The Big Picture Podcasts


For students, instructors, and life-long learners, our Big Picture Podcast series distills the flavor of the college experience through two formats: 1) The “Back Story” where we explore topics such as “how to study effectively”. We interview special guests including educators, scientists, and engineers. We also take the listener on audio field trips such as to the grounds of a former plutonium facility and a farm based upon sustainable agriculture. 2) “Do the Review” where the listener sits down with the textbook authors as they discuss the main ideas and nuances of each chapter of your “conceptual” textbook. A super-powered office visit sure to help you on your exams.

Put this all together and we’re talking about a new, fun, and engaging way to learn as well as appreciate basic science concepts anytime, anywhere. Mostly, this podcast series is a thoughtful step back—a reflection on the meaning of one’s education, which we call the big picture. We are starting with Conceptual Chemistry, which will be followed by efforts with our other conceptual titles.


Chem 101: Big Picture Podcast, Chapter 01, How to Study Effectively

Chapter 01 (Episode 01): Introduction and How to Study Effectively

Show Notes

This first episode presents effective study strategies, such as delayed retrieval, interleaving, and step 1 / step 2 learning. This is followed by a review of the first chapter of the Conceptual Chemistry textbook including topics such as the scientific method, basic and applied research, and unit conversion. Advice on how to make good use of the traditional science textbook is also provided.


Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning,  Peter C. Brown, et. al. The Belknap Press, 2014. ISBN: 978-0674729018.

How To Study Effectively, John Suchocki, 2018.


PDF: Chem101BPP01

Chem 101: Big Picture Podcast, Chapter 02, The Anthropology of Learning

Chapter 02 (Episode 02): The Anthropology of Learning


Show Notes

Description: From the authors of the “conceptual” line of science textbooks, in this second episode we discuss the how cognitive “frames” color our worldview. Recognizing these frames can help us to remain open to new ideas. The yet to be recognized term “collective causation” is used as an example of hypocognition. This is followed by a review of Chapter 2 of Conceptual Chemistry relating to the particulate nature of matter.

References: Cognitive Neuroscience: The Biology of the Mind, Michael Gazzaniga, Richard B. Ivery, George R. Mangun, W. W. Norton & Company, New York, NY, 2019.

Culture and the Individual: Theory and Method of Cultural Consonance, William W. Dressler, Routledge, New York, NY, 2018.

Don’t Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate, George Lakoff, Chelsea Green Publishing, White River Junction, VT, 2014.


“Draw the picture, build the frame Write the words, remember the names Everything that happened, happened as such Feather weight emotions just to touch You could never see it since you are there When outside die is beyond compare Eagles eye, end of the sky People see what they see, still ask why Frames of thought, frames of mind Trapped inside, trace the lines Old world, enter outside Own your truth, no need to hide No eyewitness I can see Fresh for the times, be who I be Make a timeline then break free Own yourself, you can never own me.: Noah Haspray April 2019

Transcript: PDF: Chem101BPP02

Chem 101: Big Picture Podcast, Chapter 03, Team-based Learning

Chapter 03 (Episode 03): Team-based Learning

Show Notes

Description: From the authors of the “conceptual” line of science textbooks, in this third episode we interview Brian Pritchard an expert in the area of team based activities and human performance. Attention is given to the value of team-based learning in the classroom and beyond. This is followed by a review of Conceptual Chemistry’s foundational Chapter 3, Elements of Chemistry. Topics include physical and chemical changes, the periodic table, elements and compounds, mixtures, and nanotechnology.


Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank, Doubleday & Company, New York, NY, 1946.

The Fifth Discipline: The art & Practice of The Learning Organization, Peter M. Senge, Penguin Random House, New York, NY, 2006.

“We will never transform the prevailing system of management without transforming our prevailing system of education. They are the same system.”   W. Edwards Deming


PDF: Chem101BPP03

Chem 101: The Big Picture Podcast, Chapter 04a, Academic Endurance

Chapter 04a (Episode 04): Academic Endurance

Show Notes

We are now publishing the “Back Story” and “Do the Review” segments of each chapter as separate podcasts. This means the episode number will start to diverge from the chapter number. For this fourth backstory episode (Episode 04) we interview Stephanie Blake, a science professor from Ozarks Technical College in Springfield, Missouri. The subject matter: Academic Endurance. Learn from Professor Blake how best to strengthen your academic endurance. It has everything to do with working within a community and enjoying the journey. Duration: 30 min 54 sec.


