The Power of ICT

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ICT or information and communication technology covers any communication device or application including radio, television, computer, smartphones, etc. They have many uses in business, education, entertainment, medicine, mathematics, and government.

ICT platforms are programmed. If it is not programmed, then it is not a platform. In this infographic, the 3 reasons why you should use an ICT platform, along with their examples, are shown. In this modern times, it is helpful to use ICT in whatever we are doing. They enable us to do things beyond what we are capable of. The output is up to your imagination and the capabilities of the platform.

 

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A Student’s Take on Student-Led Conference

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SLC or Student-Led Conference is an alternative form of PTC wherein the students are the ones discussing their progress, strengths, weaknesses, and goals. The activity may consist of discussions of the portfolio, strengths and weaknesses, and report card – all done by the students. SSIS Malarayat has recently been implementing SLC from grade 5 to grade 12. Given the context of the problem, I believe that SLC is effective because it supplements and furthers student learning. The program does this through the distinct features and opportunities that it provides, which will be explained in the next paragraphs.

Opposing my stand, most high school students state that there is no point in doing SLC if PTC, the traditional form of card giving, was already existing. Adding to that, they see it as a waste of time. SSIS Malarayat has been doing PTC for the majority of its existence, and parents are usually the only ones involved together with the teacher.

Based on their experience, students also find it awkward to talk about their performance or grades to their parents – especially if they get bad grades. It is a nerve-wracking experience to explain one’s experience in school when the teacher could just easily explain it in a regular PTC.

I do not agree with the first claim because the number of years does not directly translate to a better program and further learning for the students. Furthermore, institutions would not be able to explore other methods that would supplement and further student learning if they just followed the conventional way.

I also stand firm against the second claim because students should learn to have confidence and take responsibility for their grades in school. SLC is not something to be scared of because it is meant to improve them. Through the SLC, showing parents that one is aware of the problem and that one wants to improve will help a student set the challenge of learning. It will also help the parents identify actions that they can do to supplement and further learning of their child.

What makes SLC different from PTC is that it finally integrates students into the giving of report cards and evaluation of performance. It is an activity that aims to create insights from the perspective of the students.

First, reflection is an integral part of the learning process. As John Dewey once said, “We don’t learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience.” In class, we make reflections in our blogs in order to make sense of what we experienced inside and outside the classroom. We make sure that we don’t just experience things, but we also reflect on them. According to the book “Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind” by Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick, reflecting means applying what we’ve learned to contexts beyond the original situations in which we learned something. An experience would be useless without linking them to other experiences, and this is where the SLC comes to play. It provides a platform for students to link the grades that they got to the experiences they had, in turn, supplementing and furthering their learning.

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Educational Reflection | http://behindtheglass.org/educational-reflection/

Second, relaying the message through another person, also called communication triangulation, may disrupt the intended message of the teacher, preventing reflection and learning. An example is the game “Pass the Message”. The end result is always different from the original message because it passed through different people, instead of from the messenger to the intended receiver. In a series of posts by Linkage Inc.’s Mark Hannum, triangulation can result in many problems that were not intended. First, it can change the original message. Second, the mediating person may not share the message at all. Lastly, the message may be shared with people outside the intended recipients. In SLC, communication triangulation is prevented because the intended message of the teacher is directly relayed to the student. Parents do not need to take note of what the teacher will say because the students are present at the conference. Whatever ideas or suggestions the teacher has to improve a student’s learning will be conveyed directly to the intended recipient, the student. The boundary to supplement and further learning is removed when the student is involved in card-giving.

Third, collaborating with the parent and teacher, insights from the SLC can help a student identify steps that he can do to improve his learning. In this activity, teachers can suggest interventions like tutoring and counseling to help a student improve his learning. In a meta-analysis done by Peter Cohen, James Kulik, and Chen-Lin Kulik in “Educational Outcomes of Tutoring: A Meta-analysis of Findings”, it was discovered that 65 independent evaluations of school tutoring programs resulted to positive effects on the academic performance and attitudes of those who were tutored, thus proving the benefits of tutoring. In addition, a synthesis by Border and Drury entitled “Comprehensive School Counseling Programs: A Review for Policymakers and Practitioners” discovered the substantial impact of counseling on educational development. This study identified the relationship between counseling and learning.  SLC provides a platform to give a student options on how he can improve his learning. Upon the guidance of his teacher and parents, SLC gives him a decision to pursue proven interventions that will help in learning.

I believe that SLC is effective because it supplements and furthers student learning. It serves as a personal reflection for the students, paving the way to learning from experience. It makes sure that the message of the teacher is clearly sent without any changes. Lastly, through collaboration, SLC provides options for students who want to improve their learning.

SLC should be continuously implemented to supplement and further student learning. Considering the counterclaims, it should be given more time of implementation, so that the people involved – parents, teachers, and students – will be more used to it. In addition, parents should be briefed prior to the conference. They must be reminded not to pressure their child/children with grades so that students will not feel awkward and scared during SLC. It must be established that the program is meant to improve learning with the involvement of the students themselves.

 

 

The Duality of Chemistry

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The dangers of duality | photo credits: Tantrik Studies

Chemistry is two-sided. It can be beneficial or dangerous. Just like most endeavors, there is duality in this field.

I remember watching Breaking Bad, a TV series about Walter White, a Chemistry teacher turned drug dealer due to financial instabilities and a spreading lung cancer. In one of his class, he explains exothermic and endothermic reactions. He explains that these reactions can be spontaneous, like the explosions one usually sees in the movies. At the moment, he realizes that he can exploit this Chemistry concept. After dismissal, he meets up with a crazy drug lord. The psychopath won’t give the payment and threatened to kill Walter if the latter doesn’t give the drug. As Walter is about to give the “drug”, he throws it into the ground. It was mercury fulminate, a highly-reactive explosive. It exploded spontaneously, shattering the glasses of the setting and scaring the troop of the drug lord. Walter exits the building, carrying his bounty. Everyone was scared to pull a trigger. It was definitely a savage scene, but it’s an example of how chemistry can be used for evil.

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Chemistry can also be a positive tool for humanity. Pharmacists use titration to achieve the desired mix in medicines. In the food industry, the process is employed to test for the concentration of vitamin C or E, and it is used in wine and cheese production to test the product’s readiness for consumption. Titration is used in the production of biodiesel in testing one of its primary ingredients, waste vegetable oil. In addition, it ensures the survival of marine life by testing aquarium water (Callahan, 2017).

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Chemistry can be both a force for good and evil. Always use it for the benefit of humanity because it can solve a lot of big problems in the world. From fighting diseases to paving the way for nanotechnology, it can change how we live.

Below are infographics about Exothermic vs. Endothermic Reactions and Titration, concepts that were mentioned in the previous paragraphs.

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References:

Callahan, R. (2017). Real life uses of titration. Retrieved from https://healthfully.com/real-life-uses-titration-5968981.html on February 10, 2018.

Change is Coming

The world is constantly changing.

A course in History would make you realize how societies have changed. Empires come and go as countries fight wars. The environment changes as human development occurs. Earth and Life Science, on the other hand, will make you realize that the Earth underwent change, is changing, and will change in the years coming. From a planet of hot gases and violent conditions to the home where we live in now today, Earth has come a long way. Even Biology would talk about change. Life forms have evolved in a process called natural selection. As time passed by, organisms have passed on favorable and adaptive traits to their offspring.

This holds true for Chemistry. Chemical changes happen, and it is all because of energy. We can’t see energy, but we can sense and measure its effect when it has been transferred between a system and its surroundings. This is the same energy that is present when we form or break bonds between molecules.

A chemical reaction that gives off light, heat or sound is called an exothermic reaction. In this reaction, heat is lost to the environment, and the temperature of the surroundings rises. An example is the formation of bonds, which gives off heat. It is signified by a negative enthalpy, the total heat content of a system. On the other hand, a reaction that takes heat energy from its surroundings is called an endothermic reaction. It causes the temperature of the environment to drop. Energy is supplied when we break bonds. It is denoted by a positive enthalpy.

