Here is what I know:
As I stand today, I currently do not know much about the history of chemistry. I can tell you that Mendeleev created the periodic table. We can talk about gases and I can state the laws of important men such as Boyle, Charles, and Gay- Lussac. I know one of the most notable names would be that of Avogardro and his oh so important number of 6.02×1023. I know what all these numbers, equations, and tools mean, but stating them and understanding a concept is very different than the underlying investigations to discover them. I know these concepts are important to the basis of chemistry, and students should learn about them in the classroom. I know as a teacher it should be my job to communicate not only the concept but the history in the process of discovery and scientific inquiry as well. I know students benefit from learning the history of these concepts in order to enhance their understanding of the nature of science.
- Discovering elements and creating the periodic table. I also want to know how elements are still being discovered today.
- Avogadro and how he discovered the concept of the mole
- The inquiry process to the development of the gas laws
- Discovering types of reactions
- Developing rules for acid and base chemistry
From the list above, the following questions serve as the most important:
- Which discoveries do I deem the most important to highlight the history of in my class?
- How did these scientists come about discovering these foundations of chemistry and what makes them so important?
- How can I successfully incorporate history into my classroom without making it boring or useless information my students may not care to retain after they leave my class?!?!
My hope in all my inquires is to discover ways to teach my students the history of chemistry in order to enhance or reinforce their understanding of the concept. I realize that the history of chemistry is large and occurred over a large time period. As I begin this initial research the topics above may or may not be what I focus in on. I want to discover what aspects are the most interesting and will be the most engaging for my students. I want to discover labs that mimic the way chemists discovered their laws, themes, and ideas. I want to use these labs as introductions to the concept in class and have my students discover these ideas all on their own. Learning through exploration and hands on experience can really enhance a students ability to challenge misconceptions and build the structures they need to understand chemistry.
Some Potential Resources to Guide the Way
This Day in Science History: http://chemistry.about.com/od/thisdayinsciencehistory/
The link above provides links to each day throughout the year. It contains brief texts for each day of multiple scientific things that occurred. This information could be used in the classroom as an opening sponge activity for the students to read and reflect on the implications of what happened on this day. It can be used to even develop a potential writing to learn (WTL) activity!
The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements By Sam Kean
” The Periodic Table is a crowning scientific achievement, but it’s also a treasure trove of adventure, betrayal, and obsession. These fascinating tales follow every element on the table as they play out their parts in human history, and in the lives of the (frequently) mad scientists who discovered them. THE DISAPPEARING SPOON masterfully fuses science with the classic lore of invention, investigation, and discovery–from the Big Bang through the end of time.” ~Amazon.com Book Summary
I think this book will be a great tool for students to learn more about the elements they encounter daily in chemistry. I am eager to read it and explore how these discoveries were made!
Napoleon’s Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History By Penny Le Couteur
“Napoleon’s Buttons is the fascinating account of seventeen groups of molecules that have greatly influenced the course of history. These molecules provided the impetus for early exploration, and made possible the voyages of discovery that ensued. The molecules resulted in grand feats of engineering and spurred advances in medicine and law; they determined what we now eat, drink, and wear. A change as small as the position of an atom can lead to enormous alterations in the properties of a substance-which, in turn, can result in great historical shifts.” ~Amazon.com Book Summary
I think this book goes along with the previous, but can help bring the relevancy of the impact of the history of chemistry into the classroom. I am eager to explore its contents.
Creations of Fire: Chemistry’s Lively History from Alchemy to the Atomic Age By: Cathy Cobb
“In this fascinating history, Cathy Cobb and Harold Goldwhite celebrate not only chemistry’s theories and breakthroughs but also the provocative times and personalities that shaped this amazing science and brought it to life. Throughout the book, the reader will meet the hedonists and swindlers, monks and heretics, and men and women laboring in garages and over kitchen sinks who expanded our understanding of the elements and discovered such new substances as plastic, rubber, and aspirin. Creations of Fire expands our vision of the meaning of chemistry and reveals the oddballs and academics who have helped shape our world.” ~Book Summary
I would use this book for my own knowledge to read up and inform myself on the history of chemistry
Chemical Heritage Foundation: http://www.chemheritage.org/discover/online-resources/chemistry-in-history/activities/index.aspx
This website has some great links to lesson plans that involve the history of chemistry. It is exactly what I am looking to learn to do in my classroom. Further exploration around the website also provides more information on the history of chemistry.