Author Archives: Mr E Turner

Playing the game

Let Battle Commence

My year 10s and I recently waved goodbye to their Core science exams for this year. After much celebration and relief we began to knuckle down to the year 11 topics which we were due to commence in the remaining days before they were to leave for work experience and, finally, the summer.

I was down to teach topic 1 of the Edexcel C2 syllabus during this period. For those who are not acquainted with this syllabus, the topic covers the ideas of atomic structure, electronic configuration and atom diagrams. It is my personal belief, which I’m sure others share also, that chemistry is much easier once the fundamental principles of atomic theory and organisation of the periodic table are second nature to the students. As such, I spent a fair bit of time covering this topic to ensure it was concreted into my students minds.

Teaching the periodic table and helping students understand it’s layout is so paramount to their understanding. However, teaching it can become a very monotonous and laborious task. Therefore,  I decided to tackle this in a more game like approach. I had gone over the ideas of the nucleus and it’s structure, and wanted students to apply this to the periodic table and generally familiarise themselves with it. So, we decided to play ‘Periodic Table Battle Ships’.

I simply printed off several copies of the Periodic table, two identical images placed one above another on a piece of A4 paper. Each student had one of these copies for themselves. These were to be turned into our battleship boards.

How To Play:

  • Students can place 3 ships: one 5 elements long, one 4 elements long and the final 3 elements long.
  • Ships can be placed vertically or horizontally on the top copy of the table
  • Students then take it in turns to ask questions about the elements to find where their opponents ships are placed.
  • I asked my class to ask questions based on the elements instead of saying “Is it on Sodium?” for example. I asked them to use atomic number, or atomic mass to identify elements. Sometimes, students took it a step further and asked based on the number of neutrons.

Exposing them to the table in this way gave them the chance to identify trends and patterns for themselves as they looked and posed questions.

There are many ways you could change this task. They could pose questions based on properties, first ionisation energy (for A-level), reactivity with certain substances, states at different temperatures. However and whatever you want your students to get from this task, it can be adapted.

Enjoy!

Hints for Sale

Learning Currency

I recently tweeted about an activity which I ran with one of my Year 10 groups and it was suggested that I shared the idea, so here goes.

I wanted the students to develop some independent inquiry skills during our lesson on the Periodic Table and its arrangement. It would have been easy enough for me to sit them down in the classroom and give them a well researched youtube video, some card sorts and a bunch of information to learn about Mendeleev, yet I decided against that.

I took the class to our rather wonderful E-Learning Centre which is a technological hub of the school with fantastic resources such as iPads, Macs, PCs, interactive whiteboard wall, cameras etc. One of our installed apps is called “The Elements” which you can find on the iTunes store. I wanted the students to try and work out how the periodic table was arranged from first principles. The app includes loads of excellent information about the elements but very little about the arrangement of the table.

I tasked the students with the challenge of creating a theory about how the periodic table was arranged. I split them into pairs who then gave themselves team names. Each team was given 10 points to start with during the lesson. The aim of the lesson was to explore the periodic table and construct a theory about its arrangement, the team who constructed the best written theory, with the most points remaining by the end of the lesson, won a prize.

There was a catch however. I had created five “Hints” on a powerpoint which were hyperlinked to some clues to guide their research. These hints came at a cost, two points apiece. The teams now had to decide was it worth researching independently without help, to establish a firm theory without spending points; or, could they risk spending a few points to get an even better theory which might mean they would still win, even though they had less points than they started with.

The result was a fast-paced, highly independent lesson where the teams battled it out against one another. Having spoken to the students after the lesson, they mentioned how much they had enjoyed it. The said how hard it was to decide whether or not to spend points to do better, or could they rely on their own analytical skills to develop their theories without help.

There are so many ways in which this lesson could be adapted to suit any topic in any subject. If you would like any resources, do let me know by dropping me a tweet. Enjoy!