Classroom Resources: Energy & Thermodynamics


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  • Atomic Spectra, Identifying an Unknown, Atomic Theory, Emission Spectrum, Electromagnetic Spectrum, Emission Spectrum, Electrons | High School

    Lab: Emissions of Light

    In this lab, students will examine three different ways to excite electrons to produce visible light found in the electromagnetic spectrum. The students will then see that this visible light has a specific color, wavelength, and frequency. They will use their knowledge of the speed of light and plank's equation to examine the energy involved in the emission of light. Finally, the students will then apply their knowledge of the emission spectrum to how the composition of stars is determined.

  • Phase Changes, Exothermic & Endothermic, Temperature, Heat of Combustion, Intermolecular Forces, Molecular Motion | High School

    Lab: Investigating Condensation

    In this lab, students will explore the phase change of condensation and determine whether this process is endothermic or exothermic. Students will then investigate how water vapor condenses, what effect surrounding temperature has on the rate of condensation, and what is happening to the molecules when they condense.

  • Phase Changes, Heat, Molecular Motion, Freezing Point Depression | Middle School, High School

    Lab: Sweet, Salty and Cold as Ice

    In this lab, students conduct a micro-scale investigation to explore how various solutes affect the freezing point of water. Because of the small volume of liquid used, results are visible within minutes. Students observe what happens to the liquids as they are cooled and use their observations to infer what is going on at the particle level. They will use the results to explain the familiar phenomena of why we salt our roads and sidewalks in the winter and why freshwater lakes and ponds freeze over more easily than saltwater oceans in the winter.

  • Polarity, Molecular Structure, Heat, Radiation | High School

    Lesson Plan: Why Does Carbon Get Such a Bad Rap?

    In this lesson, students will use a climate change scenario to understand the role that polar bonds play in whether a molecule can be considered a greenhouse gas, while learning the particle nature of matter-energy interactions.

  • Physical Properties, Polymers, Interdisciplinary, Lab Safety, Polymers, Heat, Temperature, Chemical Properties | High School

    Activity: Ingenious: This Sandwich Will Save Your Life in an Arc Flash Video Questions

    In this activity, students will answer questions while watching the video, This Sandwich will Save your life in an Arc Flash, from the Ingenious series produced by the American Chemical Society. Each episode investigates a different topic related to how leading-edge chemistry is taking on the world’s most urgent issues to advance everyone’s quality of life and secure our shared future. This episode investigates the composite fabrics that protect lives of many people, like industrial workers, firefighters, and soldiers. When these workers encounter a fiery situation, they rely on protective clothing, designed using multiple layers of chemistry, to keep them safe.

  • Physical Properties, Polymers, Interdisciplinary, Lab Safety, Heat, Temperature, Molecular Structure , Chemical Properties | High School

    Video: Ingenious Video 3: This Sandwich Will Save Your Life in an Arc Flash

    It’s never fun when your clothes catch on fire. And while “stop, drop, and roll” may be a good idea sometimes, in more extreme cases, you need a better plan. Every day, industrial workers, firefighters, and soldiers risk fiery situations that might seem hard to imagine. In an arc flash event, for one, temperatures can jump to metal-melting levels in milliseconds. How can anyone possibly survive that? Well, take a tip from a club sandwich, because it’s all about the layers. The composite fabrics that protect life and limb in these situations rely on some incredible, multilayered chemistry, including the ability to quickly form a protective carbonaceous crust around the wearer.

  • Molecular Structure, Electromagnetic Spectrum, Chemical Bond, Molecular Structure | High School

    Activity: Ingenious: What Birds Know About Color that You Don't Video Questions

    In this activity, students will answer questions while watching the video, What Birds Know about Color that You Don’t, from the Ingenious series produced by the American Chemical Society. Each episode investigates a different topic related to how leading-edge chemistry is taking on the world’s most urgent issues to advance everyone’s quality of life and secure our shared future. This episode investigates structural color, its complexities as well as how it differs from pigments and dyes.