As part of our course in General Chemistry II, we conducted an activity on Chemical Energetics, the study of chemical changes caused by energy. We were given the procedures, and the challenge is to identify each reaction as endothermic or exothermic. The following are the reactions we did and their corresponding energy level diagrams:

 

dilute hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide1

The initial temperature reading is 19 degrees C while the final is 20 degrees C. The reaction is exothermic.

 

zinc dust and dilute hydrochloric acid

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The initial temperature reading is 21 degrees C while the final is 22 degrees C. The reaction is exothermic.

 

barium chloride and water

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The initial temperature reading is 25 degrees C while the final is 22.5 degrees C. The reaction is endothermic.

 

ammonium chloride and water

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The initial temperature reading is 25 degrees C while the final is 24.5 degrees C. The reaction is endothermic.

 

sodium hydroxide and water

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The initial temperature reading is 25.5 degrees C while the final is 26.5 degrees C. The reaction is exothermic.

 

magnesium sulfate and water

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The initial temperature reading is 14 degrees C while the final is 15 degrees C. The reaction is exothermic.

 

potassium dichromate and ethanol

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The initial temperature reading is 20 degrees C while the final is 23.5 degrees C. The reaction is exothermic.

 

anhydrous copper sulfate and water

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The initial temperature reading is 34.5 degrees C while the final is 32.5 degrees C. The reaction is endothermic.

 

When the temperature from the initial reading to the final reading increases, the reaction is exothermic. The increase in temperature is caused by the heat released to the environment. The products have less energy than the reactants, so ∆H is negative. When the temperature from the initial reading to the final reading decreases, the reaction is endothermic. The decrease in temperature is caused by the heat absorbed from the environment. The products have more energy than the reactants, so ∆H is positive.

This is our last laboratory activity of General Chemistry II, so it was memorable. Through the months, I’ve seen how my laboratory peers have grown from clueless beginners to resourceful scientists. They became so independent that they can easily identify which materials to use given just the procedures. Collaboration also played an important part in the completion of lab activities. Everyone performed their roles in order to contribute to the success of their respective groups. In addition, friendly competitions happened during discussions. Every answer was a pressure and every point mattered.

I learned to be curious with whatever is happening inside the laboratory. I may not be able to help in lab procedures, but it became my habit to question something bizarre and try to answer it. It is not enough to identify the unusual. We must try to find out what causes it. The beauty of chemistry is trying to find out the answer to something by actually trying it out many times. Finding the answer after several trial-and-errors makes it all the more worth it.

When we encounter lab works in the future, we won’t be lost since we already understand the functions of lab tools and techniques. We would look back and reflect on our days in General Chemistry. Times may change, but the memories are there forever.

The Qualitative Side of Things

“I did not think; I investigated.” -Wilhelm Röntgen

If you have attended a Chemistry class or encountered Chemistry on the Internet, you may have come across some formulas and equations. You might notice that it is similar to Mathematics. The variables are the elements. The equal sign, like in Math, signifies that the left and right sides are equal, and in the case of reactions, both sides are balanced. Like the thousands of formulas in Algebra or Calculus, there are a lot of formulas to discover in Chemistry. Consequently, being a student entails devoting thousands of hours to solving unknowns in Chemistry. It might seem repetitive, but there is more to the discipline than that.

Chemistry is not just about the formulas, variables, and numbers. It is not strictly about solving with a pen and calculator. It is not exclusive to a quantitative paradigm. Like research, it can be quantitative or qualitative.

In order to discover concepts in Chemistry, we can use our five senses. These senses allow us to describe the characteristics of the chemical or matter we are dealing with. This descriptive information is hard to find by just solving or using a calculator. Qualitative analysis enables us to investigate Chemistry concepts.

Perhaps investigating qualitatively gives a thrill to Chemistry. It challenges us to use our senses to understand phenomena around us. It is a skill that we can apply when we go to the outside world. I believe that finding out concepts through personal immersion is a whole different experience from studying the course in a textbook or watching an experiment on YouTube. This is not to downplay the essence of the quantitative side of Chemistry. The two works together in order to give us a deeper understanding of the concepts of Chemistry. Without the other, one would be vague.

