Cardozo Creates Online Chemistry Textbook

In the midst of a transition to technology-based curricula across campus, Kevin Cardozo, Instructor in Chemistry, has created Non Sibi High School, a site that moves Andover’s chemistry textbooks—written by Cardozo and complete with original lessons and problems—online for anyone’s use. Cardozo began writing content and constructing the webpage for Non Sibi High School in the spring of 2012 after receiving an Abbot grant for the project. “The light bulb went off in my head that we should be making PA’s high-quality educational materials available to any student, anywhere,” said Cardozo, who was inspired by the Khan Academy model of open access to education. He hopes that the free problems and review will not only help Andover students, but will help students attending schools without advanced Chemistry courses prepare for the Chemistry AP and SAT exams. “I thought ‘Non Sibi’ in the name would be highly appropriate because its meaning, ‘not for self,’ captures my strong belief that education should not be about making a profit. The best possible education should not be available only to those who can pay the most or those who have connections to an exclusive network of schools, but instead it should be available to all students,” he added. Non Sibi High School currently offers a free complete online textbook equivalent to Chemistry 250. The Chemistry 300 textbook, though available online, currently has two chapters missing and will be complete in October, while the Chemistry 550 textbook has yet to be written and will not be fully available until Fall 2014. “No other single free resource includes all the Chemistry topics we’d like students to learn at PA. I wanted to create a free ‘one-stop shopping’ resource for thorough coverage of all our desired topics that presents college-level material in a way that is age-appropriate for high school students,” continued Cardozo. The Chemistry Department currently uses college textbooks that often confuses students with their excess information, according to Cardozo. The succinct nature of the online textbook means that students can understand the material and can spend less time reading outside of class. “The material is much more concise and straight to the point. It’s less reading, yet still teaches the same amount of information,” said Victoria Bergeron ’16, who is using the online textbook in Cardozo’s Chemistry 300 class. With a more readable textbook online, Cardozo is able to use the “Flipped Classroom” method, in which students learn the class material in the evenings for homework. Cardozo said that when students come to class with an understanding of the assigned topic already, the class can effectively spend the majority of the period practicing problems instead of requiring students to listen to a lecture each day. “It makes sense to decrease time demands on students outside of class, while at the same time using class time much more productively, and the website is one way to help bring about this change,” said Cardozo. Additionally, switching to free online materials instead of relying on paper chemistry books from publishing houses makes chemistry courses considerably more affordable for students, and could save Andover’s financial aid budget tens of thousands of dollars each year, according to Cardozo. “As for accessibility, Non Sibi High School is great because it is online, so as long as you have a smartphone or mobile device you can access it anywhere on campus instead of having to lug around a huge, heavy, hardcover Chem textbook,” said Marcello Rossi ’16, a Chemistry 300 student. Cardozo has already stopped using the paper textbook for his Chemistry 300 class and plans to do the same in Chemistry 550 next year when the online textbook is finished. “I’m hoping that others in the Chemistry Department will join me in abandoning paper textbooks completely and using free online materials instead, which I believe could be much more effective for student learning,” Cardozo added. Cardozo received assistance in the making of the website from friends and family members who would like to remain anonymous. Instead of naming individuals, the website lists and gives credit to the colleges they attended.