking will identify errors that might otherwise slip by. The Quantum Tutor for Ratio and Proportion will teach your students to use reasoning when analyzing answers. Just accepting what the calculator says as correct will never develop the reasoning skills necessary for success. Develop a set of appropriate problems to be solved using the Quantum Tutor for Ratio and Proportion and assign them just prior to starting the study of the gas laws. You'll find it saves time and improves results. Please visit www.quantumsimulations.com for a virtual tour and brief demonstration of the Ratio and Proportion Tutor.

Lab Safety Agreement: Protecting Students and Teachers
A number of teachers have written to us about the importance of lab safety. The beginning of a new school semester is an ideal time to give appropriate consideration to safety in the chemistry lab. In recent years, safety in the lab has taken on two different definitions. The first is the traditional concern for the protection of students from undue risk associated with dangerous chemicals, flames and broken glass. But the second, which has reached a point where it actually rivals the first, is protection of the teacher from frivolous law suits associated with lab accidents. Both students and teachers can be protected with appropriate documentation. A well prepared lecture on lab safety is a crucial first step. In addition, consider a document detailing lab safety rules that each student signs. A document of this sort should be provided with the textbook materials you have selected. Take great care to use these materials exactly as directed by the publisher. This added emphasis encourages the student to seriously consider their actions and share the responsibility for keeping themselves and others safe in the chemistry lab.

More Teaching Tips from Quantum coming in October!


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Al Renshaw Director, Education Programs
Phone: (724) 772-8014 Fax: (724) 772-8042

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