Below are three of the activities (in PDF form) we did in which we used qualitative testing, along with the documentation of the laboratory works.

Chem2 12 – Gases Infographic

Chem2 12 – Cations vs Anions Infographic

Chem2 12 – Reactivity Series Infographic

 

The Strange World of the Very Small: A Photo Essay

 

Everything is Made Up of Atoms: Living or non-living things, gargantuan or minute, ordinary or mysterious, everything in this world is made up of atoms, the smallest unit of matter.

Specialized Cell Interiors: The cell is capable of function because of the organelles or small organs in its interiors. Every organelle has its own job.

Early Earth: In the past, the Earth was entirely different. It had violent volcanoes and catastrophic weather conditions. The atmosphere was different. No living thing existed. Early Earth went through a lot before it became the Earth that we know now and live in.

Organic Molecule: The different colors represent Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen and Sulfur. The five are elements that make up living things. Carbon, especially, is the backbone of life.

Volvox: This strange-looking creature is an algae that was first discovered by Anton van Leeuwenhoek, the man who went on to develop the microscope. It has a flagella or whip-like structure for movement.

What struck me the most is the concept “Everything is Made Up of Atoms”. We always marvel at gigantic infrastructures and bigger-than-life sceneries that we forget to appreciate the tiny building blocks that make them: atoms. Atoms are the smallest unit of matter, and they cannot be seen with the naked eye. They behave in different ways, and believe it or not, they always vibrate. All the things around us would not exist without these tiny atoms.

Looking at the exhibit’s large chocolate made me realize that size is a matter of perspective. Its atom figures looked big in the museum, but in reality, it is really tiny to the point that it is hard to visualize them in an actual chocolate. The characteristics of solids is evident when you interact with a chocolate, which is also solid. Understanding chemistry concepts is a way to understand things that can’t be understood by just seeing.

Try and Try!

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Doing laboratory activities is one thing. An inquiry-based task is another.

In laboratory activities, we are given the list of materials and reagents that we need. A procedure is also given, so the main challenge is to strictly abide by it. Before the actual activity, we are required to write a pre-lab journal about the activity, so we are briefed about what we will do. In the actual experiment, the needed lab tools are prepared, and we just need to know which ones to use based on the procedure. Then, we are given two days to write about our findings and realizations. In short, laboratory activities are mainly governed by the scientific method, a systematic way of investigating phenomena.

An IBT or inquiry-based task is entirely different. We are given a question or challenge, and it is up to us to find the answers. We are given only the materials and the ultimate end goal. To find the answers, one must be creative and knowledgeable of the concepts involved. The last IBT is about the Gas Laws, so we should be familiar with the relationships of gas properties. Activities included transferring an egg inside a flask without physical force, making a coin move on top of a bottle, and karate chopping a wooden stick. Its unpredictable nature is what makes it challenging. You can never know if it works unless you try it. Knowing the concepts is a plus, and actually trying ideas is the icing on the cake.

Being in a group is definitely an advantage. The different ideas from each member mean that there is a higher possibility of getting the solution. At the same time, more challenges can be done through teamwork. In our group, some did the actual testing while others prepared the set-up for another challenge. It felt like a time-trial, competitive, and team-based game. It was like an Amazing Race.

For me, following procedures is good, but it gets dull when it’s often done. Sometimes, we just have to break free from a system and release our inner creativity and knowledge. Ready, get set, go, and try and try!

 

 

Lab Full of Tools

From the discovery of fire, first look at microorganisms, to the emergence of smartphones, scientific discoveries and breakthroughs have always been amazing. They have shaped up how we perceive the world and answered some of the curiosities we had. They defined history and affected humanity in different ways.

In a day, you’ll probably see the fire that cooks your food or the fire in a candle during a brownout. In your biology class, you will study about the tiny things that live among us, microorganisms, which others believe as our ancestors. Then, you will open up your Apple or Android device to check on the latest news or stalk your crush. Indeed, humanity’s discoveries revolve around our lives in so many ways.

