Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

New Teacher here, need help with inquiry-based curriculum

  1. Jun 25, 2011 #1
    Hi everyone,

    I'm Rob, and I'm coming on here because people on these forums seem to know their stuff. I just completed a 1 year student teaching program that has a high emphasis on inquiry-based instruction.

    A few days ago I thought of an idea for a curriculum that might help foster the kids ideas, while getting them interested in the content.

    What if I used commercials in the classroom, have the kids look for things in chemistry in the commercials, and use that information to develop lessons on content from the standard curriculum?

    Ex: I saw a commercial the other day for some kind of laundry detergent. It says twice as concentrated...some thing like that. Anyway, this would be a great way to start a lesson on concentration and molarity.

    So what I'm looking for now though are two things:

    what are the major topics in chemistry if you had to reduce them to 6 or 7 different things (which would then be developed into units)


    for more difficult topics for this to occur, possibly atomic theory, bonding, and quantum: does anyone have any ideas that might help?

    I would love any feedback, whether this is coming from students, teachers, or just people that want to comment.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 25, 2011 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Well, I think the example you cited has value, and you might also ask kids to look for examples where companies make claims involving the chemistry of their products, and bring them to class to discuss. However, I would stop short of actually showing commercials in the classroom, and I would do my best to keep product branding information as vague as possible. So rather than saying "I saw a Exxon-Mobil commercial last night,", you might say "I saw a commercial for motor-oil last night". It would also be interesting to add an experimental dimension to it as well, by developing tests that your students can run on products to test advertising claims. Again, you need to do this as anonymously as possible with respect to the actual products you are testing ... the focus of the teaching should be around the chemistry and basic science, with the rest of it just "added flavor" to capture and hold the students' attention.

    As for the course development, I would recommend getting your hands on a general chemistry textbook, and starting from there. Note I am not suggesting that you necessarily "teach to the text", although that can be helpful the first time or two throught the material, just to avoid getting lost. What I am saying is that the organization of the important ideas about chemistry is something many experts have spent a lot of time on, so you should harness that. I would recommend that you find a book that keeps the number of concepts small, but investigates them each one in depth. A deep understanding of a few fundamental concepts will ultimately serve your students better than covering a broader range of topics in less depth.
  4. Jun 25, 2011 #3


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    While you may get some answers here (after all our members know a little bit of everything), you should post your question at CHEMED-L mailing list - it is a pretty good place for educators, teachers, wannabe teachers and people just interested in teaching chemistry. People there will be probably able to guide to already existing resources.

    CHEMED-L just moved from their old uwf.edu mailer to googlegroups, see status here: http://bbruner.org/chemed.htm [Broken]

    Edit: I haven't seen SpectraCat post before submitting my own.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  5. Jun 25, 2011 #4
    thanks for the posts,

    i think just because i'm not necessarily teaching to the text, does not mean i will not be using a text to supplement material. the entire concept of the inquiry is to stimulate student interest in a topic. this interest can then lead to going into mini lessons which will at times require a text. i would like the students to construct the abstract knowledge of chemistry into something they could contextualize in something they are familiar with. that is the entire drive behind this approach. i am not substituting commercials for textbooks.

    thanks for that other resource, i will post on there as well.

Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook