Dr. Tom Tsu
Dr. Manos Chaniotakis
From the authors:
We hope you find A Natural Approach to Chemistry to be successful and engaging for your students. As we developed the program, we strived for clarity and completeness within the context of a practical and useful chemistry course for all students. We drew inspiration and example from the human body and from the environment to connect chemistry to students' lives, today and in their future. We pruned and trimmed to make room to cover key ideas in greater depth and in repeated contexts. For example, you will find fundamental ideals such as cleanse and molarity explained repeatedly over several chapters. In our experience, students need to see abstract but important ideas several times, in different contexts, before they truly learn them. After all, how many times did you parallel park before trying for your driver's test?
As teachers ourselves, we place a lot of emphasis on effective, hands-on activities that bring students to the core of important concepts, such as the chemical formula. We also know that students have many strongly held misconceptions, such as the confusion about the difference between heat and temperature. We asked ourselves: What are the most important concepts we students to understand and use? We then took the most effective and clearest learning path to develop an experimentally-validated understanding of each key concept. You will see some novel pedagogical approaches used in A Natural Approach to Chemistry, such as using molecular models to learn the chemical formula, or using 0 degree Celsius as a thermal energy reference. These techniques really work! Many traditional approaches, some which date from Lavoisier, we found too abstract for effective learning at the high school level. It is not that the concepts were above the student's ability, more that the traditional theoretical and academic approach could be improved upon given the importance of real chemical understanding in today's society. We designed the unique lab equipment to ensure that it will do what the curriculum needs it to do, reliably, an in a way that maximizes the student engagement and learning. In many ways the labs are the heart and soul of their course and we hope you make them a core part of your instruction as well.
Chemistry is a fascinating, beautiful, and extraordinarily important subject. Given the challenges of alternative energy, modified foods, new medicines, and environmental issues, we believe it is crucial that all thinking people have a basic understanding of chemistry. You will find a balance of deep conceptual treatment as well as rigorous but grade-appropriate quantitative problems and techniques.
We did not write this course just to prepare budding young chemists to succeed in college chemistry. While we do believe that engaging with A Natural Approach to Chemistry will inspire more students to do just that, our true goal was instead to provide a useful and practical foundation of understanding and appreciation of chemistry that will benefit your students throughout their lives and in any career that choose to pursue.