Classroom Resources: Chemistry Basics


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  • 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.

  • Observations, Chemical Change, Polarity, Physical Change, Molecular Structure, Chemical Change, Lewis Structures | High School

    Lab: DIY Triiodide

    In this lab, students will investigate how iodine interacts with various substances. They will use color changes to justify whether a chemical or physical change is taking place. This activity is referenced in the October 2019 ChemMatters article called “Cash, Chemistry, and Counterfeiting.”

  • 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.

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

  • Observations, History, Conservation of Mass, Measurements, SI Units | Middle School, High School

    Activity: Lavoisier Video Questions

    In this activity, students will watch a video about Antoine Lavoisier, who many consider to be the father of modern chemistry. They will answer questions as they learn about oxygen, hydrogen, and the first proposal of the Law of the Conservation of Mass.

  • Observations, Physical Properties, History, Matter | Elementary School, Middle School, High School

    Activity: Ancient Chemistry Video Questions

    In this activity, students will watch a video about the history of chemistry. They will answer questions while learning about the history of chemistry, starting with the discovery of fire, progressing through the various metal ages, and be introduced to the great philosophers.

  • Observations, Density, Measurements | Middle School, High School

    Lab: Penny Boats

    In this lab, students will explore Archimedes’ Principle and how it relates to density. Each student will be given a piece of aluminum foil and asked to design and build a boat that will hold as many pennies as possible without sinking when placed in water.

  • Observations, Catalysts, Classification of Reactions, Chemical Change | Middle School, High School

    Demonstration: Catalyst in Motion

    This demonstration allows students to visualize how a catalyst can impact a chemical reaction. Students will also identify the products of a decomposition reaction, as well as determine if the reaction was endothermic or exothermic based on their observations.

  • Observations, Mixtures, Inferences, Intermolecular Forces, Scientific Method | High School

    Lab: Magic Milk

    In this lab, students will investigate the addition of detergent to a mixture of whole milk and food coloring. Students will attempt to explain the cause of their observations. Also, students will have the opportunity to manipulate the experiment and determine how other variables may impact the results.

  • Observations, Physical Properties | Middle School, High School

    Lab: Abe Goes Swimming

    In this lab, students will investigate surface tension by comparing the number of liquid drops of water and of alcohol that can be held on the surface of a penny. An optional opportunity to investigate surfactants is also provided.

  • Observations, Scientific Method | High School

    Lesson Plan: Is it Real Science or Pseudoscience?

    In this lesson, students will deepen their knowledge of the scientific method by learning how to determine if researched information is valid and if it should be used for gaining or furthering our scientific knowledge. Students will view the documentary “Mermaids: The Body Found”, a pseudo-documentary that was later reported to be a hoax by the Discovery Channel. They will then use a “Baloney Detection Kit” to analyze the authenticity of information presented through different media as scientific fact.

  • Observations, Chemical Change, Conservation of Mass, Stoichiometry, Conservation of Mass, Limiting Reactant, Chemical Change | High School

    Demonstration: Understanding Limiting Reactants

    In this demonstration, the teacher will perform a series of reactions between acetic acid (vinegar) and varying amounts of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) in order to inflate several balloons. Students will observe the reactions and analyze the quantities of reactants used as well as the results in order to understand the concept of limiting reactants.

  • Observations, Inferences, Conservation of Mass, Matter, Error Analysis | High School

    Lab: Investigating Mass Change

    In this lab, students perform seven different investigations in order to develop an understanding of conservation of mass.

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

    Demonstration: Density Tubes

    In this demonstration, students will have the opportunity to observe and analyze the density of a solution. Students will interpret their observations as they compare the density of the solution with plastic components.

  • Observations, History, Conservation of Mass, Measurements, SI Units | Elementary School, Middle School, High School

    Video: Antoine Lavoisier Video

    This video tells the story of Antoine Lavoisier who many consider to be the father or modern chemistry. Lavoisier discovered oxygen and hydrogen and first proposed the Law of Conservation of Mass.

  • Observations, Physical Properties, History, Model of the Atom | Elementary School, Middle School, High School

    Video: Ancient Chemistry Video

    This video traces the history of chemistry from the discovery of fire, through the various metal ages, and finally to the great philosophers.

  • Observations, Chemical Change, History, Reduction, Redox Reaction, Oxidation | High School

    Demonstration: Nitric Acid Acts Upon Copper

    In this demonstration, students will hear a story about Ira Remsen and watch a demonstration that recreates her first experiment reacting nitric acid with a copper penny.

  • 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, Chemical Change, Net Ionic Equation, Reduction, Activity Series, Redox Reaction, Oxidation | High School

    Lab: Fine Art of Redox

    In this lab, students will practice writing and balancing redox reactions and use the activity series to verify the outcome of a chemical reaction.

  • Observations, Density, Sublimation | High School, Middle School

    Lab: Dry Ice (High School)

    In this lab, students perform several small experiments using dry ice and record their observations.

  • Observations, Chemical Change, Interdisciplinary, Acid Base Reactions, Classification of Reactions, Chemical Change, Acid Rain, pH | High School

    Activity: Investigating Acid Rain

    In this activity, students will investigate the chemistry of acid rain through web based research. Students will also have the opportunity to observe the reaction between a common acid and a material in a week long simulation and relate their findings to the effects of acid rain.

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

    Demonstration: Secret Message

    In this lesson, students will observe a hidden message while understanding simple acid/base chemistry and indicators.

  • Observations, Chemical Change, Chemical Change, Reaction Rate, Acid Base Reactions, Limiting Reactant, Chemical Change, Indicators, Le Châtelier's Principle | High School

    Demonstration: Milk of Magnesia Magic

    In this demonstration, students will observe a color change in a milk of magnesia solution as vinegar is added.

  • Observations, Inferences, Molecular Motion, Temperature | High School, Middle School

    Demonstration: What is Temperature?

    In this demonstration, students will observe food dye mixing with water at different temperatures.

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