However, we are often concerned with the end-product that we often overlook the tools needed to discover or invent them. Rocks were rubbed against each other to make fire. The microscope was first invented before microorganisms were seen. Even the smartphone in your hand or pocket is made up and made with simple tools and machines, combined together to create a complex machine. The most basic of them all, the tools, contribute to the greatest discoveries of mankind.

This holds true for a scientist. His laboratory tools aid him in yielding accurate results he aims for. These tools help him in making complex equations or proving a theory – even disproving one. He spends hours, even years, in his dungeon called the laboratory and plays with his weapons, laboratory tools. We often look at the equation or a concept without knowing how it was derived or what its set-up was. Lab tools help scientists him in arriving, sometimes accidentally, at their main goal. Without these lab tools, there would be no scientist.

Below are infographics about 5 common laboratory tools: triple beam balance, stirring rod, pipet, aspirator, and Bunsen burner. A process called annealing is also posted.

A Whole New Task

We were always the participants in competitions and games, but this time, we were tasked to organize one. Trust me, if the road to winning in a contest is hard, then organizing a contest is harder.

Our project is to come up with a sports event where our schoolmates and teachers will be the participants. Our class decided to have two sports: frisbee and basketball, so we were divided. The plan was actually easy. Katya, our leader, assigned each one of us a role, and we discussed the rules, awards, schedule, and requirements of our sport with others.

Managing the sports event happened a week before term test, so the easily-looking task became accompanied with Performance Tasks from other subjects. Personally, there was a point when I was confused which one to do first. As part of the basketball group, I was tasked to make the poster and certificates, which I thought was easy. In doing it, I realized that it’s hard because I had to know the important details of the event – which I forgot to ask – and I needed to edit a lot of copies, which was tiring. At the same time, three of my groupmates had to leave at times because they had to catch up to their missed studies; I needed to help in the schedule and details of the event.

Communication was partly to blame. If I reminded my groupmates to do the requirements earlier while we were still free, then we could have been less stressed. I also did not do what I could have done the week before, so I rushed my responsibilities in order to accomplish the others.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend the games on the first day. From what my groupmates shared, they had difficulties in finding the players. Again, we lacked communication. However, they bounced back as they were able to finish almost all the games.

On the second day, all went well except for a slight delay in the start of the games. I can see that the participants really showed competitiveness in the competition, and they revealed a lot of emotions. At the same time, the referees were attentive and unbiased.

The basketball games ended, so we went to the soccer field to check on the frisbee group. The kids were enjoying, and it was thrilling to see the teachers being taught how to play. We felt like we were the teachers. They spent a good hour or two playing exhibition games with the students.

I still think that the sports event, as a whole, was a success. Though there were flaws, we tried the best we could to make it happen. At the same time, it was a learning experience for us, Grade 11. Being the organizers instead of the players gave us a new perspective. In the end, everyone enjoyed and showed their competitive side.

 

 

More Than Esters

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photo by: wiseGEEK

I learned about the process of Fischer esterification, where a mixture of carboxylic acid and alcohol is heated to create water and esters of different scents. The process is in equilibrium, and esters can go back to its reactant state after a short amount of time. Boiling would signify that an ester has been produced.

I learned that esterification can create scents of fruits. Esters are being utilized by many manufacturers in the production of perfumes, solvents, and preservatives.

On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest, I would give the overall performance of my group a 6. Each of us did our roles; I recorded the data, Paolo prepared and washed the materials, Mikkel performed the experiment, and Sofia assisted Mikkel. We failed the first experiment and determinedly repeated it for the second time. However, we were not efficient with the time given to us. We overlooked the importance of using a sturdy Pyrex glass in heating; two of our beakers broke. In our second experiment, we solved it by using a boiler. We also did not collect all materials required in the beginning; we panicked when we can’t find a needed ingredient or material. As a whole, we only tested two acids. We could have done all acids and tested the products’ pH if we were efficient.

In the future, I will remind my group mates to gather all the materials needed at the beginning of the experiment in order to save time. I will also consider the conditions of the experiment in order to use the more appropriate and safer apparatus or material. When our beakers shattered, I panicked; as advised by Sir Benny, I will stay calm in future experiments.