Thursday, October 9, 2014

Pen Display Helps to Make Chemistry Videos for Posting or for Flipping

Using the Wacom 2241 Pen Display in the Chemistry Classroom

One of the main things the attracted me to the iPad in the first place was the way it is a tool for creating short videos demonstrating chemistry problems to be posted online for student viewing and reviewing.  One of the first tasks I completed when I got my first iPad back in 2010 was create a screencast using the ShowMe app that I posted to help my students review Lewis dot structures.  The last time I checked it had over 11,500 views!  (That's a lot for me.)

I started creating chemistry videos back in the early 2000's using an HP tablet.  It took forever.  The software was slow and then the video had to be "rendered" in an appropriate "codec" which could then be posted online as a Quicktime video or Windows Media Player video.  Here are some of my earliest examples that I called Chemistry mini web lectures.  I still use them today and many students have commented that the short videos have helped them understand problem solving.


Movie production just got a lot easier and quicker for me!  My department acquired 3 Wacom 2241 pen displays.

The pen display is a large tablet or (22")  extra monitor that can be written on with a special pen.  The display must be connected to a computer via USB and DVI cables.  I can then open my lecture notes in an app that lets me write on them.  Currently I am using Sketchbook as the app that allows the writing.  I open my lecture notes as a Tiff or JPEG file that I can then write on with the pen.  This program allows me to write in different colors and zoom in or move the document around on the screen.  There are two very good values to this.  First, I can project whatever I am writing.

That picture was one of my early attempts at using the tablet for lecture instead of a document camera. I have since learned how to zoom in and fill the screen much better.  I don't like writing on a blackboard or whiteboard because I want to face my students.  I want to see the expression on their faces and get eye contact with them.  I think that is important.  Learning is a relational experience.  The document reader is good but I often move off of the range of the camera.  Then my students have to tell me that they cannot see what I am writing.  With the pen display I know exactly what the students can see.  Up to this time I have done three full lectures this week completely with the tablet. 

My favorite use of the pen display is that I can screen record or screen capture as I write and talk.  So I can just open QuickTime and go to file and choose New Screen Recording.  I can record what ever happens on the screen along with whatever I say as I write.  This allows me to very quickly create videos that I then post on YouTube.  It is so easy to post on YouTube.  Once you have an account you just click on "upload" and then drag your video from the folder on your computer to the YouTube window and it uploads in a matter of minutes.  It is really nice how easy and short the process is.  I then email the link to my students and have them watch the video and fill in my lecture outline notes. Often the question comes up, "What about accessibility and captioning?"  I think that at some point very soon, I am simply going to assign a video to each student and have them write me a transcript of it.  I can then upload that transcript to YouTube and it will sync with my video.  This will give even more reinforcement to the students' learning.  I will probably give the students a little extra credit for their work.  So it could be win/win for all.

Having my students watch the lecture or part of the lecture at home allows me more time to answer questions in class or go deeper into topics in a way I would not usually be able to.  Having part of my lectures online allows the students to watch them as often as they like and when ever they like.  It provides a "replay" of lecture when they wish to prepare for an exam.  Here are some examples:

I was able to make and post these videos in just a few minutes!

Some of my colleagues are doing most or all of their lectures online.  And then when the students come to class they do what used to be the "homework".  In other words what used to be done at home is now done in class and what was done on campus is now done at home.  Many have referred to this as "flipping" their class.  I am still on the fence with complete flipping in chemistry, but I think I will do it in moderation.  I like the ability to give more help to my students and answer their questions.  I also like that my students can replay part of the lecture over and over for better understanding.  I also like the way the Wacom pen display is much easier to write on than an iPad. Unfortunately I have terrible handwriting.  I think going from the iPad to the Pen Display as far as the writing goes is like watching a normal person's writing go from 1st grade to 3rd grade quality penmanship! 

