In-Class Demos in Large Lectures to Spark Student Engagement

Grab-n-Go Demos created by Dr. Gregory Jursich, Lecturer in the department of Chemistry

Objective:
The objective of this effort is not just to describe some class room demonstrations but to focus on student engagement with activities and inquiries. Here, “Grab-n-Go Demos” provide rather simple demonstration ideas for instructors requiring very little preparation or material costs so that proper emphasis can be on instructional objectives and student involvement – not complicated set-ups, procedures, or exotic materials.

Downloadable PDFs of each Grab-n-Go Demo are available below.

Context:

The descriptions given here are written with some occasional humor so beware. From my experiences, such humor is up-lifting in a day-to-day class room setting for both instructor and student alike and provides yet another conduit of teacher-student interaction as well as much needed stress-relief.
It cannot be over-stressed that science demonstrations enhance class room learning experiences in several important ways. It breaks away from the routine display of scientific information and offers alternate visual modes for students to see instructional concepts in action. It provides new avenues of teacher-student and student-student interactions along with exhibiting principles of science with materials in everyday life.

Instructional Challenge:

However, for instructors with large lecture classes who do not have dedicated staff for demonstrations, it is quite difficult to implement demonstrations in classes like chemistry where preparation, safe handling, and disposal of chemicals need to be carefully planned ahead of time. Realizing such instructors already have large time commitments in just managing large classes and providing instructional support for students, there is not sufficient time available for the proper preparation of “exciting” chemistry demonstrations involving vigorous reactions with large explosions or flashes of light. Indeed many interesting demonstrations of this type can be seen either as video, or well-documented procedures. However, without auxiliary personnel support, such demonstrations are not really feasible for instructors, nor should they even be attempted without proper planning, safety-auditing, and prior-to-class practicing of the procedures.

Many of the basic ideas of demonstrations I have learned from Lee Marek for whom I am very grateful for having worked with over several years. In most cases, I just tweaked these demonstrations in ways in which I like to present them and I encourage you to do the same.

Acknowledgements:

These “Grab-n-Go Demos” presented here use materials that are reusable each semester and so they can be stored away as small kits and then used again and again each semester.I would like to thank my student advisor, Nicole Szorc, for her invaluable comments from a student’s perspective, Kim Richards (Associate Director of the Center for the Advancement of Teaching-Learning Communities, TLC) for helping me flip my chemistry demonstration ideas to pedagogical class room activities and the Learning Technology Solutions (ACCC-LTS) team for designing the layout and appearance of the Grab n Go Demos. The humor is totally mine. No one else to blame for that.

 

Downloadable PDF versions of each Grab n Go Demo are available here:

https://uofi.box.com/s/b7di6lmp7w1pl88k4wmck8zgjw7dyfbh

 

Grab n Go Demo: Limiting and Excess Reactants : Conveying limiting and excess reactants with everyday objects

Grab n Go Demo: Electrochemical Cell: Illustrating principles and terminology of electrochemistry with a Galvanic cell

Grab n Go Demo: Electrolysis of water (needs be hyperlinked): Demonstrating electrolysis of a salt solution with a battery

Grab n Go Demo: Gas Density & Effusion: Using balloons to illustrate ideal gas law relations and kinetic theory of gases (a two lecture show and follow-up presentation)

Grab n Go Demo: Molarity of Solutions: Distinguishing molarity concentration and moles of solute in solutions

Grab n Go Demo: Electronic and Molecular Geometries Using VSEPR: Presenting molecular models along with simulation software to differentiate electronic and molecular geometries

Grab n Go Demo: Molecular Orbital Theory with Polyatomic Molecules: Displaying molecular models with s and p electron representations