Classroom Resources: Chemistry Basics


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  • Chemical Change, Interdisciplinary, History | Middle School, High School

    Video: Spellbound Episode 3—A Yellow Sweater: Bassam Shakhashiri, Ph.D.

    Produced for the 2011 International Year of Chemistry, the video series Spellbound, tells the story of scientists whose childhood curiosity about everyday things helped them launch careers in the lab, win Nobel Prizes and make other achievements. Their early childhood experiences may encourage young people into careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. This episode features Bassam Shakhashiri, Ph.D.

  • Chemical Change, History | Middle School, High School

    Activity: Spellbound Episode 3 Bassam Shakhashiri 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 third episode focuses on the childhood of Bassam Shakhashiri, whose early interest in colors led him to study chemistry and become a passionate chemistry educator and ambassador.

  • Chemical Change, Interdisciplinary, History | Middle School, High School

    Activity: Spellbound Episode 1 Ahmed Zewail 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 first episode focuses on the childhood of Ahmed Zewail, who went on to become the 1999 Chemistry Nobel Laureate.

  • Observations, Chemical Change, Inferences, Scientific Method, Experimental Design | Middle School, High School

    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.

  • Observations, Chemical Change, Physical Change, Molecular Structure | Middle School, High School

    Lab: Determining a Chemical or Physical Change

    In this lab, students will follow a laboratory procedure that instructs them how to heat a small sample of copper(II) sulfate pentahydrate. Students will make observations in order to determine if a chemical or physical change occurs.

  • Density, Physical Properties, Chemical Change, Physical Change, Chemical Properties, Graphing, Alloys | Middle School, High School

    Lesson Plan: The Captivating Chemistry of Coins

    In this lesson, students will develop a better understanding of physical and chemical properties of matter by comparing the composition of different pennies. This is done by determining the density of different pennies which will be compared to the density of different metals.

  • Physical Properties, Chemical Change, Physical Change, Chemical Properties | Elementary School, Middle School, High School

    Activity: A Physical vs. Chemical Challenge

    In this activity, students will first complete a card sort to best categorize examples of change as physical or chemical change. Then they will compete in teams to identify whether given situations represent a physical change or a chemical change, or a physical or a chemical property.

  • Observations, Physical Properties, Chemical Change, Physical Change, Dimensional Analysis, Measurements, Matter, Chemical Properties, Mixtures | Middle School, High School

    Activity: Cupcake Conversions, Bench to Bakery

    This activity will help to reinforce the importance of scientific measurement and apply it to the introduction of chemical reactions. Using an example of baking a single batch of cupcakes, students will plan for a larger production scale in a commercial bakery. This will help to introduce the idea of producing a reaction at the lab bench and converting it to mass production. In addition this activity investigates how chemistry is used in everyday life and challenges students to consider potentials errors that may occur when completing chemical reactions in the kitchen.

  • Density, Chemical Change, Elements, Physical Change, Periodic Table, Review, Matter, Mixtures | Elementary School, Middle School

    Activity: Chemistry Basics: Crossword Puzzle

    In this activity, students will complete a crossword puzzle by solving each clue that is related to a basic, yet fundamental chemistry topic.

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

    Lab: It's Alive

    In this lab, students will practice making and recording observations, analyzing data, and identifying chemical change. They will transfer dirt, germs, and bacteria from their hands onto a piece of white bread and observe the changes that occur during the following days. Students will analyze the results, make comparisons between clean and dirty samples of bread and learn about the importance of hand-cleaning.

  • Observations, Physical Properties, Chemical Change, Physical Change, Polymers, Scientific Method, Chemical Properties, Mixtures | Middle School

    Lesson Plan: Exploring the Chemistry of Oil and Acrylic Paints

    In this lesson students learn about the chemistry of oil and acrylic paints. They make their own paint, and complete an experiment to collect qualitative and quantitative data through a series of tests. Students will also apply the concepts of physical and chemical change to the results of this controlled experiment.

