Education Technology

In Honor of National Chemistry Week, 5 “Organic” Ways to Incorporate TI Technology Into Chemistry Class

Posted 10/15/2021 by Stacy Thibodeaux, Chemistry Teacher

Did you know it’s National Chemistry Week October 17-23, 2021? A community-based program of the American Chemical Society (ACS), National Chemistry Week is a celebration among chemists, chemistry students and chemistry enthusiasts. To commemorate this special week in science, I’m sharing five of my favorite ways to incorporate TI technology into your chemistry classroom.

  1. Data collection
    The TI-Nspire™ CX or CX II graphing calculator is an amazing tool that can be used in partnership with a Vernier sensor or probe. The Vernier DataQuest™ App for TI-Nspire™ technology is built right into the calculator’s home screen. Students can collect real-world data, analyze that data and apply mathematical models to fit the data. The NGSS Science and Engineering Practices are addressed and so are the NCTM Mathematics Teaching Practices. It’s a win-win!

    A great activity to get started with data collection is Skills of Science: Celsius to Fahrenheit activity. Students use a Vernier EasyTemp® USB temperature sensor and a TI-Nspire™ CX II graphing calculator to collect temperature data, once in Celsius and once in Fahrenheit. If you have a TI-Nspire™ Lab Cradle you can plug in two Vernier BTA Temperature sensors and do a single run of data instead. Then, from the collected data, students apply mathematical linear modeling skills and the slope intercept formula to derive the formulas for converting between the two temperature scales. It is such a profound way to engage students in temperature scales, formula usage and conversion lessons, as well as real-time applications of mathematical modeling skills.
Two students using calculators and data collection sensors at a pond
  1. Visualization of data analysis
    The TI-Nspire™ CX Navigator™ System has changed my teaching practices, as well as the student-led conversations about the collected data. By using the TI-Nspire™ CX Navigator™ System, the students’ calculators are connected through a wireless adapter to the teacher’s computer. The TI-Nspire™ CX Navigator™ System can project the students’ screens. Imagine having eight groups of lab data and being able to project that data on the teacher computer screen and the board in the front of the room. Each group gets five minutes to argue with evidence (their data) about the activity/lab experience. Having the TI-Nspire™ CX Navigator™ System has allowed for richer, more meaningful conversations within the whole class because of the visualization of the data, thus the ability for the whole class to experience each group’s analysis. This has empowered more of my students to take ownership of their lab experiences and learning, as well as provide an opportunity for reflective thinking and learning in the science classroom. And, it has assisted those apprehensive learners by giving them a chance to become vocal learners each day.
  1. Simulations of tough-to-see concepts
    In chemistry, in order for students to have a full understanding of concepts, knowledge of both the molecular and symbolic views of those concepts must be achieved. Visualization of chemical reactions concepts on the molecular level can be tough for students to grasp. The Science Nspired site has amazing simulations that can be viewed and studied on the individual student’s calculator instead of only on the teacher computer/projector screen.

    One of my favorite simulations is the Light Me Up! activity. Ions in solution and dissociation of compounds are difficult concepts for students to master. This activity allows students to “see” the molecular as well as symbolic view of ionic and molecular compounds in the context of aqueous solutions and whether or not they “light up” a bulb. In-depth conversations about what makes a compound ionic versus molecular, what makes a light bulb turn on, as well as electrolytic solutions, are covered. Having the simulation in the students’ hands allows for more meaningful conversations, as well as in-depth coverage of these concepts that might have been challenging before this technology.
  1. Formative assessment
    Ongoing formative assessment is key to understanding how your students are progressing in a concept-unfolding lesson. The TI-Nspire™ CX Navigator™ System allows for teachers to have that technology available daily.

    Within the TI-Nspire™ CX Navigator™ System, teachers can use the TI-Nspire™ CX Premium Teacher Software to create predetermined questions and send a document to the students to determine their understanding of a lesson. On-the-fly questions can be sent to students using the Quick Poll option.

    I use the TI-Nspire™ CX Navigator™ System for my daily bell ringers/focus questions. Students know upon entering the classroom that the bell ringers are on their graphing calculators (sent through the TI-Nspire™ CX Navigator™ System), and they are to have them answered within the first five minutes of class.

    This review of concepts/skills covered in previous lessons allows me to determine if I can go on with the new content for the day, or I need to review. Real-time data of student progress is visible for me as a teacher, as well as anonymously (if desired) for students. A display of the wrong/right answers can be projected, and meaningful lesson-enriched conversations can be conducted. This may lead to student-generated data for whole class analysis and possible exit tickets for conclusion of a daily lesson.
Three students using calculators around a lab table
  1. STEM in your room
    TI-Innovator™ Hub with TI LaunchPad™ Board is a new addition to my classroom. I am currently developing lessons so my students can gain more STEM content and use the TI-Innovator™ Hub for these lessons. Last year, I had two lessons where I used the TI-Innovator™ Hub.

    During our chemical reactions lessons, students use the double-replacement reaction precipitates to create paints by mixing them with various media materials. The TI-Innovator™ Hub has a built-in RGB LED, and students learned how to program/code the TI-Innovator™ Hub to create the same colors as the precipitates that were created and thus used to paint with.

    A stduent using a calculator with the TI-Innovator Hub
    Another activity I did with my students was to use the built-in brightness sensor on the TI-Innovator™ Hub to teach students how to use the Engineering Design Process to build an apparatus to create a box and transform the brightness sensor to a colorimeter. Students used a standard solution of dyed water and Beer’s Law to determine the concentration of an unknown colored solution. The rich, meaningful conversations that were created because of this technology have opened the eyes of so many of my students to the possibility of future STEM careers.

Vernier DataQuest and Vernier EasyTemp are trademarks or registered trademarks of Vernier Software & Technology.

About the author: Stacy Thibodeaux is a T³™ National science instructor. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and chemistry and a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She currently teaches at Southside High School in Youngsville, Louisiana, where she teaches all levels of chemistry I, as well chemistry II, and most recently robotics. She uses TI technology to assist her teaching, data collection and modeling math concepts linking them to science content.