Of course this was not so much about the iPad as it was accomplishing some of the things I wanted to do with it.  iPads are just tools, very good tools.  Deep understanding and learning is the goal.  Teachers ought to have their toolbox complete with the best tools available to foster student growth and deep learning.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Chemistry App Nicely Helps Students See VSEPR Theory

Odyssey VSEPR (Valence Shell Electron Pair Repulsion) app shows molecular shapes

In my General Chemistry class this week we were learning about molecular shapes and VSEPR theory.  The whole point of VSEPR theory is to help us understand the 3-dimensional structure of molecules.  First we learn Lewis dot structures.  Lewis is a helpful theory but we soon see that Lewis structures have many exceptions and they don't really predict shapes.  VSEPR theory is an improvement on Lewis theory in that it does predict 3-D shapes.  The problem is that we then draw these shapes on 2-dimensional paper and the students don't really get a true picture of the 3 dimensions.  The Odyssey folks have created a neat little app that lets us get real close to the 3-D structures on the iPad.  Here is a picture of the app icon:

I have tried other apps that I really like and reviewed in earlier posts.  What is missing from the other apps is a depiction of the unshared or nonbonding electrons that are so important in influencing the shape of the molecule.  In this  Odyssey app the unshared electrons are shown:

In other apps I have used the shape of this bent molecule was clear but Odyssey VSEPR is the only app I have found that shows those two nonbonding pairs of electrons that cause this molecule to be bent.  Also, like the other apps, this structure can be rotated to give the student a clear perspective of its 3-d structure.   I really like the way this app is arranged too.  On the right of the above picture are the choices of different molecular arrangements.  They are organized according to the number of electron groups or electron pairs in the molecule which turns out to be exactly the way I teach this concept.  So in the case of 4 electron groups the geometry is a tetrahedron.  If you want to see what it looks like when all four pairs of electrons are bonding you click on the AX4 button and the molecule looks like this:

You can see in the above picture that it is possible to highlight three atoms and get the bond angle between them which in this case is 109.47 degrees. In the molecule from the first example, which could be like water, the same electron geometry is shown (tetrahedral) but the molecular geometry is bent.  

In the bottom right of the above picture you can see that the app provides many molecules demonstrating specific example of VSEPR theory applied to molecular shape prediction.  Here is one example of the ion ICl2 -  :

I wish I had this app when I was taking chemistry the first time!  I know I keep saying that, but it makes it so easy to see and understand.  I still used my "Molymod" model kit to show the students but I do not have enough of the kits to go around, and building the molecules one at a time takes so much more time.  This app quickly lets the students see and understand the structure of the molecules.  I asked a handful of the students and they were all very positive about it. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Welcome to the iPad

Have students create introductory videos as a first use of iPads in your class

In my Organic Chemistry lab class about one third of the students have their own iPad.  Probably about half have used them in other classes leaving about half that have had little to no experience with iPads in an educational setting.  I have noticed that when students create a digital lab report in my class many of them have frustrating problems which arise.  Some of these problems are good as they cause the students to problem-solve.  This is a good skill.  But sometimes the frustration level is too high and it distracts from the real purpose of the iPad in that particular assignment.  The purpose is to utilize the technology as a tool to develop and express creativity as the students better articulate the difficult chemistry concepts they learned in a format other than purely written.  

Yesterday was the first time I took out the iPads in my Fall 2014 Organic lab.  I am starting out a little differently from previous semesters.

I am in a work group, called a "faculty inquiry group" with my colleagues.  In this group we share what we have tried with the iPads and come up with new ideas and discuss results etc.  One professor, the leader of the group, Dr. Stieber, had her students produce a quick video introducing themselves using the iPad.  They then had to upload the video to the web.  One of the biggest problems that frequently occurs has been the process of uploading screencasts.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it does not.  As I have posted earlier some students have lost their entire screencast in the process and had to start over!  So I decided to have my students  produce a short screencast about themselves using the Explain Everything App.  Then I had them attempt to upload it to three different places: Youtube, Google Drive, and Dropbox.  I want to share the results but first I want to share three handouts I gave them.

1) Here is the simple handout I gave them about the assignment: (You can click on any of these forms or attachments and they will enlarge for easier reading.)

2) I also have the students sign a "talent release" so that I can share their work:
3) The students also need to sign a contract for the iPads, which at this point are only used on our campus. (They don't take the iPads home.)

The Google form they fill out as they check out and check in the iPad looks like this:

This form helps me keep track of the iPads better than a paper sign in sheet which I would invariably lose.

So here is what I expected to happen.  I expected the students to take two minutes to create a two minute video.  DuH!  Wrong again!  They took an hour to make a two minute video.  This is not because the students are slow or unskilled.  This is because the students took the assignment very seriously as organic students tend to take all things very seriously.  If this had been a lower class like Chem. 110 the students would have created quick and simple videos in a shorter time.  But again, I forgot to tell my organic students this was to be a quick and simple process.  When I started to watch the videos I was really impressed, but production took a lot longer than I intended.  This takes me back to lessons I have learned in the past which is to be very clear on my expectations.  But I will take the quality work as a "consolation prize" for sure!