  • Physical Properties, Chemical Change, Physical Change, Chemical Change | Middle School

    Lab: Little Miss Muffet Investigation

    In this lab, students will work in cooperative groups to conduct a chemical reaction by mixing vinegar with milk. This reaction will cause the curds to precipitate and separate from the liquid whey. The lesson can be extended by experimenting with different types of milk or by using different acids.

  • Chemical Change, Physical Change, Conservation of Mass, Chemical Change | Middle School, High School

    Lab: Chemistry in a Bag

    In this lab, students will observe and identify chemical and physical changes contained inside a plastic bag. Students will also use this lab to understand the Law of Conservation of Mass.

  • Chemical Change, Melting Point, Phase Changes, Physical Change, Chemical Change, Scientific Method | Middle School

    Lab: S'more Change Please

    In this lab, students will be able to demonstrate the difference between a physical and chemical change by making ooey, gooey, yet yummy S’mores!

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

    Lab: Chemical and Physical Changes

    In this lab, students will observe and analyze a number of examples in order to determine if a chemical or physical change occurred.

  • Chemical Change, Phase Changes, Interdisciplinary, Culminating Project, Conservation of Mass, Chemical Change | Middle School, High School

    Project: Law of Conservation of Mass Comic Strip

    In this project, students will work in groups to create a comic strip that illustrates understanding of the law of conservation of mass.

  • Observations, Chemical Change, Redox Reaction, Scientific Method, Electron Transfer, Experimental Design | High School, Middle School

    Lab: Test Tube Geology

    In this lab, students will observe a reaction between an iron nail and copper(II) sulfate in a test tube over the course of several days, modeling how a similar reaction occurs to form copper deposits in the earth. Students will also modify the procedures to evaluate how changing a factor of their choice affects the results of the test tube reaction, introducing them to concepts of experimental design. It also introduces students to my version of the Science Writing Heuristic (SWH).

  • Observations, Density, Chemical Change, Density, Inferences | High School, Middle School

    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.

  • Observations, Chemical Change, Chemical Change | High School, Middle School

    Lab: Corrosion in Motion

    In this lab, students will expose metal samples to various solutions and observe the amount of corrosion of a period of time.

  • Observations, Chemical Change, Conservation of Mass, Chemical Change, Heat, Temperature, Exothermic & Endothermic | High School, Middle School

    Lab: Kitchen Reaction

    In this lab students will observe an endothermic chemical reaction involving baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and vinegar (acetic acid). Students will investigate the signs a chemical reaction has occurred (gas production, change in temperature). Students will perform the lab in an open system so they can see the change of mass due to gas production. This lab is a lead into the topic of conservation of mass. After the lab is completed, the teacher should do a demonstration of the exothermic reaction Hydrogen peroxide and potassium iodide.

  • Observations, Chemical Change, Balancing Equations | High School, Middle School

    Lab: Chemical Reactions & Equations

    In this lesson, students will observe a series of reactions, make observations, and then write balanced chemical equations to chemically describe what they observed.

  • Observations, Chemical Change, Reaction Rate, Scientific Method, Experimental Design | High School, Middle School

    Lab: Reaction Rate

    In this lab, students will explore factors that effect reaction rate and develop a general statement that describes how the factors (temperature, particle size, and concentration) effect the rate based on experimental data. This is an inquiry-based activity.

  • Chemical Change, Molecular Formula | High School, Middle School

    Lesson Plan: Valentine's Day Chemistry

    In this lesson, students learn about the chemistry of love. They see chemical structures of compounds involved in the biological process of love and learn about some of the chemical changes associated with love.

  • Observations, Physical Properties, Chemical Change, Physical Change, Chemical Change, Temperature, Exothermic & Endothermic | High School, Middle School

    Lab: Observing a Chemical Reaction

    In this lab, students will practice making careful observations and measurements while witnessing a chemical change.

  • Observations, Separating Mixtures, Physical Properties, Chemical Change, Physical Change, Scientific Method, Chemical Properties, Mixtures, Experimental Design | High School, Middle School

    Lab: Test Tube Separation

    In this lab, students will mix four substances in a test tube and recreate the original four layers through chemical and physical means.

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