Classroom Resources: Chemistry Basics


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  • 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.

  • History, Interdisciplinary, Chemical Change | 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.

  • History, Chemical Change | 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.

  • History, Interdisciplinary, Chemical Change | 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, Inferences, Chemical Change, 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, Physical Change, Chemical 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, Physical Change, Chemical 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, Physical Change, Chemical 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, Physical Change, Chemical 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, Elements, Physical Change, Periodic Table, Review, Chemical Change, 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, Physical Change, Chemical 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, Physical Change, Chemical 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.

  • Physical Change, Chemical 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.

  • Melting Point, Phase Changes, Physical Change, Chemical 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!

  • Physical Change, Chemical 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.

  • Phase Changes, Interdisciplinary, Culminating Project, Chemical Change, 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.

  • Chemical Change, Strong vs Weak, Acid & Base Theories, Mixture, Salts, Ions, Conductivity | Middle School

    Lesson Plan: Why Drink Gatorade?

    In this lesson, students will test different flavors of Gatorade and other liquids to investigate acids and bases. This will take several days unless students already know about acids and bases.

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

  • Chemical Change, Intermolecular Forces, Polymers, Polarity, Molecular Structure, Intermolecular Forces, Scientific Method, Monomer | Middle School

    Lesson Plan: Watch the Baby! Superabsorbent Polymer

    In this lesson, students will learn about how polymers, specifically superabsorbent polymers, work. Through lab activities, students will investigate polymer properties.

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

  • Physical Change, Identifying an Unknown, Chemical Change, Acid Base Reactions | Middle School

    Lab: Is It a Hoax

    In this lab, students will perform tests on the physical and chemical properties of different substances to determine the identity of the unknown.

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

    Demonstration: Investigating Gas Density

    In this demonstration, students will observe a reaction between baking soda and vinegar in the presence of a burning candle. 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 candle to extinguish. Students will analyze the outcome and compare the presence of the gases in the container and make determinations about the densities of each.

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

    Activity: Tie Dye

    In this activity, students make tie-dye shirts and complete a worksheet about a reading from ChemMatters about how dyes work. It gives students the opportunity to apply chemistry to everyday life.

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Subtopics: Chemical Change

Grade Level: Middle School

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