Year of Yes, How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person, Shondra Rhimes, Simon and Schuster Publishing, New York, 2016.



Chem 101: The Big Picture Podcast, Chapter 04b, Subatomic Particles

Chapter 04b (Episode 05): Subatomic Particles

Show Notes

Here in episode 5 we review the first half of chapter 4 of Conceptual Chemistry. We start by reviewing the conceptual model, which describes how a system behaves. We then explore some of the history behind the discovery of subatomic particles. This episode concludes with a review of the vocabulary associated with subatomic particles, including atomic number and atomic mass number. Duration: 30:55.

Transcripts (pdf):

Chapter 04b (Episode 05)


Chem 101: The Big Picture Podcast, Chapter 04c, Atoms and Quantum Theory

Chapter 04c (Episode 06): Atoms and Quantum Theory

Show Notes

This episode features a review of the second half of Chapter 4 of Conceptual Chemistry. It begins with the nature of light followed by the idea that energy itself is quantized, which means it occurs in packets. We then explore the wave nature of electrons and how this explains an element’s spectral fingerprint as well as the organization of the periodic table. Duration: 42:25.

Transcripts (pdf):


Chem 101: The Big Picture Podcast, Chapter 05a, Visit to Rocky Flats

Chapter 05a (Episode 07): Visit to Rocky Flats

Show Notes

For this “Back Story” segment for our nuclear chapter, we visit the site of the former Rocky Flats plutonium facility where from 1952 to 1989 plutonium triggers were produced for the hydrogen bombs in the USA nuclear arsenal. Major anti-nuclear protests were held at this site in the 1980s leading, in part, to its closure. Through decades of operation, much plutonium and other toxic chemicals were released into the local area, which is now a dedicated wild life refuge. We provide some of the history of Rocky Flats and even dig into some of the science behind the building of nuclear bombs. However, given the magnitude of significance, we also aim to provide space for reflection as supported by the audio nuances captured by our field recorder. Duration: 27:15.

[Coordinates: 39.883312, -105.235203]

Online References:

Show Transcripts: Chem101BPP05a


Chem 101: The Big Picture Podcast, Chapter 05b, Radioactivity

Chapter 05b (Episode 08): Radioactivity

Show Notes

For this “Do the Review” episode we review the first half of the nuclear chapter from your textbook and Conceptual Academy. Topics include the nature of radioactivity, the behavior of the atomic nucleus, transmutation, radioactive half-life, and radioactive dating. Duration: 37:45.

Transcripts (pdf):


Transmutation Worksheet:


Chem 101: The Big Picture Podcast, Chapter 05c, Fission and Fusion

Chapter 05c (Episode 09): Fission and Fusion

Show Notes

For this “Do the Review” episode we review the second half of the nuclear chapter from your textbook and Conceptual Academy. This includes a focus on the concepts of nuclear fission and fusion. See below for images of the “most important graph in the universe”, which we describe starting at minute 32. Total duration: Duration: 47:50.

Transcripts (pdf):


Most Important Graph in the Universe:

Graph showing the fusion of hydrogen to helium (from left to right, note mass decrease of nucleons):

Graph showing fission of uranium to two lighter daughters (from right to left, note mass decrease of nucleons):



Chem 101: The Big Picture Podcast, Chapter 06A, Rocket Learning

Chapter 06a (Episode 10): Rocket Learning

Show Notes

For this backstory episode, we interview Mike Lucas, rocket engineer, on the nature of his work environment while also collecting his expert study tips for the aspiring college student. Through our conversations, we stumble upon “Step 3 Learning”, which involves synthesizing new information and solutions based upon a foundation of understanding laid down by Step 1 Learning (input) and Step 2 Learning (output) presented in earlier episodes. We explore how the college experience tends to focus on these first two steps. This can be grueling, but it sets the stage for a much more enjoyable career where Step 3 is the primary focus. Duration:30:19.

Transcripts (pdf):