  • Molecular Structure, Electromagnetic Spectrum, Chemical Bond, Molecular Structure | High School

    Video: Ingenious Video 2: What Birds Know About Color that You Don't

    We’ve been using pigments and dyes for thousands of years, but they’re not the whole story when it comes to making color. “Structural” color occurs when tiny nanostructures interact with light waves, amplifying certain colors and canceling others. From brilliant bird feathers to butterfly wings, mole hairs to octopus skin, structural color is everywhere in the natural world. Researchers have tried for years to harness this incredible natural phenomenon in a useful way. Because these colors are so small and complex, and therefore hard to copy, their efforts have met with little success. But novel research using a computer model based in repeated random sampling — a so-called “Monte Carlo” model — is showing promise. Using this approach, scientists have been able to mimic the gorgeous blue of the mountain bluebird in a thin film of reflective beads, leapfrogging millennia of evolution.

  • Observations, Phase Changes, Physical Change, Chemical Change, Specific Heat, Temperature, Heat of Combustion, Intermolecular Forces, Heating Curve, Boiling Point, Heat of Vaporization | Middle School, High School

    Demonstration: Cooking an Egg in Chemistry Class

    In this demonstration, students will observe the very high latent heat of vaporization for water by boiling water over a Bunsen burner in a paper cup to cook a boiled egg. The discussion can be extended to incorporate intermolecular forces to explain the unusually high boiling point of water, as well as heat of vaporization and specific heat capacity.

  • Separating Mixtures, Concentration, Review, Culminating Project, Covalent Bonding, Ionic Bonding, Percent Composition, Le Châtelier's Principle, Calorimetry, Titrations, Indicators, Redox Reaction, Half Reactions, Beer's Law, Buffers, Enthalpy, Conductivity, Mixtures, Alloys, pH | High School

    Lesson Plan: AP Chemistry Experimental Evidence Review

    In this lesson, students will evaluate data from 16 simulated lab experiments that were designed to mirror the Recommended Labs from the College Board. Corresponding lab experiments and demonstration options have also been included for teacher reference.

  • Solubility, Le Châtelier's Principle, Entropy, Gibb's Free Energy , Equilibrium Constants, Enthalpy | High School

    Lesson Plan: Relationship Between Free Energy and the Equilibrium Constant

    In this lesson, students will explore the relationships between solubility and Keq (specifically Ksp), as well as Keq and ΔG°. First, a guided inquiry activity will introduce the relationship between standard free energy and equilibrium constant with the equation ΔG° = -RTlnKeq. Then data collection regarding solubility of potassium nitrate at various temperatures will lead to the calculation of Ksp and ΔGo for the dissolution reaction at those temperatures. Students will manipulate the equations ΔG° = -RTlnKeq and ΔG° = ΔH° - TΔS° to derive a linear relationship between 1/T and lnKeq, which will then be graphed to determine values for ΔH° and ΔS°.

  • Phase Changes, Heat, Specific Heat, Intermolecular Forces | High School

    Activity: "It's a Phase" Puzzles

    In this activity, students will complete either a crossword puzzle or a word search puzzle for common vocabulary terms related to the topics of phase changes and heat transfer. This activity provides an opportunity for students to increase their familiarity with the terms that they will be expected to use when learning about thermochemistry.

  • Calorimetry, Heat, Hess's Law, Enthalpy, Error Analysis | High School

    Lab: Utilizing Hess's Law

    In this lab, students will use a coffee cup calorimeter to collect data that will allow them to calculate ∆H for two reactions. The first reaction, between sodium bicarbonate and hydrochloric acid is endothermic. The second, between sodium carbonate and hydrochloric pressure, is exothermic. They will then use their experimental values and Hess’s Law to determine ∆H for the decomposition of sodium bicarbonate, compare their calculated value to the theoretical value, and calculate the percent error. This resource includes a prelab presentation and sample calculations.

  • Concentration, Electromagnetic Spectrum, Graphing | High School

    Lesson Plan: Determining the Time of Death

    In this lesson, students will perform a flame test on a sample of vitreous humor (liquid found in the eyeball) in a forensic investigation. They will determine which element from the sample is used to determine the time of death. Then they will engineer a simple spectrophotometer to quantify that element. Evaluating a fake sample of vitreous humor in their spectrophotometer will help them determine the time of death for a hypothetical cadaver.