Once the students uploaded their video I had them go to another Google form to send me the links to their video and to comment on the process.  Here is that Google form:

As you can see, I asked the students to also upload the videos to the "Explain Everything" website. I had forgotten that Explain Everything is not like the Educreations app which lets you house your screencast on their own website.  So the students can only upload to the other three websites.

So here are the responses to some of the questions from the above form:

I have 14 students in the class.  12 responded.  Of those 8 said that Google Drive was the easiest to upload to.  Drop box and Youtube got one vote each.  All but two students sent me the link to their video on Dropbox.  All but one sent me the link to Google Drive.  Two sent me a link to Youtube.  My hunch is that they can now go home to their laptop or desktop and link from Google Drive to Youtube.  But as it stands Google Drive won out as the easiest to upload to from Explain Everything on the iPad.  There are two ways to upload the videos to Google drive.  They can upload directly from the Explain Everything app by clicking on the "upload" icon which is a box with an up arrow. Or they can save the video to the camera role on the iPad and upload the video to Google Drive from there.  I need to ask the students which way worked better.

I can't wait to watch more of the introductory videos and see how this affects the digital lab presentations during the semester.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Mixed Experience with Net Ionic Equations

Generally, my thinking is that iPads will reinforce a skill but in a much deeper way than just practicing the skill on a homework assignment.  This did not turn out to be the case when I had students create screencasts of "net ionic equations."

I think that writing a net ionic equation really synthesizes many different skills and concepts learned in a chemistry class.  The students have to demonstrate that they know how to write symbols and formulas, balance equations, predict products, know the solubility rules, distinguish between strong and weak acids.  In other words net ionic equations are one of those things that "ties it all together."  So what a perfect type of skill to demonstrate on a screencast.  I assigned my students each a different equation.  They had to write the "molecular", "total ionic" and "net ionic" equations.  As they wrote they had to audibly explain what they were writing.  This is no different from other screencast assignments.  My thinking was that the assignment would make them learn the skill so deeply that they would all "ace" the exam.  This did not happen at all.  Here is a typical problem:

"Hydrochloric acid is added to sodium fluoride."  Here is a screencast of a student performing this skill.

This is the type of problem that gives students fits because you are given a strong acid HCl and it produces a weak acid HF.  In the total ionic equation H + (aq) and Cl- (aq) are written separately because HCl completely ionizes in aqueous solution.  Conversely HF(aq) is written in its molecular form because it mostly stays unionized as molecules.  Students have a difficult time with this.

Here is another example screencast of net ionic equations.  In that example a precipitate is formed.

Students tended to explain the concepts and write them out correctly in their screencast. But when it came to the exam a very large number of students did not receive a passing grade.  In fact it was well over half that did not pass.  I was very surprised.  During a subsequent laboratory time I called many students up individually and asked them why this happened.  I showed them their screencast that was done correctly and then I showed them their exam with a similar problem and it was done incorrectly.  In several cases on the screencast the students correctly showed the weak acid written as a molecule and even noted clearly that it was a weak acid but then on the exam they wrote the acid in ionic form.  Many shook their heads. Many were unable to explain why this happened but almost all quickly and clearly understood their mistake.  It is very hard for me to come up with a clear explanation of this.  I will say it again. I totally expected that the screencast would have driven home the concept.

I have to come up with something so here it is.  This was a six week class in the summer.  This particular summer we moved the concept of net ionic equations to an earlier time in the curriculum calendar.  I think that the students just did not have enough time to learn these concepts deeply enough. I think they got it well enough to explain in a screencast (They had about 2 hours to do the screencast) but not well enough for a pressure filled exam.  This was a good lesson for me to learn.  iPads are not the be all end all.  They are just a very good tool that will help, but they are not magic.

Good News in the End!

I did something I have never done before.  The test results were so bad, among the worst I had seen in college, that I actually gave a make-up test.  The students knew the gravity of the situation and also knew how much I was bending over backward to help them succeed.  They did better.

The students got a third chance on the final exam.  Net ionic equations show up on the final.  The difficulty of the problems is the same.  This time all but one student passed the part of the final exam which includes net ionic equations.  My thinking is that for them to learn it deep enough for a high stakes, high pressure exam, they need much time and multiple modes of reinforcement.  Do I plan to use iPads again this new semester in my Elementary Chemistry class to practice net ionic equations?  Absolutely!  I am just not going to expect the iPads to do something impossible.

