Classroom Resources: Chemistry Basics


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  • Introduction, Elements, History, Periodic Table, Atoms, Model of the Atom, Atomic Theory, Matter | Middle School, High School

    Animation: Atoms: The Building Blocks of Matter Animation

    In this animation, students will be introduced to the idea that everything is made of atoms, and that since atoms are so extremely small, even small objects contain vast numbers of atoms. They will see several examples to illustrate this point. Then they will be given a brief overview of the evolution of how people thought about atoms from the ancient Greeks through Dalton.

  • Interdisciplinary | Elementary School, Middle School

    Activity: Discovering Entomology

    In this activity, students will first work in small groups on a card sort aimed to activate their prior knowledge about insects and attempt to match the name of several common insects with a corresponding scientific fact. Students will then watch a short video while answering several questions to discover more about the field of entomology.

  • Interdisciplinary, Graphing | Middle School, High School

    Simulation: Graphing

    In this simulation, students will be introduced to good graphing techniques and how to interpret data presented in a graph. They are introduced to the TAILS acronym (Title, Axes, Intervals, Labels, Scale) to help them remember how to set up a graph and the concepts of line of best fit, positive and negative correlation, and interpolating and extrapolating. Then students complete a six-question quiz on these topics.

  • Elements, Periodic Table | Middle School, High School

    Activity: Chemistry Kakuro Puzzle

    In this activity, students will use both math and logic to solve a chemistry themed kakuro puzzle. This puzzle differs slightly from a traditional kakuro by first requiring students to use a periodic table to find the atomic number for each element symbol appearing in the puzzle. Using the atomic numbers as starting clues, students then fill-in the empty squares with numbers 1-9 that sum to the value of the clue, but without reusing any digits. This activity is a fun challenge for students, and provides the opportunity to strengthen logic and reasoning skills.

  • Interdisciplinary, Graphing | Middle School, High School

    Activity: Simulation Activity: Graphing

    In this activity, students will use a simulation to learn good graphing techniques, as well as how to interpret data presented in a graph. They will take a quiz in the simulation, and then have an opportunity to put their graphing skills to work and generate their own graph using sample data.

  • Observations, Density, Inferences | Elementary School, Middle School, High School

    Activity: Animation Activity: Density

    In this activity, students will use an animation to visualize density on the particulate level. There are opportunities to make qualitative and quantitative comparisons between substances.

  • Elements, Periodic Table, Model of the Atom, Review, Atomic Mass, Subatomic Particles | Elementary School, Middle School

    Activity: Periodic Table Challenge Game

    In this activity, students will play an online game that quizzes their knowledge about the atomic structure of the first 20 elements on the periodic table. Students will be asked to identify different elements based on information related to subatomic particles, placement on the periodic table or from a provided Bohr model. This game has several options for students to choose from, and can be used to review content, or as a formative assessment.

  • Physical Properties, Atoms, Model of the Atom, Electron Configuration, Valence Electrons, Subatomic Particles, Lewis Dot Diagrams, Electrons | Middle School, High School

    Project: Atomic Holiday Ornaments

    In this project, students will design an atomic holiday ornament for a chosen element, along with a certificate of authenticity to display on a “Chemis-tree”. Students will also have the opportunity to vote on the ornaments created by their classmates.

  • Review | Middle School, High School

    Activity: Vocabulary Learning Made Simple

    In this activity, students write definitions for vocabulary words using only the 1000 most common English words. Then students interact with the simplified definitions in order to try to guess the vocabulary words correctly.

  • Elements, Periodic Table, Atoms, Model of the Atom, Isotopes, Atomic Mass, Subatomic Particles, Electrons | Middle School, High School

    Lesson Plan: Acting Out Atomic Structure

    In this lesson, students will model the location and behavior of protons, neutrons, and electrons that make up the structure of atoms, focusing on the first 18 elements on the periodic table. Students will model different elements first by adding protons and neutrons (colored balls) to make the nucleus (a basket). Then, the students themselves will represent the electrons that are always moving around the nucleus yet remaining within their designated energy level. This activity is easiest to complete outside or in a large open room to allow for enough room.

  • Observations, Electricity, Atoms, Model of the Atom, Subatomic Particles, Electron Transfer, Electrons, Electrons | Middle School, High School

    Lesson Plan: Understanding Static Electricity

    In this lesson, students will complete a series of activities to explore how the imbalance of charges in materials creates static electricity and how those materials interact with others around them. They will describe the relationship between atomic structure, specifically the role of protons and electrons, and static electricity.

