Teaching

Another Exercise In Mind Reading

April 17, 2013

Here’s another great example of how one reagent used in a certain context performs one thing, and in a different context performs a completely different task. These are the types of inconsistencies which lead students to find organic chemistry difficult, and in many cases to mistakenly believe that it is arbitrary. It is not. First […]

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Three Years

Three Years

February 18, 2013

Today is MOC’s third blogaversary. It’s a common saying in academia that nobody teaches you how to teach. It’s something you learn on the job.  As a Ph.D. organic chemist accustomed to speaking to other Ph.D organic chemists, there were a lot of finer details of learning organic chemistry that I did not appreciate when […]

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Now Available: The Organic Reactions Flashcard App for iPhone

Now Available: The Organic Reactions Flashcard App for iPhone

February 14, 2013

Today, in partnership with Rich Apodaca of Metamolecular, I’m happy to announce the release of a new app for the Apple iOs: Organic Reaction Flashcards for iPhone.   It should come as no surprise that one of the greatest difficulties students have in learning organic chemistry is in keeping track of all the reactions. That’s […]

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Khan Academy Gets Serious About Organic Chemistry

February 5, 2013

Readers might recall that a few months ago I went through and summarized all 73 of the Khan Academy organic chemistry videos. Going back to the KA site two weeks ago I was surprised to note that  big changes have been effected on their organic chemistry home page.  The organization of the main page has changed […]

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Putting Acidity In Perspective

Putting Acidity In Perspective

January 25, 2013

[Source: xkcd  hat tip to Mike Evans @mevans86 for finding this] One concept that always seems to have a hard time getting through is that of pKa. No matter how many times I nag students to “know their pKas” or tell them that the “pKa table is your friend” or compare it to a table […]

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My biggest failure of 2012

My biggest failure of 2012

January 9, 2013

Happy New Year! The title of this post is actually a misnomer. My biggest failure of 2012 was in not being able to win even a single game at our annual pond curling tournament in Muskoka. Since I am still not mentally prepared to talk about this disaster, I am going to talk about my […]

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Why Organic Chemistry Made Me Feel Dumb

Why Organic Chemistry Made Me Feel Dumb

December 5, 2012

Today I’ll share with you one thing about organic chemistry that made me feel really, really dumb when I took it. And looking back, I didn’t need to. So if it helps at least one person feel less dumb, that’s a win for me. When I first took ochem, I was well-accustomed to the style […]

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Khan Academy Videos for Organic Chemistry, Part 6

October 30, 2012

In this post (the 6th of 6) we finish up going through all the Khan Academy videos for organic chemistry [videos 65-73]. For previous posts in this series, see [1 2 3 4 5] Video #65 – Keto-Enol Tautomerism Length: 8:03 Summary: 3-methyl 2-butanone is drawn, and the mechanism for its conversion into its enol […]

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#ChemCoach : Online Organic Chemistry Tutor

October 25, 2012

For any readers who are interested in chemistry as a career, blogger SeeArrOhh of Just Like Cooking is running a blogging carnival called #ChemCoach where chemists talk about their careers and how they got there. If you’re at all interested in the huge variety of jobs that people with a chemistry background do, I highly […]

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Khan Academy for Organic Chemistry – Part 5

October 23, 2012

IN this post (the 5th of 6) we go through videos 52-64 of Khan Academy for Organic Chemistry, covering mostly aromatic compounds and aldehydes/ketones. [For previous posts, see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4] Video #52: Aromatic Compounds and Huckel’s Rule Length: 10:24 Summary: Benzene has unusual stability, a property called “aromaticity”;  the p […]

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