Classroom Resources: Chemistry Basics


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  • Physical Properties, Physical Change, Culminating Project, Chemical Change, Chemical Change, Mixture, Chemical Properties, Chemical Structure | High School

    Project: Analyze a Family Recipe

    In this project, students will select a family recipe, or a favorite recipe to investigate. They will analyze several of the ingredients in order learn more about the chemistry of each one, as well as their purpose in the recipe. Additionally, students will examine several ingredient interactions to learn more about the chemistry of cooking.

  • Culminating Project, Chemical Change, Balancing Equations, Stoichiometry, Chemical Change, Mole Concept, Dimensional Analysis, Measurements, Predicting Products | High School

    Project: Chemical Reaction Soda Bottle Boat Race

    In this project, students will design and build a soda bottle boat with the goal of having the fastest boat to get to the other end of the rain gutter racetrack. Students will have to complete stoichiometric calculations to determine an appropriate amount of “fuel” (baking soda + vinegar) to power their boat.

  • Observations, Physical Properties, Solubility, Physical Change, Precipitate, Identifying an Unknown, Chemical Change, Indicators, Chemical Properties | High School

    Lab: Using Qualitative Analysis to Identify Household Compounds

    In this lab, students will be introduced to common laboratory techniques, safety procedures, lab reagents, and terminology, all while identifying unknown household substances. Students will learn how to use qualitative analysis techniques as a systematic way to identify unknown materials. As part of this process, they will practice careful observation and documentation, as well as identifying relevant physical and chemical properties and changes, including solubility, color change, gas formation, and precipitation of solids.

  • Solubility, Precipitate, Identifying an Unknown, Chemical Change, Net Ionic Equation, Balancing Equations, Chemical Change, Scientific Method, Solubility Rules, Experimental Design, Predicting Products | High School

    Lab: Mislabeled Mess!

    In this lab, students will identify 3 unknown acids by using the solubility rules. They will be given a list of materials and will design their own procedures for identifying the unknowns. For each combination of reactants, they will predict whether a product forms and, if it does, write complete and net ionic equations for those reactions.

  • Observations, Physical Properties, Solubility, Identifying an Unknown, Polyatomic Ions, Chemical Change, Covalent Bonding, Ionic Bonding, Chemical Properties, Experimental Design | High School

    Lab: Determining the Composition of Bridge Straw Stalactites

    In this lab, students will investigate “straws” that hang from a local bridge, and then determine various tests that can help to determine their chemical composition. Evaluating both the test results, as well as given information students will then make a claim about the composition, while providing evidence and supporting it with reasoning.

  • Separating Mixtures, Density, Physical Properties, Phase Changes, Introduction, Elements, Physical Change, History, Lab Safety, Chemical Change, Molecular Motion, Accuracy, Dimensional Analysis, Measurements, Scientific Notation, Significant Figures, SI Units, Chemical Properties, Mixtures | High School

    Lesson Plan: The Chemistry Basics and Measurement Quick Start Unit Plan

    This Quick Start Unit Plan includes all the materials that a teacher will need for the first 10 class meetings of the school year. Each day is outlined with teacher notes, and includes slide presentations as well as directions for demonstrations, activities and labs to use. The fundamental topics covered in the 10 days of lessons are: laboratory safety, laboratory equipment, experimental design, classification of matter, chemical properties, physical properties, chemical change, physical change, phase changes, separation techniques, dimensional analysis, unit conversions, factor label method, accuracy, precision, significant figures, and percent error calculations. This Quick Start Unit plan aims to help students to build a foundation of understanding, and master important topics before moving deeper into the chemistry curriculum.

  • Observations, Physical Properties, Physical Change, Chemical Change, Chemical Properties | High School

    Lab: Determining Physical and Chemical Properties

    In this lab, students will determine the physical and chemical properties of several different substances through testing and observation. Additionally, they will further their understanding of chemical and physical changes, and their ability to recognize each type of change.

  • 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.

  • 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, 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.

  • 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.

  • 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, Chemical Change, Chemical Change, Activity Series, Predicting Products | High School

    Project: Wastewater Recovery

    In this project, students will analyze test results in order to design a procedure for recovering certain metals from wastewater using their knowledge of the Activity Series of Metals and single replacement reactions. Based on their analysis, students will create a proposal for presentation in an effort to recommend the best plan for reclaiming the metals from the wastewater.

  • 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.

  • Observations, Physical Change, Chemical Change, Polarity, 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.”

  • 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.

  • Physical Change, Chemical Change, Chemical Change, Activity Series, Redox Reaction | 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.

  • 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.

  • Separating Mixtures, Physical Properties, Introduction, Physical Change, History, Lab Safety, Chemical Change, Measurements, Significant Figures, SI Units, Chemical Properties | High School

    Lesson Plan: Chemistry Basics Unit Plan

    The AACT High School Classroom Resource library and multimedia collection has everything you need to put together a unit plan for your classroom: lessons, activities, labs, projects, videos, simulations, and animations. We searched through our resource library and constructed a unit plan for introducing the basic chemistry concepts to students: Laboratory Safety, Equipment, and Reports, Periodic Table Basics, Physical and Chemical Properties and Changes, Endothermic and Exothermic Changes, and Classification of Matter. These topics are very important for your students to master before they dig into other chemistry concepts. This unit is designed to be used at beginning of the school year.

  • 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.

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Grade Level: High School

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