  • Physical Properties, Lab Safety, Chemical Properties | Middle School, High School

    Activity: ACS Chemical Safety Video Questions

    In this activity, students will learn about safety, a core value of chemistry, through watching related videos produced by the American Chemical Society, Students will complete guided notes and questions during the activity. This chemical safety video series includes five videos: Safety Mindset, Safety Data Sheets, How to Dress for the Lab, and PPE, Preparing for Emergencies, and RAMP (Recognize hazards, Assess risks, Minimize risks, Prepare for emergencies).

  • Reaction Rate, Chemical Change, Reaction Rate, Catalysts, Chemical Change, Experimental Design | Middle School

    Lesson Plan: Investigating Fast and Slow Reaction Rates

    In this lesson, students will review the characteristics of chemical changes and then use a catalyst and an inhibitor to explore the reaction rate of the oxidation of iron.

  • Separating Mixtures, Physical Properties, Mixtures | Middle School, High School

    Lab: Mixture Separation Challenge

    In this lab, students investigate the composition of a given mixture. Using their content knowledge and a variety of provided materials, students are tasked with separating the mixture into its individual components.

  • Lab Safety | Middle School, High School

    Demonstration: Why Do We Have to Wear Goggles?

    In this simple demonstration, students will observe a reaction between an acid and an egg white and learn why is important to wear safety goggles in the lab. The reaction is similar to the damage that can be done to your eye if acid comes in contact with it.

  • Observations, Physical Change, Chemical Change | Elementary School, Middle School

    Lab: Comparing Physical and Chemical Changes

    In this lab, students will analyze different scenarios in order to determine if a physical or chemical change has occurred. This lab experience will provide students with the opportunity to record observations, as well as improve their ability to differentiate between physical and chemical changes.

  • Observations, Introduction, Lab Safety, Scientific Method, Graphing, Experimental Design | Middle School, High School

    Lab: Applying the Scientific Method to Stain Removal

    In this lab, students will explore the real scientific process by designing an experiment to solve a problem. Students will learn about basic lab equipment, safety, and the scientific process of trial and error while solving a common problem: What color of food coloring requires the most bleach to remove?

  • Physical Properties, Elements, Intermolecular Forces, Covalent Bonding, Ionic Bonding, Polymers, Matter, Chemical Properties | Middle School, High School

    Project: The Chemistry of Toys

    In this project, students will study the chemistry behind a toy or novelty item of their choosing. They will look at the parts that make up their item and determine what materials each part is made of; the types of atoms, molecules, and bonds present in those materials; and their physical and chemical properties.

  • Observations, Lab Safety, Scientific Method, Graphing, Experimental Design | Middle School, High School

    Lab: Mentos and Soda Investigations

    In this lab, students will design their own experiment in which they manipulate a variable that relates to Mentos and soda. Students will generate a testable question, design an experiment, collect and analyze the data and present their findings.

  • 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.

  • Observations, Solubility, Physical Change, Solute & Solvent, Precipitate, Identifying an Unknown, Chemical Change, Mixtures, Graphing, Error Analysis | Middle School, High School

    Lab: Chemicals, Chromatography, and Crime!

    In this lab, students will test “evidence” that has been collected from a crime scene. In order to determine if the victim was poisoned, students will perform a solubility and crystallization test on an unknown powder. Then, students will attempt to identify the culprit by using paper chromatography to analyze the lipstick from the potential criminals.

  • Observations, Scientific Method, Experimental Design | Elementary School, Middle School

    Lab: Introducing the Scientific Method

    In this lab, students will be introduced to and become familiar with the scientific method. They will apply their understanding by following the steps of the scientific method while investigating the amount of fat in potato chips.

  • Inferences, History, Model of the Atom, Atomic Theory, Atomic Radius | Middle School, High School

    Lesson Plan: Indirectly Measuring the Atom

    In this lesson, students will try to determine the radius of one circle and the total area of multiple circles on a piece of paper by indirect measurement. They will relate this to the experiment done by Ernest Rutherford in which he bombarded a gold foil with Alpha particles.

  • Elements, Periodic Table | Elementary School, Middle School, High School

    Activity: Element Matching Puzzle

    In this activity, students will become more familiar with select elements from the periodic table. They will use the periodic table to determine the symbol for given elements, and recall any prior knowledge about each element. Then students will be challenged to solve a puzzle by organizing a set of cards that contain jumbled information about these elements. After all of the cards have been correctly organized, a secret message can be found.

  • History, Interdisciplinary | Middle School, High 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.

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