Shuffle And Remember


I had a cool idea this morning – in the shower, where inspiration so often strikes. It’s the second day of Spring semester, with the sequel O-Chem 2 course (and therefore 95% of students were in my Fall course), so after the usual first-day “welcome back, here’s the syllabus, here’s the lab reports you turned in the last days before the final” and a bit about finding summer research internships in the sciences, the students agreed that they’d rather spend a day refreshing themselves on reactions from O-Chem 1 before plunging ahead.

I thought I had some good review materials in Powerpoint clicker format, but nope. I had good review material for about one and a half chapters. So what to do? Have each student say one thing they remembered, in turn, no duplicates? Write a worksheet or maybe hand out an old final exam? Naah.

And here it is: Get two stacks of index cards, in different colors. Gave each student three cards. On one color, write (and name) an organic molecule with one or two functional groups. On the other color, write a set of reaction conditions they remember from the fall term, not necessarily related to the molecules they drew. Share the cards around, shuffled, so each student gets new cards from different people.

Then, the goal is to match conditions to cards so that all cards were paired up. The structure cards could be used as either reactants or as products, as long as the reagent cards worked. Thus, if a student had “cyclohexanol” s/he could match it with either “BH3-THF then H2O2, (as product of hydroboration/oxidation of cyclohexene), or maybe with “chromic acid” as the reactant (making cyclohexanone).

We got most of the cards paired off. They were allowed to swap cards as needed, in case of having unreactive combinations. With 10 minutes left in the period, I gathered the un-paired cards at the front to see what was left – there were a few more matches that could be made. There were also, for no good reason, three cards whose reagents were “CH3OH, H2SO4” – not sure where that came from.

I think it was a pretty good review exercise. I needed to give out a third color and have that be the missing reactant or product. Maybe it would be fun to see what kind of a “chain” I could have them make – hit something with this reactant, then that one, then that one. That would mean making many more reagent cards than reactant cards.

Anyway, just putting this out there for the inspiration of my “vast” readership of other chem teachers. How would you incorporate something like this as a pre-exam, or beginning-of-sequel-course, in chemistry or in some other subject?

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PS Expecting an announcement soon….

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