Just a bit about Atomsmith's teaching philosophy in relation to "standards." Chemistry is a challenging topic. Chemistry standards (by state/nationally/internationally) are inconsistent and all over the board. The bottom line: We believe that if students have a deeper understanding of the key basic building blocks that comprise chemistry (including a visual understanding of what is happening at the molecular level) in conjunction with a clear understanding of what is meant by "the scientific method":
- They will find chemistry more interesting and develop more confidence in their abilities
- They will take an additional chemistry (or other science) class
- They will be better prepared to take on the more difficult topics in their future science learning
- We will have more scientists in the world and we will have a society bettered prepared to make informed decisions regarding such critical topics as immunizations and treatments for disease, nutritional and pharmaceutical claims, chemical and fossil fuel usage, renewable and biodegradable materials, food production and safety, water quality, the functional advantages of new technologies, etc.
In addition, with Atomsmith's curriculum, we suggest that students demonstrate progress through journaling exercises -- progressive journal entries reflecting iterative learning. Our philosophy is that multiple-choice assessments just don't demonstrate real learning, and rather than measuring student progress in a reductive manner (How many did you get wrong on a worksheet?), there should be rewards for increments of learning demonstrated through enlightened reflection (i.e. journaling -- written explanations with supportive drawings). To develop student confidence and interest, topics as complicated as those in chemistry require hands-on experience and daily iterative demonstrations of progress. Then understanding grows.
Chemistry is like music, math and many other subjects – it's its own language of words and symbols – and we believe that understanding chemistry is to other science subjects as Latin is to English: It's the root. Unfortunately, too few individuals today can speak the language.
To quote Linus Pauling, Nobel Laureate in chemistry, from a 1983 UC Berkeley lecture:
Chemistry is wonderful! I feel sorry for people who don't know anything about chemistry. They are missing an important source of happiness -- that of satisfying one's intellectual curiosity.
The world is wonderful. Chemistry is an important part of it. Let's get more students thinking that!