Friday, September 18, 2009

Sparklers and tie-dyed lab goggles

Photo credit: Piccies

Ilse recognizes:
Rebecca Keller
Pre-IB and IB Chemistry II teacher
Highland Park Senior High School
Saint Paul, MN

If there is one thing that stands out in my mind about Mrs. Keller’s chemistry classes, it is the originality and excitement she added to the material we covered.

I took two courses with Mrs. Keller during high school: pre-IB chemistry during my sophomore year and IB chemistry during my junior year. (IB stands for International Baccalaureate and is somewhat similar to AP) For both courses, Ms. Keller combined conventional teaching (i.e. lectures at the blackboard) with group work and lab work, which kept us engaged throughout the 90-minute class periods.

Lab work was an especially important part of Ms. Keller’s class, as well as one of the most enjoyable components. Pre-IB Chemistry experiments included everything from M&M stoichiometry to slightly more serious titration experiments. IB Chemistry II allowed for even more creativity, since that lab was intended to give students the chance to design and execute their own experiments. One of the more interesting and successful projects done by a student (not myself) involved the creation of homemade sparklers using various metals. And did I mention the tie-dyed lab goggles we made?

Mrs. Keller’s classes also helped prepare me for college and influenced the choices I made there. My high school chemistry background provided a strong foundation for the general chemistry course I took my freshman year of college (which I took because of Mrs. Keller's classes). Because I enjoyed that semester, I decided to take another semester and eventually declared a chemistry major. And the rest is history.

Thanks, Mrs. Keller.

This tribute is part of our spotlight on science educators series.
Part 1 - Introduction
Part 2 - High School Chemistry: More than Science
Part 3 - Making Tessellations

To share your story about a science educator who helped shape your path, leave a comment, or send your story to hbenson at

No comments:

Post a Comment