Classroom Resources: Chemistry Basics


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  • Observations, Chemical Change, Acid Base Reactions, Balancing Equations, Activity Series, Chemical Change, Electron Transfer, Electrons, Predicting Products | High School

    Activity: Simulation Activity: Metals in Aqueous Solutions

    In this activity, students will run simulated tests of various metals in aqueous solutions to determine the relative reactivity of these metals. A total of eight metals will be observed in various combinations with the corresponding metal nitrate solutions and hydrochloric acid. Students will interpret the data collected to construct an activity series of the elements used in this simulation.

  • Molecular Structure, Chemical Properties | High School

    Lesson Plan: The Chemistry of Vaccines

    In this lesson, students will read the article, Can a Vaccine End the Pandemic? by Wynne Parry from the December 2020 edition of ChemMatters magazine. Students will answer questions based on the content of the article and also have the opportunity to do additional research. Finally, they will create a podcast discussing the chemistry of vaccines.

  • Accuracy | High School

    Activity: Football Accuracy

    In this activity, students will analyze data collected from a football tryout. Using their knowledge of the terms accuracy and precision, students will interpret the data, and apply their understanding to several questions.

  • Elements, History, Periodic Table | High School

    Activity: Periodic Table Trivia Crossword Puzzle

    In this activity, students will be presented with trivia questions related to the periodic table of elements. Many of the questions can be answered by examining a periodic table, while others are related to specific elements and may require additional research. Students will complete a crossword puzzle as they answer each of the questions.

  • Interdisciplinary, History | High School, Middle School

    Activity: Spellbound Episode 8 Helen Murray Free Video Questions

    In this activity, students will answer questions while watching a video from the Spellbound series produced by ACS. Each episode focuses on a different notable scientist, recounting how their interest in science was sparked in their childhood and how they went on to make great contributions to the scientific community. This eighth episode focuses on the childhood of Helen Murray Free, a former ACS president and pioneering woman in chemistry who developed self-testing diagnostic strips for diabetes and other diseases.

  • Interdisciplinary, History | High School, Middle School

    Activity: Spellbound Episode 7 Peter Agre Video Questions

    In this activity, students will answer questions while watching a video from the Spellbound series produced by ACS. Each episode focuses on a different notable scientist, recounting how their interest in science was sparked in their childhood and how they went on to make great contributions to the scientific community. This seventh episode focuses on the childhood of Peter Agre, who won the 2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and is noted for his work in the study of malaria, as well as scientific diplomacy and policy.

  • 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.

  • Density, Physical Properties, Inferences, Covalent Bonding, Ionic Bonding, Chemical Properties | High School

    Lesson Plan: Murder Mystery

    In this lesson, students will use their knowledge of the properties of ionic and covalent compounds to examine the evidence from a crime scene. Students will conduct several tests, and compare their data with known data in a collection of SDS documents. Using the evidence from their investigation, students will write a claim, evidence and reasoning statement detailing whether the victim was murdered or died accidentally.

  • Introduction, Interdisciplinary, Dimensional Analysis, Experimental Design | High School

    Project: Food Chemistry Infographic

    In this project, students will research the chemical content and nutritional value of their favorite holiday foods, presenting their findings in an infographic. They will also include a recipe, which they will convert to metric units to practice dimensional analysis. As an extension to explore experimental design, they could alter one aspect of the recipe and observe how that change affects the final product.

  • Lab Safety | High School, Middle School

    Activity: Race to Safe

    In this activity, students will be engaged in a kinesthetic activity to teach laboratory safety. They will be prompted with different laboratory safety and equipment scenarios and asked to demonstrate the correct safety protocols to follow.

  • Interdisciplinary, Chemical Change, Molecular Structure , Functional Groups, Experimental Design | High School

    Lab: Designing Biomimetic Songbird Preen Oil from Waste Cooking Oil

    In this guided-inquiry lab, students will design and test a procedure reacting waste cooking oil in a blue cheese slurry to create a substance that mimics songbird preen oil, which is both antibacterial and hydrophobic. Students will convert the fatty acids in waste oil to methyl ketones, thought to be the principal antibacterial component of preen oil, using the P. roqueforti mold found in blue cheese. Students will expand their knowledge of biomimicry, inherent properties of preen oil, and chemical synthesis by applying the principles of green chemistry. They will also assess their own process through higher-order problem solving and building on their scientific research skills.

