Friday, February 18, 2011

Kids Can Learn Chemistry! Teaching Atomic Bonding

One of these days, I'm going to upgrade this blog and get spiffy tabs like the other uber-cool bloggers have.  But that would require time that I don't have, so for now I'm going to just throw everything in all together!

Therefore, I am now presenting. . . . . . . .

Khemistry for Kids 
(That's to annoy my brother, who has a profound hatred for signs with forced alliteration. . . .think 'Kountry Kitchen', and you're in the right ballpark!)

Do you remember your high school Chemistry class?  You know, the one that gave you cold sweats when you had to *gasp* balance equations?

Yeah.  Me too.  Actually, I liked my chemistry class - except for the part when my teacher told me I was "wasting my mind" by going into education (I was headed to college to be a music major).  Which is highly ironic since, the person uttering that statement was, after all, a teacher.  (Are you still out there, Mrs. Lipeles?)  It would be fairly interesting to hear what she would have to say now. . . . 

But I digress.  Anywho.

I am currently "wasting my mind" teaching science to a group of 14 homeschooled kids on Friday mornings.  They're such a fun bunch! Right now, we're working through a series entitled God's Design for Chemistry & Ecology - and we've hit the lesson on ionic and covalent bonding.  The basic lesson presented was good, but I decided to hunt around and see what else I could find.

Wow.  I love the internet.  Who knew there were such good lesson plans there?  The activities I'm about to explain came mainly from this site - but since they were geared for middle schoolers, I just adapted them a bit for my class.

First up - Ionic Bonding.  Here are Mr. Chlorine and Mr. Sodium!  

 It's a little hard to see from the picture, but they're wearing headbands (Ok, I bribed them with candy to wear them) with ping-pong ball "electrons" on them.  Mr. Sodium (Na) has 1 electron (valence electrons, for you science junkies out there) and Mr. Chlorine (Cl) has 7 electrons. 

Prior to this point, we had discussed valence electrons, and the tendency of the atoms to want a complete shell of electrons - in this case, Mr. Cl wants 8, and Mr. Na wants to get rid of his 1 lonely electron.  After this picture was taken, Mr. Na took off his electron and gave it to Mr. Cl.  Lots of hysterical laughter ensued. . . . but they got the point.  Electrons transferred?  Ionic bonding.  Ta-dah!

Next up - well, I knew I had to choose two girls for this one.  You'll see why in a minute.  (And yes, they were also bribed with candy.)

Here we have the incredibly cute Hydrogen sisters.  They started out with one electron each.  Their headbands only have 2 curly pipe cleaners on them so they each want to add an electron.

How do they solve their problem?  They share!  (Insert class, laughing hysterically here)  You can't see it quite so well, but yes, the girls are joined at the headbands with their electrons (each ping pong ball has two holes in it for just this purpose!)

Sharing electrons?  Covalent bonding.  Ta dah!
 See, now, that wasn't so painful, was it?

To further illustrate the concept, we turned to that ever so popular motivator of children.


Here is our friendly sodium atom.  Note the one valence electron - an orange skittle.

Next up, the Chlorine atom.  Note the 7 valence electrons.   Note also that I color coordinated them for the picture.  I'm good like that.
 Ready for some ionic bonding?  Here we go!
 As you can see, sodium has given its electron to chlorine.  Everybody's happy.

Including my students.  When I explained to them that this subject was difficult, and if they told their mothers about it, their mothers would say it was too hard to learn, I was met with disbelief. 

One of my more observant students quipped:  "That's because they didn't have Skittles when they were in high school!" 

Take that, Mrs. Lipeles.  Wasting my mind, indeed. 

1 comment:

Athena said...

I would have been happy with M&Ms!!!!!