Classroom Resources: Chemistry Basics

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

    Activity: Analyzing & Creating Safety Labels

    In this activity, students will understand and interpret the color and number symbols on an NFPA Safety Diamond and then apply their knowledge to interpreting a label for chemicals. Students will also demonstrate an understanding of the safety precautions recommended for safe handling of specific chemicals as indicated by the diamond.

  • History, Model of the Atom, Atomic Theory, Subatomic Particles | High School

    Demonstration: The Hoopla about Atoms

    In this demonstration, students use a hula hoop that has a ball in the center (hung from a string) to simulate Rutherford’s gold foil experiment.

  • Interdisciplinary, History, Review | High School, Middle School

    Project: Create a Chemistry App

    In this project, students will use Google accounts to create chemistry-themed apps, with no programming required. They will create a Google Drive spreadsheet containing scientific information, and link it to a free account on They will personalize the app on the Glideapps website. The resulting app will be available to view on devices that have the correct link.

  • Lab Safety | High School, Middle School

    Activity: Lab Safety, You're Fired!

    In this activity, students will read an account of a laboratory tour which details numerous safety infractions. They will be charged with identifying the safety violations and determining which scientist working in the lab should be fired. This activity is designed to be used after both lab safety and Claim, Evidence, Reasoning framework has been introduced.

  • Chemical Change, Physical Change, Activity Series, Redox Reaction, Chemical Change | High School

    Demonstration: Understanding the Discrepant Reactivity of Copper in the Presence of Strong Acids

    In this demonstration, students practice their observation skills during the additions of different acids to two test tubes containing copper. The activity is structured to allow students to make thoughtful remarks about what they observe, using rich indicators of both chemical and physical properties and changes. In subsequent lessons on new concepts, students can reflect back on their observations to rationalize the discrepant results of the reactions in the demonstration.

  • Elements, Periodic Table | High School, Middle School

    Activity: Lucky Seven

    In this activity, students will use the periodic table and the clues provided to identify element names. Students will then attempt to find the element names that are hidden n the puzzle.

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

  • Interdisciplinary, Polymers, Culminating Project | High School, Middle School

    Lesson Plan: Cleaning-up the Plastic Island

    In this lesson, students will develop an understanding of the chemistry of plastics and apply their knowledge in order to engineer a cost effective and environmentally friendly method to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

  • Physical Change, Dimensional Analysis, Measurements, Matter, Mixture | High School, Middle School

    Activity: Cooking with Conversions

    In this activity, students will be given a common homemade recipe for German chocolate cake with measurements in English units. They will be asked to convert the English ingredients list to metric units through scientific calculations. Students will also be asked to identify the ingredients as solid, liquid or gas. While reviewing the cooking procedures, students will classify certain steps as containing compounds or mixtures as well as identify whether chemical or physical changes are taking place. The culinary chemistry involved in this lesson should be introduced throughout the activity.

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

    Project: Chemical Disasters: Good Chemicals gone Bad!

    In this project, students will research an industrial chemical accident. They will examine the chemicals involved including uses, hazards, chemical and physical properties. Students will investigate the cause of the accident and its repercussions. As the final product, they will film a 5-minute documentary which will be viewed in class.

  • Introduction, Elements, Periodic Table, Temperature | High School

    Activity: An Element Fill-In Puzzle

    In this activity, students will solve a puzzle by using element symbols from the periodic table to fill-in missing letters in familiar chemistry terms related to energy and thermodynamics.

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

    Activity: The Periodic Table: Put Your Love to the Test!

    In this activity, students will be challenged to see how familiar they are will the element names on the periodic table. Students will examine a heart-shaped word search, following the rules of the assigned difficulty level (beginner, intermediate, or advanced) in order to identify as many element names as possible.

  • Physical Properties, Intermolecular Forces, Molecular Structure | High School

    Lab: Solubility Plays a Role: Making Seitan from Flour

    This lab offers insight into a practical aspect of solubility and demystifies a common ingredient, wheat flour. In this lab students will read about the composition and observe some properties of whole wheat flour by preparing seitan, a vegetarian meat substitute made from the glutenin and gliadin proteins in flour. Gluten, formed from the interaction of the aforementioned proteins, has a unique property of elasticity.

