Kitchen Chemistry - High School


This collection of AACT resources highlights all of the hands-on physical science and chemistry activities that are available in our high school library, and require only tools and/or materials that are typically found in the kitchen. All of these resources include a list of required materials and detailed background information for teachers, or other adults, who are supervising the activity. There are also student activity sheets, and many include an answer key. There is an equipment list and a table of conversion factors available in the sidebar.
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    Activity

    Candy Isotopes & Atomic Mass

    In this activity, students will learn about isotopes and be introduced to basic average atomic mass calculations. They will use simple numbers and M&M candies to model ratios that approximate real world atomic mass values on the periodic table.

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    Lab

    Sweet Model of the Atom

    In this lesson, students will use different candies to represent electrons, protons, and neutrons to gain a better understanding of atoms, ions, and isotopes.

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    Lab

    Can it Float?

    In this lab, students will investigate the relationships between mass, volume, density and buoyancy in common objects. Students will be tasked with determining the volume of a variety of objects as well as interpreting the meaning of their buoyancy in water.

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    Lab

    Little Miss Muffet

    In this lab, students make homemade glue from milk and compare it to commercial glue.

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    Lab

    Magic Milk

    In this lab, students will investigate the addition of detergent to a mixture of whole milk and food coloring. Students will attempt to explain the cause of their observations. Also, students will have the opportunity to manipulate the experiment and determine how other variables may impact the results.

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    Demonstration

    Sinking Soda

    In this teacher led demonstration, students will compare their observations when unopened cans of diet and regular soda are placed in a large container of water. They will use their observations to help differentiate between several fundamental chemistry concepts: mass, volume, and density.

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    Demonstration

    What Causes Yeast to Ferment?

    In this lesson, students will observe and verify molasses sugar content as a result of its ability to ferment yeast. They will compare how molasses allows yeast to ferment with other sugar solutions as well as a sugar-free solution.

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    Demonstration

    What is Temperature?

    In this demonstration, students will observe food dye mixing with water at different temperatures.

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    What Makes Water So Special?

    In this activity, students will become familiar with the special properties of water by completing several activities that investigate the following physical properties: cohesion, adhesion, surface tension, and capillary action.

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    Activity

    Equilibrium Introduction

    In this activity, students perform a hands-on activity that models chemical equilibrium based on the article Equilibrium: A Teaching/Learning Activity by Audrey H. Wilson from the Journal of Chemical Education, Vol. 75, No. 9, September 1998.

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    Demonstration

    Diffusion of Particles

    In this demonstration students will experience diffusion, and then model the process of diffusion of microwave popcorn “flavor particles” in a room filled with still air.

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    Demonstration

    EGGsperiment

    In this demonstration, students will learn how temperature change affects air pressure, while observing an egg getting sucked into a bottle without being touched!

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    Demonstration

    Inflate and Shrink Wrap a Student

    In this demonstration, students will observe two situations. First a student will be lifted off the desk as other students blow air into straws connected to a garbage bag in order to inflate it. Secondly, the class will observe a garbage bag shrink wrapping a student as a vacuum removes air from the bag.

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    Lab

    Mega Marshmallows

    In this lab, students will investigate the Kinetic Molecular Theory and particle motion while experimenting with a marshmallow. Students will observe how an increase in kinetic energy will cause particles to increase in motion. This concept will be extended into a discussion about additional real world thermal expansion examples.

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    Demonstration

    Comparing Rates of Reaction

    In this demonstration, students observe the effect of temperature, concentration, and particle size on the rate of a chemical reaction.

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    Lab

    Ionic vs. Covalent Compounds

    In this lab, students will compare two seemingly similar substances, salt and sugar. Through melting a sample of each substance and analyze of their chemical composition, students will draw conclusions regarding ionic and covalent compounds.

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    Activity

    Calculating Moles in Daily Life

    In this activity, students will use dimensional analysis to complete calculations and conversions for the number of moles, atoms, and molecules in several everyday household items using collected data.

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    Activity

    Farfalle Stoichiometry

    In this activity, students will use a hands-on manipulative (pasta) to represent the stoichiometric relationships in a compound and in a balanced equation. They will determine the limiting reactant for a given amount of two reactants and they will identify the excess reactant. In the extension exercise, students will balance the equations that are used in the production of ammonia, a common chemical fertilizer.

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    Lab

    Limiting Reactant Candy

    In this lab, students will understand what is meant by the term, "limiting reactant" and be able to identify the limiting reactant in a non-chemistry situation.

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    Demonstration

    Understanding Limiting Reactants

    In this demonstration, the teacher will perform a series of reactions between acetic acid (vinegar) and varying amounts of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) in order to inflate several balloons. Students will observe the reactions and analyze the quantities of reactants used as well as the results in order to understand the concept of limiting reactants.

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    Demonstration

    Crystallization of Sugar

    In this demonstration, students will observe how to make rock candy in order to understand how sugar crystals form. They will be able to explain what a supersaturated solution is and how it is relevant to sugar crystallization.

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    Lab

    Effect of Salt Concentration on Plants

    In this lab, students will observe how salt concentration can affect the structure of a potato tuber.

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    Lab

    Freezing Ice Cream

    In this lab, students will investigate changing states of matter, chemical reactions, and the properties of ice and salt while creating their own ice cream.

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    Activity

    Particle Level Molarity

    In this activity, students are introduced to molarity at the particle level. Students will activate their prior knowledge by demonstrating their understanding of concentration by preparing several Kool-Aid drinks, and then applying that information at the particle level to various models.

