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    Philippa On The Ice Philippa Werry at an Antarctic research camp 2016

New Zealand Science Teacher

Science Curriculum/Scientific Literacy

Chemical Minds offers practical help

Chemical Minds is a wikispace for students looking for support with their assessment.

Chemical Minds is a wikispace set up by Auckland science teacher Michele McMahon, to support students undertaking NCEA Chemistry.

The site provides a comprehensive analysis of each type of question for Levels 1, 2 and 3 externally assessed Achievement Standards of the NCEA chemistry exams.

Michele brings her expertise of nearly 20 years’ experience as an educator to Chemical Minds. “The examiner's tips are particularly helpful for students as they have been produced using comments provided on previous years’ assessment reports as well as my personal experience of common errors, misconceptions, or omissions that students make,” she says.

The site is a hub for NCEA chemistry assessment, and not supposed to be used as a content site. “I do feel that it is important to mention Chemical Minds is designed to help students to improve their familiarity with and ability to answer NCEA style exam questions, says Michele. “It is not a tutorial site that assists with understanding of the content required for the NCEA Chemistry exams.”

Michele says the wikispace is ‘very much a work in progress’, so there may be some omissions , but it aims to provide help and encouragement to young chemists looking for some extra support. Students are also welcome to email Michele directly for answers to specific questions.

In particular, students who have been ill or have other personal or family issues might have missed vital help during chemistry class and will find the site helpful in sorting out what they need to do for their assessments.

On Chemical Minds, students and teachers can access:

• Examiners’ tips based on previous examiner reports

• Downloadable worksheets where similar past NCEA Exam questions have been collated together (answers too!)

• “Crystal ball moments” (potential exam questions, including their answers!)

• Links to relevant pages on the NZQA website with past exam papers, assessment schedules and examiner reports.

Also, Michele has included some definitions, summary tables, flow chats for organic reactions and more that students will find useful in addition to their own books and online resources.

Everything on the site can be downloaded.

Find Chemical Minds here.

-Michele McMahon teaches science and chemistry at St Cuthbert's College, Auckland.

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