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Cheesy Science Emergency Lesson Mark as Favorite (1 Favorite)

LESSON PLAN in Chemical Change, Reaction Rate, Chemical Change, pH, ChemMatters Teaching Resources. Last updated February 01, 2024.


In this lesson, students will learn about pH, acids, bases, enzymes, and chemical reactions through reading the highly rated ChemMatters article, Cheesy Science. The lesson includes several activities to help promote literacy in the science classroom related to the reading. This lesson could be easily used as an emergency lesson plan for a substitute teacher, as most of the activities are self-guided.

Grade Level

High School

NGSS Alignment

This lesson will help prepare your students to meet the performance expectations in the following standards:

  • HS-PS1-5: Apply scientific principles and evidence to provide an explanation about the effects of changing the temperature or concentration of the reacting particles on the rate at which a reaction occurs.
  • Scientific and Engineering Practices:
    • Asking Questions and Defining Problems
    • Analyzing and Interpreting Data


By the end of this lesson, students should be able to:

  • Provide a basic overview of the cheese-making process.
  • Describe how chemistry, and specifically pH plays in important role in making cheese.
  • Explain the meaning of the term, acidification.
  • Describe the pH scale, and the relationship between acids and bases.

Chemistry Topics

This lesson supports students’ understanding of:

  • Acids & Bases
  • pH
  • Acidification
  • Chemical Change


Teacher Preparation: 5 minutes
Lesson: 60-90 minutes



  • No specific safety precautions need to be observed for this activity.

Teacher Notes

  • This lesson was originally designed by the ChemMatters Teacher Guide team as a meaningful resource for teachers to use as an emergency lesson plan for a substitute teacher.
  • The lesson includes multiple components, as outlined individually below. The ChemMatters article is essential for all of the activities. Teachers can choose to do one or all of the included activities. Student handouts and corresponding answer keys are provided for each item described below:
    • Anticipation Guide: Anticipation guides help engage students by activating prior knowledge and stimulating student interest before reading. Students should read and respond to each statement before reading the article, then, while they read, students should look for evidence supporting or refuting their initial responses and again respond to each statement.
    • Graphic Organizer: This helps students locate and analyze information from the article. Students should use their own words and not copy entire sentences from the article. Encourage the use of bullet points.
    • Reading Comprehension Questions: These questions are designed to help students read the article (and graphics) carefully. They can help the teacher assess how well students understand the content and help direct the need for follow-up discussions and/or activities. You’ll find the questions ordered in increasing difficulty.
  • Teaching Strategies:
    • Conversation Starters for “Cheesy Chemistry!” Before students dive into reading the article, it may be helpful to engage students with these questions/tasks:
      • Ask students to brainstorm different types of cheese and how they think the cheese is made.
      • Ask students to discuss the ingredients that may be found in cheese.
      • Ask students to explain how they think chemistry is involved in cheese making.
  • Further Exploration: After completing the provided activities, you can use the following lab, simulations and/or videos with your students to complement the concepts introduced in the article.
    • Lab: Get Cheesy: Make Curds and Mozzarella from Science Friday. Students test how the composition of milks (from different animal or plant sources, or different fat contents of cow's milk) affects curd formation. Students continue the activity by making mozzarella cheese, and an extension allows students to redesign the experiment.
    • Video: The 8 Steps of Cheese Making from Utah Education Network. The instructional video provides a nice visual, along with simple explanations of the process, and chemistry involved in making mozzarella cheese.