The process of how to go about this was more about managing expectations and what was feasible. The first part was to pick a topic that I enjoyed, and since I love chemistry that was easy. Next came narrowing down the topic I wanted to work with. I wanted to choose a very visual topic, but also one that I think is critical to chemistry. Importance was the first part that I started with. I thought back to my entire undergrad and what were some themes that were in the beginning classes as well as the more advanced classes.
The first topic that came to mind was Acid-Base (Lewis Theory and Bronstead Theory). Understanding Acid-Base is critical to chemistry at all levels. Arguably the most important thing to understand in college courses. But while refreshing myself on the ins and outs of it I realized it was going to be very tough to conceptualize it into a meaningful visual. Next topic was VESPR theory. VESPR Theory met the criteria of both being very visual, as its the geometric spatial arrangements of atoms. Visual was a clear check. It’s important because bond angles in chemistry are important to understanding why energies are the way they are. But I didn’t think it would be feasible to do VESPR theory justice at this time. Time was the main factor in not choosing this.
What I decided on was the periodic table. But was only able to really hit on a fraction of what I originally laid out that I wanted to go over. I ended up settling on names of families (with some electron configuration sprinkled in), and three trends of the periodic table. I chose these because they met both criteria of importance and visual competency. The fun aspect of this assignment was that I just really dove into re-learning the periodic table but I also refreshed my memory on Acid-Base theories and VESPR theory.
For my annotated periodic table I really wanted to touch on something that I really think is lacking in chemistry instruction, and that is the visualization as to what elements actually look like. So I really wanted to make sure that I had some visuals of what certain elements look like in nature. Like plutonium. When I think of plutonium I think of The Simpsons glowing green rod (I think this is my like my 10th Simpsons reference this semester). But that is nowhere close to what it really looks like. It’s silver. I felt very constrained by the annotated picture though, so I really felt it necessary to create a second visual.
The second visual I created was one of those white board videos most of us have all seen and come to love. I came across that program of Animaker while researching animation tools I wanted to use to make a VESPR theory animation. I saw this program and knew instantly I wanted to use it. I tried making VESPR theory work for Animaker but it just wasn’t coming together. That was really when I decided to use the periodic table as I knew I could make that work effectively. But although I loved working with Animaker and I think visually it works amazing, I was deeply hampered by the fact the FREE portion was only a 2 minute video. If I covered everything I wanted to with the PT I would have needed at least a 10 minute video.
Where I think my visuals hit is that they are easy to use and aesthetically pleasing. Students that come across the youtube whiteboard video can pause it and digest what information is being given. Plus I was able to give a very brief real world analogy by pictures under the definition, even though they are rudimentary. The annotated picture also gives another aspect of real world look at elements. Gives the families, in an easy way. Where I think the two together missed the mark is that I felt forced to exclude explaining information. Taking the three trends for example I really wanted to dive into why these trends happen, but it was a time constraint by the program. That’s the insight as to why I chose what I did.
This assignment was probably one of, if not the most fun assignments I have ever had to do in any of my schooling. What I thought was interesting was that it was also the most time I spent on one single assignment in all of my schooling too. I got an opportunity to dive into three topics I hadn’t looked at much in the past. I hope the fun I had shows through with these visuals and that those viewing them enjoy them.