Friday, August 15, 2014

iPads from a Parent's Viewpoint

A Small Revolution is Happening

I have been writing about the use of iPads in the college chemistry class.  But I am also a parent of three kids.  Two are now in college and my youngest, Sam, is just entering Junior High.  I think my youngest child's education will end up being very different from that of my oldest two.  For my oldest two they did not use iPads at all.  But  iPads were used quite a lot in my youngest's last year of elementary school and now they are taking over the educational process at his junior high.   I would like to write about my initial thoughts as a parent observing the use of iPads in my child's schools.

Elementary School Experience 

I have had the privilege to be fairly involved in my kids' education in Fullerton, California.  My wife Lisa is a former teacher that decided to stay home when our children were born.  When they entered elementary school she was offered a one day a week job as a "rotation" teacher in kindergarten.  She works half a day every wednesday in the garden.  The students rotate through different activities on these days which includes time in the garden.   My wife also subs about two other days a week in the same school.  This has allowed me access to the classroom.  My wife and I have tried to be very supportive of the teachers and get to know them over the last 15 years.  Besides, the teachers are always very eager to have someone come in and do an occasional chemistry lesson.  So I get to talk with the teachers and ask them questions about curriculum and their use of technology.

This last year, 2013-14, many of the teachers were given the opportunity to use iPads extensively in their classrooms.  I think that the Fullerton Elementary district is a very technology-thinking district.  The Fullerton High School district is quite another matter.  At the end of the 2012-13 school year the teachers were told that they could get a classroom set of iPads if they were willing to go to a multi-week iPad training in the summer.  Sam's sixth grade teacher was one of these teachers.

The Trade-off

There is a cost with using iPads.  Sixth grade is the year of world history and ancient civilizations.  The two sixth grade teachers at my kids' school are fantastic.  Previous to this last year the kids would spend weeks building an Egyptian tomb.  They would decorate it with Egyptian style art.  Then during open house parents would get to walk through this elaborate tunnel that started in one classroom, snaked outside, and ended up in the other sixth grade classroom.  It was really remarkable.  These classrooms were the most popular on campus the night of open house.  I remember getting claustrophobic as I walked through the semi-dark catacombs.  It added to the authenticity...but not this year.

This year the Egyptian tomb was was the "extra" that got bumped out and replaced by iPads.  I think the iPads engaged the students, but in a different way.  I am not making a judgement one way or the other: massive Egyptian art projects or iPads?  I am not sure of the right answer.  And maybe now that the teachers have a year under their belt they will put more of the Egyptian art back in.  What they replaced the passed projects with was in itself good.  My son talked a lot about using QR codes in his class.  I thought it was just a fad...until I went to open house.  In the classroom that night were the usual displays of student creations such as reports, poems, art etc.  But this time the student work was accompanied by a QR code.   Parents could then take their smart phone or iPad and click on the QR code.  The device would then be directed to an online google drive folder which contained a spoken narrative by the student discussing their work.  Or in some cases the student made a video commentary on their work.  I was very impressed by this.  So there was clearly a trade off.  There was no Egyptian tunnel, a tradition going back many years at Raymond Elementary.  But what we got instead was a recorded guided tour throughout the year of what the students had learned.  I thought it was very personal and it demonstrated the depth of knowledge that a simple poem or picture on the wall could not do.  I was so impressed that I plan on using this QR code method this next semester in my Organic Chemistry lab!

The New Experience of Learning in Junior High

My son Sam started Junior High on Monday and Back-to-School night was on Thursday (last night) of the first week.  Every student received a take home iPad.  Here are my initial impressions and observations, which will of course develop over time.  His first class is math.  The new world hit us right off the bat.  There are no math textbooks!  Wow!  Homework too is online.  From there the classes varied in their iPad use.  Some teachers used textbooks but will use the iPads for assignments.  The teachers seemed very comfortable with this new way.  At least that is the way they were on the outside.  One of his teachers mentioned that she spent part of the summer at training on the iPads.  So I think that is the key: training.  I think those teachers that have been trained will have a much better chance of succeeding.  It has been four years since my middle kid has been in Junior High to now my youngest being a student there.  I saw many of the same teachers.  My first impression is that they made the transition to iPads look pretty smooth.  But there is another issue, and that is the Common Core.  Not only is the technology changing but the curriculum is changing too.  I wonder if the teachers will just get overwhelmed.  Here are my impressions.  The teacher that was still using the textbook (language arts and social studies) was using the same book.  In other words she is not getting a new Common Core book.  Further more both her and my son's math teacher made off hand comments that Common Core was not really that big of a change.  I personally think it is quite a big change and was surprised to hear these teachers say what they said.  Nevertheless, I think it is a lot to ask of teachers to make tremendous changes in what they teach and the way they teach it all at once.  I plan on paying close attention as time goes on.  These seem to be wonderful caring teachers.  I hope they don't get completely overwhelmed by everything.

