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Educating Excimer: Room to fail

Posted on behalf of Aaron Finke Chemistry lab courses should focus more on method and problem-solving rather than specific techniques, with room for students to “fail” so they can learn from their mistakes. The best approach is to use open-ended experiments that require students to formulate conclusions other than “it worked” or “it didn’t work.” However, these experiments usually require a significant time commitment on the instructors’ part, and so these kinds of experiments are usually only found in labs for chemistry majors with small student enrollments. My undergrad’s senior capstone project for chemistry majors is a particularly good example  … Read more

Educating Excimer: The End of the ‘Cookbook’ Lab

[Joining The Sceptical Chymist is our latest guest blogger, Aaron Finke. A grad student at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, he works on polyphenylene dendrimers and hyperbranched polymers. You may know Aaron better as Excimer from his posts at Carbon-Based Curiosities.]  … Read more

Sugar Daddy: Not so boron after all

Posted on behalf of Sugar Daddy With the changing of the guard in Washington, late-night night television hasn’t quite been the same. I guess the new guy in charge is a harder target for comics. Anyway, to a certain extent, the late-night hosts have been turning their attention elsewhere, and eventually chemistry was bound to make it. In this clip, Conan O’Brien draws attention to, among other things, the discovery of a fourth form of pure elemental boron. The humor in the clip originates from a recent New York Times article that had mistakenly counted the number of pure forms  … Read more