A DVD review

The New Chem Source v. 3.0

Ad for ChemSource software.An instructional resource for preservice and inservice chemistry teachers. The 4 DVD set includes ChemSource SourceBook v. 3.0, SourceView and User Guide v. 3.0 and GuideBook.  US$59.95. More details are available at: http://www.chemsource.info/default.html

What are the essential elements of a useful high school teacher’s chemistry resource? Most experienced teachers would say: it should be easy to follow, provide new ideas and be well organized. A teacher should also be able to pick short activities from the resource to enhance or rejuvenate classroom practice. This resource has all these elements.

As an Additional Qualification* instructor at the University of Toronto, I used the original version of this resource, called the SourceBook v. 1.0. It has been a great resource for beginning science teacher candidates looking for content and activities for presentation on chemistry concepts they will need to become reacquainted with as an instructor. The step-by-step guided approach to the written resources can help new science teachers get comfortable with the material, along with presenting interesting demonstrations and student-centered inquiry activities.

For the experienced chemistry teacher, in addition to rich explanations about activities commonly found in several resources, many ideas from the SourceBook provide new insight or new twists on old topics. For example, if you are looking for a complete resource on a less traditional type of gas lab, search in the SourceBook v. 3.0 PDF files under “GAS” and one of the labs you will find is “Analyzing the Pop in Popcorn”, a well-organized lab that challenges students to determine the pressure inside a kernel of popcorn using the Ideal Gas Law. Students can also calculate the percent water in popcorn. The lab includes a full description, materials, answers to prelab questions and analysis questions.

If you are looking for something new on any topic you currently teach, I would recommend the SourceBook. Most of the collection of 52 PDF files relate directly to chemistry curriculum content. Several extension topics provide useful applications, such as food in chemistry and the chemistry of rocks, minerals and gems. The files also contain updated weblinks to a variety of other resources. The activities, puzzles and content have not changed much from the original version published in 1994 and yet the material is still relevant with lots of activities rarely found elsewhere.

*Additional Qualification courses are designed for Ontario teachers with more than five-years of experience. Course completion is listed on a teacher’s certificate.