One last observation and comment.  In Fullerton the High School district is separate from the Junior High and Elementary District.  And boy is there a huge digital divide.  I am flabbergasted at how little the high schools use technology.  I know several of the teachers, some are close friends.  I also have worked with the Superintendent and talked with the principal.  They are all wonderful people.  They care about their students and they care about learning!  They also have the highest character.  So let me start with that.  But when they talk about technology they throw around the terms like flipping or iPads in a way that you can tell they know the buzz words but don't have a mastery of them at all.  It is going to be very interesting when all of these kids show up from junior high  speaking a digital language, having had their brains re-wired and they get handed a textbook.  It will be very interesting to watch.  The high school district spent their money on not furloughing the teachers during the recent economic downturn.  The elementary district did furlough and spent more money on technology.  Also at Raymond elementary the principal decided to spend money on iPads instead of spending it on smaller class size.  At least that is what I have been told.  It is all a trade off either way...

Monday, May 26, 2014

Use of iPads in Chemistry Varies from Level to Level

Mole Calculations and Lewis Dot Structures in a First Level Chemistry Class

Up to this point I have tried to use the iPad in Organic Chemistry lab and 2nd semester General Chemistry Lecture and Lab.  My colleague Cheryl Shimazu has used the iPads in 1st semester General Chemistry.  This semester I decided to use them in my Preparatory Chemistry class.  I wanted to see how students in their first semester of chemistry, and some in their first year of college, would work with the iPads.  My plan was to reinforce mole calculations during lab time.  We have a lab in this class that we have been thinking about replacing for some time so I took the liberty of doing a different kind of "hands-on" experience.

Moles are one of the cornerstones of chemistry.  Up to this point in the semester students have mastered dimensional analysis with mostly familiar units.  But using the mole takes dimensional analysis to a whole new level.  If students can master moles then they will have a very high chance of succeeding in the rest of the calculations of chemistry.  But often students get stuck in the "mole hole."

I really want them to "master" the concept of moles and how to perform gram to mole and mole to mole and particle to mole calculations.  I think that if they are required to explain the concept they will have a chance for it to sink in deep.  So as I have many times I turned to the iPads and the app "Educreations" to give the students a chance to teach the world. Here are some links to their productions and then I will make some observations:

Student demonstration of mole calculation #1

Student demonstration of mole calculations #2

What I found was that these students were much quicker at completing the assignment than the higher level students.  They worked hard but they did not seem to be as picky as my General Chemistry or Organic Chemistry students.  Generally my colleague and I have found that the lower the level the quicker the students are and more likely to take a risk.  They did not try to be as perfect as the upper students.  This of course has an up and a down side.  The up side was that they completed the task in enough time for me to assign them another task with the iPads.  In this same unit students are learning to draw Lewis dot structures.  In a 3 hour lab period the students were able to easily complete the two screencasts (mole calculation and Lewis dot).  My ultimate goal for the students was to have them explain the concept so that it would deepen their understanding.  I think this was accomplished.  Having the presentations be beautiful is secondary to me at this point.  So I am very pleased with the outcome.  The average grade on the exam (#2) was 86%.  The previous time I taught this class the average on this exam was 71%.  I cannot say it is a perfect comparison as the sample size is too small and there are too many variables, but the correlation is favorable to the use of iPads.  On the exam they have to perform calculations very similar to those they sreencasted. Here are some examples of the Lewis dot structure screencasts:

Student demonstration of Lewis dot structure #1

Student demonstration of Lewis dot structure #2

This was the only time we used iPads this last semester in this class.  But for me it may have been the most enjoyable use of iPads in the classroom so far.  The students seemed to enjoy the experience.  Here are some of their comments:

"It was a great way for me to listen to myself speak and correcting my terminology on the subject. Giving me a better understanding of what I was teaching but wasn't quite sure about."

"I felt this exercise helped me better understand the problem for the reason that I was explaining rather than being on the other end and listening. I greatly recommend this method of teaching."

