The Mol Project

I started teaching the concept of the mol (not the animal…the amount) in chemistry this week.  The problem is, the mol is such an impossibly large number to comprehend (6.02 x 10^23, or 602 sextillion, or 602 followed by 21 zeros) students often don’t grasp the quantity of things we are attempting to count.  So, I had them do a quick project on quantifying the number of things…anything…in a mol.  They had to relate one mol of an object to a concrete idea for people to visualize.  Many students just looked at the length of an object like a pen or a keyboard key.  Some others measured area, and still others measured volume.

For the project, they gave an example of a dozen, a gross (a dozen dozens), one million and one billion.  I got some great projects from this…better than I anticipated when I assigned it.  Below are some of the projects I had students turn in for the assignment.

Periodic Table of Cereals

Update 9/18/2012 – Unfortunately, the videos no longer work because the students closed their accounts. Feel free to use this Google Doc for the activity.

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about students putting together a periodic table of cereals for a project.  Well, the final drafts are in and I got some work this year that blew my mind.  Some of the best are shown below if you’re interested in browsing through some.

As an overview, students picked 25 cereals and then had to organize them in a comprehensive table.  It had to classify both rows (periods) and columns (groups) as well as 3 other properties of their choice.  Some students opted to use this as a test grade and were also required to submit a video answering some questions other students chose to write about.  Anyways, enjoy their work!

These are two of the videos that stood out amongst the rest.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzNsLoQYKP4]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_Pusa0xJZM]

Coming Up: Student Periodic Tables

Part of the mastery system is assessing students through their own, unique work.  For this next unit (beginning today) students have an opportunity to show me what they know through their own digital periodic tables based on…cereal.

While this isn’t true student-driven assessment, it’s a step in the right direction for my class.  I’m hoping to be able to do something like this for every unit…I’m just not there yet.  For this project, they have to do a lab in which they produce a periodic table based on different cereals.  They have the option to turn in a supplementary video to be used as their chapter assessment.  I’m really hoping I can get some of the more creative students to jump at this opportunity.  We’ll see in a week or two what I get.