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    Lab

    Winter Crystals

    In this lab, students will create a supersaturated solution by dissolving borax in boiling water. They will create a snowflake using pipe cleaner to suspend in the solution, which will serve as a nucleation site for crystallization as the solution cools and remains undistributed overnight. This lab gives students an opportunity to experience the exciting crystallization process and become more familiar with an engaging chemistry spectacle!

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    Lab

    Can a Cabbage Distinguish an Acid from a Base?

    In this lab, students will first determine what colors the cabbage indicator turns in acidic, neutral, and basic solutions.

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    Activity

    Beanium Isotopes

    In this activity, students will determine the average atomic mass of a sample of an imaginary element called Beanium.

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    Simulation

    Density

    The simulation for the September 2015 issue allows students to investigate the effect of changing variables on both the volume and the density of a solid, a liquid, and a gas sample. Students will analyze the different states of matter at the particle level as well as quantitatively.

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    Demonstration

    Fish Tank Carbon Dioxide

    In this demonstration, students watch as a reaction between baking soda and vinegar produces carbon dioxide, which then causes lit candles to extinguish.

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    Lab

    Greenhouse Gas Simulation

    In this lab, students will create two simulations of the Earth’s atmosphere. They will compare a control model with a one that has an increased presence of carbon dioxide gas in order to analyze how this effects temperature. They will also complete research in order to learn more about the makeup of the Earth’s atmosphere.

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    Activity

    How Do We Clean Up An Oil Spill

    In this activity, students simulate an oil spill and test different materials’ ability to “clean” the oil spill.

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    Activity

    Molecular Spaghetti

    In this activity, students will discover how the entanglement in cooked spaghetti depends on the length of the spaghetti strands and relate this discovery to polymeric materials.

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    Lab

    Salad Dressing Science: Emulsions

    In this lab, students mix polar and nonpolar substances and then add various emulsifiers to encourage the mixing of the two substances. They use ingredients in salad dressing to relate science to real life scenarios.

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    Lab

    The Lovely Lava Lamp

    In this lab, students add food coloring to a mixture of oil and water and record their observations. They then add an Alka-Seltzer tablet, record their observations and answer a series of questions about the chemical and physical changes that took place.

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    Activity

    Tie Dye

    In this activity, students make tie-dye shirts and complete a worksheet about a reading from ChemMatters about how dyes work. It gives students the opportunity to apply chemistry to everyday life.

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    Lab

    Plop, Fizz: How to Affect the Rate of a Chemical Reaction

    In this lesson, students will react Alka-Seltzer tablets with water. By varying the temperature of the water, particle size of the Alka-Seltzer, and concentration of the Alka-Seltzer they can see the effect on the rate and strength of the chemical reaction.

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    Demonstration

    Simple Kinetics

    In this demonstration, students will see that different food dyes react with bleach at different rates.

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    Lab

    Twizzler Half-Life

    In this lab, students will better understand the concept of half-lives.

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    Activity

    Bring Me A Mole

    In this lab, students take an abstract concept, the mole, and turn it into a real measurable concept.

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    Demonstration

    Comparing Gas Density

    In this demonstration, students will observe a reaction between baking soda and vinegar in the presence of a variety of different heights of lit candles. The initial environment has plenty of oxygen present in order to sustain the candle’s flame; however the reaction will produce carbon dioxide which will cause the lit candles to extinguish in order of height. Students will analyze and compare the presence of the gases in the container and make determinations about the densities of each.

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    Demonstration

    Density Tubes

    In this demonstration, students will have the opportunity to observe and analyze the density of a solution. Students will interpret their observations as they compare the density of the solution with plastic components.

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    Lab

    Moles of Food

    In this lab, students will analyze the nutrition label of a variety of foods to find the amount of specific elements in each serving. Students are asked to evaluate and compare the data in a series of questions, in order to convert the values to moles. This lab gives students the opportunity to see the connection between the chemistry mole concept and everyday foods.

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    Activity

    Popcorn Counting Unit

    In this activity, students develop a new method of counting objects, called the PCU, and compare this method to the concept of the mole.

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    Activity

    Cookie Stoichiometry

    In this activity, students use a chocolate chip cookie recipe to answer questions related to stoichiometry, percent yield, and limiting reactants.

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    Demonstration

    Fire Extinguisher

    In this demonstration, students will observe a chemical reaction, and see how the product can be used to extinguish a fire.

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    Demonstration

    Inflating a Balloon with Chemistry

    In this demonstration, the teacher will perform a reaction between acetic acid (vinegar) and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) in order to inflate a balloon and to introduce the concept of a chemical reaction to students. Students will observe the reaction, and identify indicators of chemical change as well as discuss the different types of matter that are involved.

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    Demonstration

    Introducing Limiting Reactants

    In this demonstration, the teacher will perform a series of reactions between acetic acid--vinegar-- and varying amounts of sodium bicarbonate --baking soda--in order to inflate several Ziploc bags. Students will observe the reactions and analyze the quantities of reactants used as well as the results in order to understand the concept of limiting reactants. Students will also determine if the reaction is an endothermic or exothermic process based on their observations.

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    Activity

    S'more Stoichiometry

    In this activity, students determine the number of graham crackers and chocolate pieces required to complete a “reaction” with a given quantity of marshmallows (the limiting reactant). They then use the same thought process with a problem involving a real chemical reaction.

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    Activity

    Sweet Stoichiometry Reactions

    In this activity, students will use candy to investigate stoichiometry and mole-gram relationships in chemical equations, but could also be used to introduce the concept of limiting reactants.

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    Lab

    Chemistree

    In this lab, students will prepare a solution to observe a physical change.

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    Lab

    Molarity of a Solution

    In this lab, students calculate concentrations of and perform dilutions of Kool-Aid and juice solutions.