In this lesson, students will learn about the chemistry behind baking powder through reading about its history and development over time. There are a series of activities to help promote literacy in the science classroom related to the reading. This lesson could be easily used as plans 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-PS1-1: Use the periodic table as a model to predict the relative properties of elements based on the patterns of electrons in the outermost energy level of atoms.
  • Scientific and Engineering Practices:
    • Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
    • Engaging in Argument from Evidence
    • Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information


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

  • Understand that “rising” in baking is because of carbon dioxide gas.
  • Know the difference between ionic and covalent compounds.

Chemistry Topics

This lesson supports students’ understanding of:

  • Ionic Compounds
  • Covalent Compounds
  • Naming Compounds
  • Molecular Structure
  • Functional Groups
  • Polyatomic Ions
  • History


Teacher Preparation: 10 minutes
Lesson: Approximate times for students to complete each activity in the lesson:

  • Reading: 20 minutes
  • Map exercise: 20-30 minutes
  • Practice in chemistry: 30-40 minutes
  • Flow chart: 15-20 minutes
  • Venn diagram: 15-20 minutes
  • Exploring acid structures: 10-15 minutes


  • Reading document and desired handouts to accompany the reading.


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

Teacher Notes


Lesson Overview:

The lesson includes multiple components as outlined individually below. The Reading 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:

  • Reading: Development of Baking Powder
  • Activity: Map Activity
    • Using an unlabeled map, students populate it with important locations to gather the global nature of the development of baking powder.
  • Activity: Practice in Chemistry
    • In the reading, students learned about chemical compounds’ real-life applications. In this exercise, they practice naming compounds and comparing chemical names with “real-life” names of compounds. Students practice writing ionic compounds from symbols and name both ionic and covalent compounds. There is a challenge problem involving stoichiometry and the chemical reaction of baking powder.
  • Activity: Flow Chart
    • Students are presented information in a slightly different format and answer questions about the development of baking powder using this information and/or the information presented in the article.
  • Activity: Using Venn Diagrams
    • Given some key points about the three chemists featured in the article, students are tasked with entering information into a Venn diagram. As you’ll note in the answer key, there really is no one correct answer for this activity. Students can analyze and synthesize information at various levels to draw their own conclusions. This may be a good think-pair-share activity to encourage dialog between students.
  • Activity: Exploring Acid Structures: Vinegar, Sour Milk, and MSG
    • Students examine structures of acetic acid, lactic acid and MSG and search for similarities and differences