Exothermic and Endothermic Reactions – an Assignment OER

Someone in the know started teaching middle school chemistry about an year ago. A few months into the job, she needed help with her unit on exothermic and endothermic reactions. She specifically needed a classroom assignment to gauge her students’ understanding of the unit. The following is what I came up with to help her meet her goal.

This file lay dormant in my folder since then. I thought it would make a good post on day ‘E’ of the A to Z blog challenge.

Chemists, chemistry educators and you fine people – what do you think of the assignment?


An eye for types of research. And a nose for a research question.

The following is an exercise that I had my students do after explaining to them the different types of research. Over the years, I have enjoyed my Research Methodology classes the best, but this particular section on types of research proves to be the one where I have done well to throw my students’ minds up and over and beyond a bar, and made them go after their minds. This is the session where Jane Goodall, nanoparticle synthesis and Rajinikanth (for the first time this year) all enter my classroom in a bid to expand my students’ minds and make explicit the different kinds of research.

The second exercise in the Exercise Sheet was intended to make the students look for research questions in the news pieces they normally read.

The same file in MS-Word format can be downloaded here: types-of-research.

Un-jargonising jargon

The 8th point of discussion in our 17 Views of Research is as under:

Research involves a lot of jargon.

To explain what jargon is, I had another little exercise sheet with me. This sheet contained abstracts of three research articles. I chose these three abstracts with a specific reason in mind. The first abstract (which is not an abstract per se, but the opening paragraph of the article) is from Current Science. As the name indicates, the journal publishes results from all disciplines in science. The USP for choosing this ‘abstract’ was that it contained terms (protein content, total N, colorimetry, near infrared reflectance spectroscopy) that a Chemistry student could definitely make sense of. The second abstract is from Journal of Physical Chemistry B. But this particular research pertains to Monte Carlo Simulations, which is a rather rarefied domain in Chemistry research. The third abstract is from a Mathematical journal, and was chosen for a non-Chemistry point of view, while not being completely divorced from Science.

The idea was to present this exercise sheet to the students, have them read the abstracts and write a very brief note on what they understood in there. But the way it turned out in class was that I ended up reading the abstracts to them, and the studentsĀ  then came up with their verbal impressions of the abstracts.

In their attempts to verbalise the abstract content, the students were in essence simplifying the technical discipline-specific terms into everyday language. With a little help from me on what Monte Carlo Simulations entailed, the students could un-jargonise the second abstract as well.

We didn’t have much success with un-jargonising the third abstract, except for getting a general idea of what the research was about. This was precisely my intention to enable them to understand that jargon is discipline-specific.



The Exercise Sheet used in class can be downloaded here: jargon – abstract


Artificial Radioactivity

The final screencast that I made for my Nuclear Chemistry class was on Artificial Radioactivity. The same is linked here.


The screencast and the quiz that followed it was administered in the same way as described here.

The quiz this time around isn’t objective. Here it follows. Nuclear Chemistry Quiz 2


17 Views of Research

This was the exercise my students and I did in the secondĀ  Research Methodology class. The first class accounted for an orientation to what they could expect in the course, which included a discussion of the syllabus.

The second class hour was divided into three exercises. Exercise 1 was meant to invite the students to define research. It was understandably to get an idea of what they thought research was. This was their ‘learned’ idea so to think.

The way I have striven to handle this course is to make my students unlearn what they have gleaned from over the years of their education. It hasn’t always been easy, but it definitely has been fun.

The Exercise 2 in this exercise sheet was an attempt to make them discuss about the 17 points given therein. This made for an enthusiastic participation from the students, and also gave me the chance to elaborate more on what research is, and is not, taking on on their inputs.

So yes, after this exercise the students had to come up with their second definition of research based on the class discussion of the 17 points in Exercise 2.

After this had been done, the formal definition of research was presented to the students.

This was one of the best exercises I have had thus far in my Research Methodology Class in making my students think, making them present their case, defend their point, to logically debate with others, and finally to see the light, so to speak.

The Exercise sheet follows here.

17 views of research


The same exercise in the MS-Word format can be downloaded here: 17 views of research

Introduction to Nuclear Chemistry

I was at Bangalore for a workshop as the semester began. So, to keep my students constructively engaged in my absence, I made the two screencasts in this post and the one in the post after this. The idea was to have them watch these in the class, and attempt a couple of Quiz assignments, but for some reasons this could not be done.

Anyway, back in my class I made use of these three screencasts to set up a flipped classroom, though with a difference. I plan to put up a separate post on flipped classroom, but for the moment this is what transpired in my Nuclear Chemistry classroom.

I divided the class into two batches.

(i) The first batch (11 students) was given time to watch the two videos linked here. Following this they attempted a quiz. Since this was all an objective set of questions, and the number of students in the batch was not too big, a quick perusal of the answers was done, and a just-in-time lecture was delivered based on the performance of the students. Now the students attempted the same quiz one more time.

(ii) The second batch (13 students), on the other hand, was taught the content in the video in the traditional chalk-and-board way. And they too attempted the same quiz.

I have the data from the quiz attempted by both the batches of the students. Will put up the results in due course.

Here are the screencasts and the Quiz assignment.

Screencast 1


Screencast 2


The Quiz assignment based on the two screencasts follows below.

Nuclear Chemistry Quiz 1

The key to the quiz is here: Nuclear Chemistry Quiz 1_Key