Do you know that Chemistry is a frequently debated and discussed topic in the internationally renowned World Economic Forum? It seemed quite impossible to associate science and economy together, but together they form a great CHEMISTRY and strong BOND in the 21st century!
The chemical industry is indeed booming and this leads to a surge in demand for chemical engineers, biochemists, chemistry authors, and many careers related to the industry which includes, chemistry teachers!
The role of chemistry teachers is essential to provide a solid framework of the understanding of various elements, reactions and systems.
Is teaching Chemistry all about explosion and experiments?
If you are planning to teach Chemistry in the future, remember to instil the concept of viewing Chemistry as a comprehensive and diverse subject of studying materials and molecules among your students.
Having said that, the purpose of teaching Chemistry and other Science branch subjects is also to cultivate relevant scientific-related skills among students. It is important to know the WHY to every WHAT whenever a new knowledge is discovered.
a) The ability to make accurate OBSERVATIONS and INFERENCES for various chemical reactions
Let's begin with an experiment to test the displacement reaction of metal from the salt solution of another metal. The concept or takeaway that students will get out of this experiment is how a metal with higher electropositivity can displace a metal with lower electropositivity.
Students should be able to observe the changes in terms of colour change, whether a new solid is deposited, or whether the metal has any thickness change.
Examples of metals and metal salt solution used in this experiment: Zinc (Zn) and Copper (II) nitrate solution Cu(NO3)2.
After the Zinc plate is added into the test tube that contains the Copper (II) nitrate solution, students are to record one observation and inference.
Observation: The blue colour of the Copper (II) nitrate becomes paler.
Inference: There is a decrease in the concentration of Copper (II) ions in the solution.
b) Identifying and writing the right CHEMICAL FORMULA and EQUATION of the studied elements
Following the above experiment, students will then write out the chemical equation based on the reaction that took place. Here, you need to make sure your students can correctly identify the elements and the expected outcome of the experiment.
Elements involved: Zinc and Copper (II) nitrate solution
State of elements involved: Solid for Zinc (s) and Aqueous solution (aq) for Copper (II) nitrate
Oxidation happens for Zinc atom: Zinc releases electrons
Equation 1: Zn(s) >> Zn2+(aq) + 2e−
Reduction happens for Copper (II) ion: Copper receives electrons
Equation 2: Cu2+(aq) + 2e− >> Cu(s)
Final chemical equation: Zn(s) + Cu(NO3)2(aq) >> Zn(NO3)2 (aq) + Cu(s)
How to develop the "teaching chemistry" as a Chemistry tutor?
a) Forming a strong bond with your students
Before you teach your students about the various bonds in chemistry such as ionic bond and covalent bond, don't forget to form a close bond with them as the lesson progresses. This will enable the teaching and learning process for every session smoother, more interactive and effective.
Be sure to ask your students for feedback as it is super important to know how your students actually feel about the lessons, so that you are able to gauge their true progress.
Fun tip: You can also insert humour when you are teaching your students about some Chemistry facts as shown in the quote below about the neutron.
"A neutron walks into a bar and asks how much for a drink. The bartender replies, 'For you, no charge'." - Dr. Sheldon Cooper, 'The Big Bang Theory'
b) Having a comprehensive note and teaching summary at the end of every chapter
Coming out with summative mind maps or personalized notes based on chapters or similar themes is useful whether you are teaching life sciences like Biology or tutoring physical sciences such as Physics.
In the context of teaching Chemistry, you can do it based on dominant elements or certain groups in the Table of Periodic Elements. Let's say the chapter that you have just tutored your student is about the Carbon (C) element.
Then you can list down all the carbon compounds and group them according to their similarities and differences. For instance, the difference between alkane (saturated hydrocarbon organic compound), alkene (unsaturated hydrocarbon organic compound) and alcohol (non-hydrocarbon organic compound).
You can also map out the process of transformation between them. How alkane can transform to alkene? What is the process that occurs in between? The answer to the process is cracking. How would you describe cracking in a precise yet complete manner?
c) Making good use of glossary terms that are provided in the Chemistry textbooks
If you go through the past year or model papers of the SPM Chemistry subject, you should be able to tell that many questions revolve around specific terms and their definition.
Regardless of multiple-choice questions or short, structured questions, candidates can be asked to define a chemical process, formula or observation. For instance, students may be asked to choose the right definition of the process of cracking in Paper 1 that was mentioned in the previous point.
Sometimes, students may know the concept but find it difficult to string the relevant keywords in a simple and proper sentence. What you can do is create definition flashcards from the Glossary section of both the Form 4 and Form 5 Chemistry textbooks.
Here are two examples that you can refer to:
Cracking – The process whereby long-chain hydrocarbons are broken down into smaller molecules at high temperatures in the presence of a catalyst.
Esterification – The reaction of alcohol with carboxylic acid to produce ester and water.
Comparison between SPM Science and SPM Chemistry paper
Regardless of whether you intend to teach solely Chemistry or become a Science tutor that teaches all the branch Science subjects, it would be great to know some differences between the Science and Chemistry SPM papers.
a) SPM Science has 6 chapters for Chemistry compared to 13 chapters for SPM Chemistry
Form 4 Chemistry chapters for SPM Science
1. Elements and substances
2. Chemicals in Industry
3. Chemicals in Medicine and Health
Form 5 Chemistry chapters for SPM Science
1. Rate of Reaction
2. Carbon Compounds
b) SPM Science (1151) has 2 papers, whereas SPM Chemistry (4541) has 3 papers
For students who are taking all of the three Science subjects: Biology, Chemistry and Physics, they will undergo another test ,which is Paper 3, where they will need to conduct a lab experiment and write a scientific report. The total mark for Paper 3 is 15m.
For instance, in the context of SPM Chemistry Paper 3, students can be asked to conduct experiments that test different concentrations of hydrochloric acid.
The test will be conducted during normal schooling hours instead of a separate centralised assessment like Paper 1 and Paper 3.
As a tutor, you can assist your students by explaining the right methods to use the apparatus or how to come out with the right calculation using the right chemical formulas and equation.
c) Different mark allocation and format in terms of Paper 2
For SPM Science Paper 2 [80m]
Section A [20m]
Answer all from Question 1 to 4.
Section B [38m]
Answer all from Question 5 to 10.
Section C [22m]
Question 11 [10m]
Question 12 [12m]
Question 13 [12m]
Important note: It is COMPULSORY to answer question 11 and choose to answer only ONE question between Question 12 and 13. So, you can choose to answer either Question 11 and Question 12, or Question 11 and Question 13 for Section C.
For SPM Chemistry Paper 2 [100m]
Section A [60m]
Answer all from questions 1 to 8.
Section B [20m]
Answer ONE QUESTION from Question 9 and 10.
Section C [20m]
Answer question 11.
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