JChemEd Activity Supports Student Understanding of Nomenclature and Compound Formation

By Kim Duncan on January 31, 2018

AACT members now have access to 25 ACS Publications articles each year. We are highlighting one article or activity each month that you might consider downloading through this member benefit. This month, we are featuring a hands-on student activity from the December 2008 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education titled Clip Clues: Discovering Chemical Formulas by Carmen Fies and Diana Mason.

Strong observational and reasoning skills are essential for a scientist to form a hypothesis about a new concept. This activity helps students improve their deductive reasoning skills by identifying unknown elements and compounds based on the bonds that they form.

Students are given three bags that each contain combinations of linked paperclips representing different compounds. There are six different colors of paperclips, and each color represents a specific element. There are also two different sizes of paperclips. The large ones represent metals and the small ones represent nonmetals. Students are also given two clues to help them deduce the identity of each type of paperclip. After identifying each element, they write the chemical formula and name for each compound. There are also follow-up questions for the students to answer.

This creative activity offers an easy method to give students the opportunity to learn about chemical bonding and nomenclature using inexpensive and readily available materials. The activity is easy to put together and can be used year after year.

AACT has several resources in our high school library to help with student understanding of compound formation and naming. They can be downloaded in the sidebar of this page. If you have a favorite ACS Publication article that you use in your classroom, please share it with us at AACTconnect@acs.org.