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

    Activity: The Disappearing Spoon Reading Questions

    In this activity, students will read a series of passages from the young readers edition of The Disappearing Spoon that are related to the elements in the AACT video series

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

    Activity: The Disappearing Spoon Video Questions

    In this activity, students will watch videos from the AACT original video series, Sam Kean’s Disappearing Spoon. While watching a video, students will answer several questions related to the particular element of focus.

  • Physical Properties, Elements, History, Periodic Table, Atomic Mass, Subatomic Particles | High School

    Activity: Which Element Am I?

    In this activity, students will be challenged by a list of clues that describe 50 different elements from the periodic table. Using their own knowledge, or the help of the internet students will determine the identity of each element based on the clue provided.

  • Elements, Periodic Table, Atomic Mass, Subatomic Particles | High School, Middle School

    Activity: Periodic Table Connect The Dots

    In this activity, students solve a series of clues about elements in order to uncover a message that has been hidden in the periodic table. Using the clues, students draw lines between identified elements on the table, which then connect to form the message. Two versions of this activity are available, varying the difficulty level of the clues.

  • Density, Lab Safety, Combustion | High School

    Demonstration: Density of Gases and Particle Diagrams

    In this demonstration, students will observe the teacher carry out two combustion reactions. First the teacher will burn a small sample of propane gas in a beaker. Next the teacher will burn a small sample of methane gas. Students will create particle diagrams in order support their explanation and model their observations as they improve their understanding of gas density.

  • Renewable Energy, Introduction, Interdisciplinary, History, Polymers, Molecular Structure, Heat | High School, Middle School

    Activity: The Frontiers of Chemistry: Video Questions

    In this activity, students will answer questions while watching a video about several exciting scientific developments, including solar cells, 3D printing and micro machines. This video will help students understand that fundamental chemistry concepts are essential to the advancement of science and technology.

  • Identifying an Unknown, Mole Concept, Percent Composition, Emission Spectrum | High School

    Lesson Plan: Chemical Analysis of Martian Rocks

    In this lesson, students are challenged to analyze the spectral graphs obtained by the Curiosity Mars Rover. Based on their examination students will determine the component elements of each sample, as well as the relative abundance of each element. With this information the student will complete calculations to find the empirical formula and identify the composition of the unknown rock. Finally students will complete research to see if these rocks are actually like those on Earth.

  • Physical Properties, Intermolecular Forces, Polarity, Physical Change, Molecular Structure, Molecular Structure , Chemical Properties, Molecular Geometry | High School

    Lesson Plan: An Exploration of Intermolecular Forces

    In this lesson students will explore intermolecular forces, and their associated effect on physical and chemical properties. Students will experiment with volatile liquids to investigate their predictions about intermolecular strength.

  • Density, Physical Properties, Periodic Table, Review, Mixture | High School, Middle School

    Activity: Chemistry Basics: Advanced Crossword Puzzle

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

  • Observations, Chemical Change, pH, Acid Base Reactions, Chemical Change | High School, Middle School

    Lab: How do Sinkholes Form?

    In this lab students will learn how acidic groundwater reacts with limestone, causing it to erode. Sinkholes form when eroded limestone underneath the surface of the earth can no longer support the ground above it. Students will test how acid reacts with a variety of rocks and determine which rocks would be best to build a city on top of in order to reduce the chance of sinkholes forming.

  • Review, Dimensional Analysis, Measurements | High School, Middle School

    Activity: Dimensional Analysis Show Down

    In this activity students will work cooperatively to solve conversion based problems using dimensional analysis. Students are required to independently determine an answer for each question and be able explain their method of solving with their peers. This activity is designed to allow students to work at their own pace, and for students to take on a teaching role by communicating their understanding with their peers.

  • Lab Safety | High School

    Activity: The Essentials for Survival

    In this activity, the students will be introduced to and explore different lab equipment, model appropriate group work and class discussions, and practice writing efficient Claim-Evidence-Reasoning reports. This is an introductory activity for use in a general education chemistry class.

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