We are excited to share with you a series of blog posts written by some of our science authors at Wiley! Some of our textbook authors in chemistry and physics have written blog posts dedicated to exciting areas of science and real-world connections. Science is so much more relevant to our lives than we think – it doesn’t just happen in a lab or on a petri dish! In these blog posts, our authors share their passions and how they connect to science.
We hope that you find these posts interesting. Below is the link and first couple paragraphs of each blog. Click the title to read the whole article! Let us know in the comments which article was most interesting to you, and whether you recognize any of these names from your textbooks!
First, a Look at Films: Engaging Students in Organic Chemistry on the First Day of Class by Scott Snyder
Scott Snyder is a professor of chemistry at University of Chicago and is the author of Organic Chemistry 13th edition by Solomons, Fryhle, and Snyder.
Outside of my love for organic chemistry, one of my other passions is watching movies. In fact, I probably watch at least five movies a week—not always actively, sometimes just in the background as I do other things like cook dinner for my family. What’s sad to me, however, is that organic chemistry isn’t typically featured in most major motion pictures—perhaps because of misperceptions about what it really is and what it can do.
Fortunately, there are a few exceptions, and I try to incorporate those films into my classes, especially during my first class session of the quarter, to help convey to students what the field can really accomplish. Here’s how I approach it.
Craig Fryhle is chair and professor of chemistry at Pacific Lutheran University and is the author of Organic Chemistry 13th edition by Solomons, Fryhle, and Snyder.
Mountains and organic chemistry are two of my passions. Here in the Pacific Northwest, I get to combine these two loves. With every trip to the Cascade Mountains in Washington, I drink up the wonder of organic chemistry, as well the challenge and beauty of the summits. When I am hiking to the high peaks, I walk in awe of the sheer biomass that surrounds me in the ancient forests. Organic compounds are everywhere, from the polymer scaffolds of lignin and cellulose that make up the strong-as-steel structure of giant Douglas fir and cedar trees, to the soft and plush carpet of needles, bark, and other plant matter that pads my every step along the trail. I marvel at the countless tons of organic compounds that are over, around, and underneath me as I travel through the majestic forests.
Combining Cutting-edge Videos with Digital Assignments to Increase Motivation and Engagement Among Organic Chemistry Students by David Klein
David Klein is a senior lecturer at Johns Hopkins University and is the author of Organic Chemistry 4e by Klein.
Student motivation and engagement are critical for success when learning any subject, especially organic chemistry, which has a well-earned reputation for being intellectually demanding. As we all know, an organic chemistry course can be brilliantly laid out (great teacher, great lecture notes, great class, etc.), but the students nevertheless will not achieve subject mastery unless they are motivated to invest time outside of the classroom and engage with the subject matter (reviewing the material and, more importantly, practicing solving problems). While the lectures represent a critical component of any organic chemistry course, the reality is that lectures are only a small fraction of the total time investment necessary for students to succeed in the course. Indeed, students must invest more time studying outside of the classroom than they spend inside the classroom. And when practicing solving problems outside of the classroom, students must remain motivated and engaged whenever they encounter an obstacle (which happens frequently when solving organic chemistry problems). What can we do to support the students’ time investment outside of the classroom? What can we do to motivate students and keep them engaged outside of the classroom?
Melanie Good is a teaching assistant professor of physics at University of Pittsburgh and its a digital contributor to Fundamentals of Physics 12th edition by Halliday, Resnick, and Walker.
People often find it perplexing that my career path took me from the field of music to that of physics. In response, I used to mention Einstein’s passion for the violin to show that it isn’t contradictory to love both music and physics. But that example is starting to feel stale—though not because it’s losing its novelty. Everyone knows that Einstein was a physics genius, while most people don’t know about his musical talents. So, it would seem like the perfect example. But physics has an image problem, and after some reflection, I began to realize that using Einstein as an example unwittingly reinforces that image.
Since the study of physics is often thought of as a pursuit only for those with a genius-level intellect, immortalizing Einstein as the most popular icon of physics perpetuates the subject’s intimidating image and discounts the power of diligence, work, and practice, along with setbacks and failures, in ultimately achieving success in the field. Like music, physics requires training and ongoing practice and is never without mistakes made along the way.
Brad Trees is a professor of physics at Ohio Wesleyan University and is a digital contributor to Fundamentals of Physics by Halliday, Resnick, and Walker.
What prompted your interest in leveraging simulations in physics courses?
For some time, I’ve been interested in the use of simulations (sims) as a tool that can literally help students see the physics in action and, in so doing, can help instructors achieve the desired learning outcomes. This interest all started some time ago when a student approached me after class one day and mentioned a new function called Manipulate in Mathematica (the symbolic programming language by Wolfram Research). This command made it easy to program simple simulations.
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