Ideas that Matter Podcast Logo. Featuring a mic icon with rays coming out of the center of the mic with the words "ideas that matter" rounding up at the bottom of the logo.
Where we meet with people making a difference
in higher education and learning.

Brittland DeKorver

A Professor of Chemistry at Grand Valley State University, catches up with Julia about the popular Facebook community she founded and grew. They discuss how it helps instructors and students, especially during this time where remote learning has grown exponentially.

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Tanjot Grewal (Mcmaster University) & Nicole Kada (Wayne State University) 

What ideas do students have for online education?

We talk with Tanjot Grewal of McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario) and Nicole Kada of Wayne State University (Detroit, Michigan) about the student perspective about the coming online semester. What are some of the ideas they bring to make online learning more effective? How does accessibility for all students play a part in this discussion? What are the silver linings, if any, from this shift to online during the Covid-19 pandemic? We end on a hopeful note about the future!

This is a great conversation – let’s get back to school and keep moving forward.

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Jennie Kong Mayer & Rizmina Lathiff

Julia talks with Bellevue College faculty member Jennie Kong Mayer and her organic chemistry student Rizmina Lathiff about features she used with Zoom to make her online class more interactive.

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Jaime Caras

Lab flow was designed to wrap digital curriculum around the traditional lab, wet bench experience that we're all trying to give students, which I think it's very important. But starting in April, when schools started closing down, we had a number of institutions who were using our software and they said, could you help us?

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Renee Link

I teach organic chemistry at UC Irvine and my main job is running the gigantic lab program, mainly for non-chemistry majors. My biggest class is usually during winter quarter and we have 1200 students in that course. I am the only instructor, but I have graduate teaching assistants teaching the lab sections, and I oversee the whole thing with the help of a head TA. In the UC system, we have a unique job title that is officially called Lecturer with Security for Employment, but we get to call it a “Professor of Teaching". My main job is teaching with a side part of scholarship.

What is Specs (Specifications) Grading?

The general idea is laying out specific criteria that students need to meet to get particular grades and just being really specific about what that is and specifications and bundling things so that if you are aiming for an A, B, or C grade, here's what you need to do. How you do that depends on...

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Nicole Kada

My name is Nicole and I'm 24. I am a senior at Wayne State University, graduating with my Bachelor's in Nutrition and Food Science. And the thing that's really important is that I am legally blind with very, very limited eyesight to the point where I can pretty much only see the difference between light and dark and sometimes shapes and shadows. And this journey has been very difficult as a science major while being blind...

Follow Nicole on Twitter & Youtube

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Roberto Peverati

We did a survey in the educational literature and noticed that resources for teaching density functional theory, DFT, were out-of-date and even obsolete. Three years ago, we started to collect and analyze potentially interesting resources that could be used in an educational environment.

Our classes at Florida Tech are small, and the class is dual listed with a mix of 50% undergraduate and 50% graduate students. The smallest class was 5 students and the largest was 12. We are a smaller research university, with 5000 students total. We think the course as designed is scalable to a bigger class, because the examples we chose for the laboratory notebook are not that complicated. Creating a course that can be used by other instructors was one of the goals when we designed...

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Alex Spokoyny and Mary Grumbles

In this interview with UCLA Professor Alex Spokoyny and his fourth-year graduate student, Mary Grumbles, we discuss undergraduate chemistry projects focused on communicating chemistry and science. The project highlighted be low is for a team-focused, open-ended advanced inorganic laboratory class.

Listen to the rest of the podcast to hear about the other projects: a writing exercise where students produce Wikipedia entries for inorganic chemistry topics and a communication project in a non-major’s introductory chemistry course where students refute scientific“statements” made on Twitter.

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Alison Flynn

We work with students in chemistry, education research, and we have started to go into the area of growth and goals, so supporting students in their learning journeys. We want to empower students in their journeys toward careers, so they get the more of their time in higher education.

Time frame for research

I did my PhD research in organic chemistry, so when things were going badly, it could take years and years...

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Andy Brunning

When I was setting up the website (Compound Chem) I thought I would get loads of hits looking for information on the economics of compound interest, so I decided to go with Compound Chemistry. As it turns out, I still routinely on Facebook get a message about how to calculate compound interest, so I have to politely point out that they are probably on the wrong Facebook page.

What is it?

Compound Interest is a website on which I make a variety of posters and infographics where I show different facets of everyday chemistry. Highlighting say the chemistry of different foods and chemical compounds or looking at current events and looking at the chemistry behind that. So, it covers a whole host of topics. With this year being the International Year of the Periodic Table (#IYPT2019), I am doing a graphic for every single element along with the...

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Hai Mac

It’s a website for creating lab diagrams in an easy and intuitive way. You can drag and drop lots of items and pieces of apparatus and assemble your diagram.  You can save it to use in teaching material or just show students how to set up an experiment in the lab.

How did this start?

This is not my day job. I’m not a teacher and I don’t even know that much about chemistry! I created the start of Chemix about 12 years ago when I was still studying and having trouble drawing diagrams for my lab report...

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Marshall Brennan

The name:  It’s a play on archive. The original preprint serves had a Greek Chi instead of an X, that that was the joke, R-Chi-V, so archive. The website name is pronounced Chem-archive, but the URL is, and as long as you can spell it that’s all that really matters. It’s a cool name but a bit confusing for the non-expert, we recognize that.

What it is: It’s a preprint server. Which is a fancy way of saying it’s a place to put your papers prior to peer review. The research is farther along than what you would give as a talk or seminar, but not quite a journal article yet. It’s in that magical time where the work is mostly a complete story, but still malleable because you can get and implement feedback on it...

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Ginger Shultz

This is the second of our new “Ideas that Matter” podcasts,where meet with people making a difference in higher education teaching and learning. Listen to the interview at this link.

One of the more interesting parts of building our NSF-funded R&D has been working with and gaining advice from many talented chemistry education researchers. Professor Ginger Shultz of the University of Michigan is the Principal Investigator of a project sponsored jointly by Alchemie and the Michigan Economic Growth Institute,a state-wide initiative to match companies with university-based...

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Jamie Caras

We sat down with Jamie Caras the founder of Sapling Learning, to talk about his journey and what inspired him to build a series of companies working at the intersection of science learning and technology. Here’s an excerpt from the interview.

I was on the typical PhD track at the University of Texas in biochemistry. My PI was a digital artist and I had some background in programming and web development, so we started building molecular visualizations for biochemistry. We called them biomolecular tours, 3D visualizations of active sites and enzymes. We used these to teach biochemistry and we found them really effective. Students loved to see the 3D stuff on the giant screen in the classroom. With a lot of positive feedback, we started getting featured in conferences and winning awards...

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