  • Atomic Spectra, Electromagnetic Spectrum, Electrons | High School

    Lesson Plan: Atomic Spectra for At-Home Learning

    In this lesson, students first observe a flame test demonstration conducted by their teacher, and hypothesize about the identity of an unknown sample. Then they make connections in their understanding as they are tasked with building a prism, researching about wavelengths, and creating a model of electron energy levels.

  • Conservation of Mass, Atomic Mass, Subatomic Particles, Law of Conservation of Energy | High School

    Activity: Building a Nuclide

    In this activity, students will construct a model of a nuclide and use this model to investigate why the mass of the nuclide is less than the summative mass of the individual nucleons (protons and neutrons). Additionally, the constructed nuclide will be used to help students conceptualize and differentiate between key lesson terminology (mass defect, strong nuclear force, and nuclear binding energy).

  • Heat, Specific Heat, Temperature | High School

    Simulation: Understanding Specific Heat Capacity

    In this simulation, students will play the role of engineer. They will calculate the specific heat capacity of various materials to determine which ones meet stated criteria and then perform a cost analysis to determine which material to use.

  • Heat, Specific Heat, Temperature, Experimental Design | Middle School, High School

    Activity: Simulation Activity: Understanding Specific Heat

    In this simulation, students will play the role of engineer in deciding which materials are the best candidates for a building project. They will calculate the specific heat capacity of various building materials to determine which ones meet the criteria for building an energy efficient home. Students will also do a cost analysis to determine which material to use in their building project. On the student activity sheet, they will answer additional conceptual and numerical questions related to specific heat capacity.

  • Reaction Rate, Chemical Change, Chemical Change, Exothermic & Endothermic, Heat, Temperature | High School

    Lab: A Comparison of Two Chemical Reactions

    In this lab, students will perform two chemical reactions, one between acetic acid and sodium bicarbonate and the other between the citric acid and the sodium bicarbonate in an Alka-Seltzer tablet when dissolved in water. Both reactions will produce gas while reacting in a closed plastic sandwich bag, causing it to inflate. Students will observe the reactions and analyze the results in order to understand indicators of chemical changes, heat flow, and factors that affect reaction rates

  • Interdisciplinary, Electromagnetic Spectrum | Elementary School, Middle School, High School

    Activity: Animation Activity: Electromagnetic Spectrum

    In this animation, students will learn about the electromagnetic spectrum, with a focus on the visible spectrum. It addresses the relationship between color, wavelength, frequency, and energy of light waves, as well as how an object absorbs and reflects certain wavelengths of light to contribute to the color we perceive.

  • Entropy, Gibb's Free Energy , Enthalpy | High School

    Lab: Thermodynamics Escape Room

    In this lab, students are presented with an escape room scenario that challenges them to complete three tasks in order to escape from an old, mysterious Gothic house. Students are given access to a small assortment of chemicals, and standard lab equipment. They must determine which chemicals and equipment will help them to light a tap light without touching it, free a key from a block of ice without using a conventional heat source, and free a lock that is buried in a pile of glue.

  • Interdisciplinary, Electromagnetic Spectrum | Elementary School, Middle School, High School

    Animation: The Electromagnetic Spectrum Animation

    In this animation, students will learn about the electromagnetic spectrum, with a focus on the visible spectrum. It addresses the relationship between color, wavelength, frequency, and energy of light waves, as well as how an object absorbs and reflects certain wavelengths of light to contribute to the color we perceive.

  • Exothermic & Endothermic, Heat, Temperature | Middle School, High School

    Lab: Energy Transfer Investigation

    In this lab, students will experience several examples of energy transfer. They will analyze their observations and interpret their results in an attempt to explain why each transfer took place.

  • Identifying an Unknown, Electromagnetic Spectrum | Middle School, High School

    Activity: Color Matching Paint Video Questions

    In this activity, students will watch a video and answer related questions about how technology, specifically focusing on spectrophotometry, can be used for paint matching. During the video, students will learn how the spectrophotometer interacts with the spectrum of visible light in order to match or reproduce specific paint colors.

  • Electricity, Polymers, Molecular Structure, Heat, Temperature, Molecular Geometry, Electronegativity | Middle School, High School

    Activity: Future of Paint Video Questions

    In this activity, students will watch a video and answer related questions about the fascinating and innovative scientific advancements of paint. During the video, Students will learn how the molecular components in paint are helping to evolve in the world around them.

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