Classroom Resources: Chemistry Basics


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  • 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.

  • Introduction, Molecular Structure, Matter | High School

    Activity: Real World Particle Diagramming

    In this activity, students illustrate everyday objects on the particulate level. To do this, students pick an object around the school (or their home) and then take a picture of the object, research its composition, and draw a particle diagram representation of the object. This helps students to gain confidence in representing matter at a particulate level by starting with familiar objects.

  • 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.

  • Elements, Periodic Table, Review, Atomic Mass, Atomic Radius, Ionization Energy, Ions | High School

    Activity: Reviewing the Periodic Table and Periodic Trends

    In this activity, students will use their knowledge of the periodic table and periodic trends to add fictional elements to a periodic table based on their properties. Once the elements are in the correct place they will reveal a hidden message. This review activity will help students prepare for a summative assessment such as a unit test or final exam.

  • Separating Mixtures, Concentration, Review, Culminating Project, Covalent Bonding, Ionic Bonding, Percent Composition, Le Châtelier's Principle, Calorimetry, Titrations, Indicators, Redox Reaction, Half Reactions, Beer's Law, Buffers, Enthalpy, Conductivity, Mixtures, Alloys, pH | High School

    Lesson Plan: AP Chemistry Experimental Evidence Review

    In this lesson, students will evaluate data from 16 simulated lab experiments that were designed to mirror the Recommended Labs from the College Board. Corresponding lab experiments and demonstration options have also been included for teacher reference.

  • History | High School

    Activity: Evaluating the Name Reactions in Chemistry

    In this activity, students will discuss diversity, equity, and inclusion in chemistry by exploring name reactions in organic chemistry. Students will engage in preliminary reflection, then listen to the podcast, Should organic chemistry’s name reactions go the way of the mouth pipet? from C&EN, and then share their perspective on a discussion board.

  • 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.

  • Observations, Chemical Change, Balancing Equations, Chemical Change, Activity Series, Predicting Products | High School

    Lab: Activity Series of Unknown Metals

    In this lab, students will create an activity series of metals from a series of reactions involving unknown metals. They will then compare their activity series and a list of metals used in this lab (supplied by the teacher after data collection) to a published activity series to identify the unknown metals.

  • Observations, Chemical Change, Balancing Equations, Chemical Change, Activity Series, 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.

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

    Simulation: 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

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