Wisdom Begins with Wonder

Project Sketch: My Element

Periodic-genius

Project Title: My Element

Driving Question: Which chemical element best represents me and why?

Snapshot:

Each student will select an element and create and present a multimedia product to illustrate the relationship between him or her and their element. They will describe how they and their element are similar and different. These similarities could be based upon structure, properties, periodic table family or location, common uses of the element, history, etc.

Summary of Activities:

After a brief introduction to elements and the periodic table (through labs, discussions, and video clips – and of course, The Element Song!), students will begin to research various chemical elements. After a few days of general research, each student will select an element to represent them. They will then research their element in depth and create a multimedia product and presentation to educate their peers about their element through the lens of how it represents them. Over the course of the project, I will give facilitate learning experiences about atomic structure, the periodic table, element properties, etc. After each learning experience, students will research that aspect of their element and further develop their presentation.

 

 



5 comments ↓

  • #   Jerrid Kruse on 09.24.11 at 11:08 pm     

    I’m skeptical. I see what you may be trying to do by
    Roving some context & relationship to learning about an element, but I truly think it will be forced and/or feigned (sp?) by the students. Hell, they may even claim to enjoy the project, but I am still left wondering how such a project leads to deep understanding of fundamental chemistry ideas. This may be pseudo context.

    Consider treating, as Mendeleev & others did, the periodic table & the atom as puzzles to be solved. Ask students to figure out why the periodic table looks the way it does & how the patterns fit with what is known about atomic structure. Then ask, how ELSE could the table be structured & still make sense? This problem/puzzle solving will not connect to their everyday lives, but it is an inherently interesting task to take on. Much like any puzzle, the task is as interesting as the outcome.

    Sorry for the straightforwardness of my initial comments, but that’s what friends are for :)


  • #   Mary (edm 310 student) on 09.25.11 at 10:01 am     

    I think this is a good way to make the students feel more connected to the subject. Maybe this project will lessen the dread of having to memorize the elements for tests, but increase the students’ interest in what they are learning. Very interesting approach.
    I also like the periodic puzzle idea. It sounds like it would be a really good group project or individual study to prepare for the test.

    Hope it all goes well!!!


  • #   Mr. Rice on 09.27.11 at 6:07 pm     

    Jerrid,

    Thanks for the honest feedback. You know just as well as I do that I posted this here to get real feedback, not empty pats on the back.

    I totally get what you are saying and I have some of the same concerns myself. Every year, when I teach this content, I feel like I have to trump up something to make it interesting and memorable. Last year, I got a new “project based” chemistry curriculum. The final assessment for the first chapter was to create a game about the periodic table. This was a joke! Nearly all of the games were based on recall of random factoids and no real learning. I told myself right then that I’d do something better this year.

    I love your suggestion about the periodic table analysis. I am thinking of a way to work that in to a project with a product to share with a real audience. It feels more like a learning experience than a project.

    Another thought I had – stay with me here – was to ask them to compare their element to a superhero, famous figure, etc. They could then organize their famous figures into periodic families based on the properties of the figures. This too, though, feels like more of a learning experience along the way, rather than a project that drives their learning.


  • #   Mr. Rice on 09.27.11 at 6:08 pm     

    Mary,

    Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m hoping I can put together something engaging that leads to genuine, lasting learning.


  • #   jerrid kruse on 09.27.11 at 6:16 pm     

    Tyler, I think your concerns about the superhero context are similar to my concerns with the current activity. However, i like the idea of organizing the superheroes into periodic groups. I think the following link/article will be of interest:

    http://www.iacad.org/istj/35/2/paint.pdf

    rather than link the element to something, have student take on the overall table organization. I think the organization of the table is where you are going to hit the more fundamental chemical concepts.


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