2017 Midwest Regional Meeting

K-12 Teaching Program

University of Kansas School of Pharmacy

Saturday, October 21, 2017

8:00 am - 12:00 pm


“What’s in your water? A chemistry inquiry project on fertilizers”

By Jennifer Gartner, Chemistry Teacher at Labette County High School

Research indicates repeatedly that the highest learning happens when students find their own way to an answer. Yet, in the chemistry laboratory it is only the brave or crazy instructor who would let students loose in the chemical storage room to perform their own experiments.  Can students explore chemical reactions in a meaningful and safe manner?  Yes! At this session you will learn about a new inquiry lab for chemistry students that uses the solubility rules for solution to precipitate the phosphorus from fertilizer run off.  By exploring the inventory of the chemical storage room, students make predictions utilizing the solubility rules, and then they go into the lab to verify their predictions.  The experiment can be extended to investigate concentration effects (also a solutions topic). The exercise was developed as part of a “Research Experiences for Teachers” program at the University of Kansas.


“Applications of computational chemistry in the High School Classroom”

By Stan Spurlin, Chemistry Teacher, Olathe East High School, and Marco Caricato, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, University of Kansas

The current trend in chemical education at the high school level, both in NGSS and in the AP “Big Ideas” is toward understanding interactions at the particulate (molecular) level and relating these to the observable properties.  With advances in computational chemistry, computer modeling, and the improved availability of computers at the high school level, an ideal situation has been created to allow students to explore at the molecular level using that “molecular microscope” we so often refer to and to develop a better understanding of the role of electron interactions and energy minimization in chemical processes.  Using only PC-based fully compiled freeware, a series of modules have been developed which allow students to build simple molecules, use the calculation program to optimize the structure and energy, and then conduct comparative evaluations for electron densities, bond lengths and angles, adherence to VSEPR theory, and polarity related to intermolecular forces.  Students compare their calculated results with either results from the literature or, in the case of IMFs, to trends they developed themselves in the laboratory.


“Scientific Argumentation: Instructional methods to engage students in higher order reasoning”

By Dr. Janis Bulgren, Research Professor, University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning

In this presentation, you will learn about a new tool you can use to enhance argumentation in the classroom.  The tool helps teachers interactively guide students through the process of evaluating a claim made by others, and making and explaining claims based on evidence from laboratory experiments. This tool, a graphic organizer, is used with instructional procedures that utilize discourse and collaborative development of understanding and reasoning. The Scientific Argumentation tool and procedures are designed to respond to NGSS challenges associated with reasoning about claims: evaluating evidence, identifying the reasoning and logic, judging the quality of the evidence and reasoning, developing counterarguments and rebuttals, and explaining decisions and reasoning.  You will also learn about the results from a recent study on the use and effectiveness of this argumentation intervention tool for science classes. 



"Project Based Learning in Chemistry"

By Michael Ralph and Carol Williamson, Master Teachers at University of Kansas Center for Teaching Excellence; and Amy Clement, Chemistry Teacher at Olathe North High School

Project based learning (PBL) in chemistry gives students an opportunity to learn chemistry because they have a need to know now rather than because they will need to know chemistry sometime in the future.  PBL provides context, authenticity, and sustained inquiry with a real world application of chemistry knowledge and skills.  The Next Generation Science Standards are designed for project based learning.  This session will share PBL project ideas and resources from UKanTeach alumni and other area teachers, and resources from research-based PBL initiatives.  Session participants will have the opportunity to share their PBL experiences and/or to start planning how to take a topic they currently teach and present it to their students with a PBL approach.