  • Polyatomic Ions, Ionic Bonding | High School

    Activity: Common Ion Memory Game

    In this activity, students will play a modified version of the classic Memory Game in order to help identify common ions by name and symbol. This activity provides an opportunity for students to increase their familiarity with the names and formulas of common ions that they will be expected to properly use when they begin writing chemical formulas and reactions.

  • Interdisciplinary, Lab Safety, Identifying an Unknown, Molecular Structure | High School

    Lesson Plan: How Modern Instrumentation Revolutionized the Poison Game

    In this lesson, students are introduced to the world of Forensic Chemistry using the prologue of Deborah Blum’s The Poisoner’s Handbook. Discussion revolves around why murder by poison was so prevalent during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and why it is so rare today.  Students create their own Safety Data Sheet on a poison of choice, and learn about how mass spectroscopy has helped revolutionize the modern analysis of toxins. 

  • Identifying an Unknown, Acid Base Reactions, Titrations, Molarity | High School

    Lesson Plan: Investigating a Suspicious Drowning with Titrations

    In this lesson, students take on the role of a forensic chemist who is tasked with investigating a suspicious drowning incident. Students will conduct a series of titrations on an evidence sample of water collected from the victim's lungs as well as on several water samples from local water sources (lakes, rivers, wells, etc.) Based on their findings, they will determine where the victim actually drowned.

  • Density, Physical Properties, Identifying an Unknown | High School, Middle School

    Lesson Plan: The Shattered Glass Mystery

    In this lesson, students will take on the role of a Forensic Scientist to help solve a hit and run investigation. They will learn how physical properties of matter, such as density and refractive index, can be used to help identify evidence samples such as glass.

  • Separating Mixtures, Density, Polymers, Polymers | High School

    Activity: Identifying Plastics with Density Data

    In this activity, students will familiarize themselves with different types of plastics. Using data analysis, students will determine how to use the density values of a variety of plastic samples in order to separate a specific sample from a mixture.

  • Density, Polymers, Polymers, Chemical Properties | High School

    Lab: The Big Six Plastics

    In this lab students will use data and chemical tests to better understand different types of plastics and their properties. Ultimately, students can choose the best plastic material to construct a compost bin.

  • Separating Mixtures, Mixtures, Solubility, Intermolecular Forces | High School

    Lab: Using Paper Chromatography to Separate the Pigments Found in Ink

    In this lab, students will separate the component pigments of a water-soluble black marker using paper chromatography.

  • 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, Experimental Design | High School, Middle 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.

  • Introduction, Review, Lab Safety | High School, Middle School

    Activity: Laboratory Equipment Bingo

    In this activity, students will play a Bingo game, crossing out the names of laboratory equipment on their Bingo card that corresponds to the pictures of equipment shown by the teacher. This will help students to identify common equipment found in a chemistry lab.

  • Review, Culminating Project, Molecular Structure | High School, Middle School

    Activity: Online Meeting Scavenger Hunt

    In this activity, students will work in teams on a virtual meeting platform to find as many objects as possible from a comprehensive scavenger hunt list within their homes during a given timeframe. The items on the list provided in this activity are related to organic chemistry topics, however the list can be easily modified for use with many chemistry topics.

  • Introduction, Lab Safety | High School, Middle School

    Lesson Plan: ACS Chemical Safety Video: RAMP

    In this lesson, students will learn about a simple yet powerful tool for protecting themselves and their classmates in the lab, RAMP. It stands for: Recognize hazards; Assess risks; Minimize risks and Prepare for emergencies. Using a video, and multiple activities, students will become more knowledgeable and better prepared to assess risks and identify hazards in the lab.

  • Periodic Table, Half Lives, Subatomic Particles, Radioactive Isotopes | High School

    Activity: Why are Some Isotopes Radioactive?

    In this activity, students use periodic trends and data to make predictions about what makes an isotope radioactive. They will then verify or refine their predictions using a PhET simulation.

  • Observations, Inferences, Molecular Motion, Temperature | Elementary School

    Demonstration: How Does Temperature Affect Water Molecules?

    In this demonstration, students will observe models to better understand that temperature affects molecular movements.

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