"I feel like I'm in a school of the future"

"This app is pretty cool and helps you interact more with the lessons"

One thing I have learned from the last two semester is not to overuse the iPads.  I think last semester I used them too much and the students lost the joy of learning with the new technology.  With my Prep Chem. class this was definitely not the case.  Many asked, "When are we going to get to use the iPads again?"

Friday, April 4, 2014

Creating "90 Second Documentaries" on the iPad

Steam distillation is a very common experiment done in organic chemistry labs everywhere.  I like this experiment.  We start with ground cloves and take out the essential oil eugenol.  The room begins to smell of this wonderful molecule and it reminds me of pumpkin pie and all of those delightful smells of thanksgiving!  Here is the structure of this molecule that can be found on the iPad app called "Nice Molecules":

I took a screenshot of the molecule and saved the image as a jpeg on my desktop iMac.  I just marvel at the way molecules are put together and the way their structure produces their function.  My students like that fact that we are not just performing steam distillation on any old molecule.  Eugenol is something that is used every day and it allows me to demonstrate the relevance of chemistry to our whole life.  The big challenge of using iPads in my organic chemistry class to produce digital lab reports has been time.  It takes a lot of time for the students to learn the technology of an app like Explain Everything.  It takes a lot of time to produce the video from their pictures and voice and all of the cool tools you have with this screen casting app.  I had the students produce videos for simple and fractional distillation and one of the screencasts was almost 18 minutes long!  I think they should be limited to about 7 minutes or so.  

For steam distillation I decided to go a different direction.  I just attended the CUE conference in Palm Springs and heard about the idea of using iMovie to make trailers.  In this app there are templates that make it very easy to create these short, information-packed movies.  I wanted to have my students be familiar with the technology of this app before they came to class so I assigned them to watch two YouTube videos on making trailers with the iPad app iMovie.  They had to send me their evaluations of these "How to" videos via a google form.  When they came to class the next day I told them that their quiz on the steam distillation lab was to create a short "documentary" or trailer using iMovie.  Their creation had to describe the purpose, process and product of steam distillation of eugenol.  The first movie is a trailer using the iMovie template.  Be careful the music makes it very dramatic!


The second movie is not a trailer. The students simply used iMovie to make a quick video describing steam distillation in 90 seconds.  Here it is:


This quiz was an experiment for me.  Could they capture the essence (pun intended) of steam distillation  in 90 seconds?  

As I reflect and assess my assignment I think that steam distillation is probably too hefty of a concept to capture in such a short amount of time.  The students were able to explain the second half of the experiment which includes extracting the eugenol from water with methylene chloride and drying the solution.  But explaining how the process of steam distillation lowers the boiling point of eugenol from 254 degrees to below 100 degrees in a few short sentences is a bit of a stretch.  In some of the trailers the students tried to add "titles" that are just too long and go off of the screen.  Also the Ken Burns affect does not work for every photo.  I think the 90 second documentary format would be better for one of the other lab experiments.  Nevertheless the students seemed to enjoy themselves and learn.  When asked if they would like to do this kind of assignment again for a quiz three fourths of the students said yes.  

When I specifically asked:  "How did this format help you learn chemistry?", many of the students answered that they had to explain the chemistry and that helped them learn it.   When asked what they liked most about this approach, many said they liked the ability to use their creativity.  So with that I can say one of my main goals was achieved.  When I asked the students if they would rather do the digital or written format, two said written, the rest said that it did not matter or they would prefer digital.  

The steam distillation of eugenol is a fantastic way to connect chemistry to everyday life.  First of all one can talk about how so many flavors and aromatic substances are extracted from natural sources. This includes nutmeg (isoeugenol) and vanilla (vanillin) and so many others.  Also one can learn about the process of how we smell molecules with the benzene or aromatic ring.  But there is something even more interesting to me and that is the connection between these spices and history.  In many ways the world is the way it is today because of the way European countries sought after spices, and specifically these aromatic molecules.  Just think about how the quest for spices fueled colonization, shipping, trading, world exploration, wars, slavery and the entire financial system.  America was "discovered" by Europeans looking for essential molecules, even though they would not have put it that way.  The source of eugenol, the clove plant, was grown on a tiny island called Run in what is now Indonesia.  It was owned by Britain.  But the Netherlands wanted it badly.  The two countries fought over this little piece of isolated land.  Finally they decided to trade.  The Netherlands gave New Amsterdam to Britain in return for Run and the all important eugenol.  What was the new name the British quickly gave to New Amsterdam?  New York!  Just try to tell me chemistry doesn't effect everything!   You can read more about how molecules affected history and much more in the wonderful book Napoleons Buttons.