Classroom Resources: Chemistry Basics


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  • Chemical Change, Interdisciplinary, History | 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.

  • Chemical Change, History | 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.

  • Chemical Change, Interdisciplinary, History | 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, 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.”

  • Density, Physical Properties, Chemical Change, Physical 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, Chemical Change, Physical 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Density, Chemical Change, Elements, Physical Change, Periodic Table, Review, 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.

  • Separating Mixtures, Physical Properties, Chemical Change, Introduction, Physical Change, History, Lab Safety, 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.

  • Observations, Chemical Change, Physical Change, Chemical Change, Indicators | Elementary School

    Lesson Plan: Explorations of Baking Soda and Vinegar

    In this lesson, students complete a series of simple lab experiments to better understand chemical reactions as well as differentiate between chemical change and physical change. Students will also be introduced to the pH scale, and have the opportunity to understand how chemical reactions can be used in real-world scenarios.

  • Mixtures, Chemical Change, Physical Change, Matter, Mixtures | Elementary School

    Activity: Chemistry in the Kitchen!

    In this activity, students will describe the steps required to complete a recipe of their choosing. They will identify any physical and chemical changes that occur throughout the process.

  • Observations, Physical Properties, Chemical Change, Physical 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.

  • Observations, Chemical Change, Physical Change, Chemical Change | Elementary School

    Demonstration: Make a Cake!

    In this demonstration, students will learn about chemical reactions by observing the differences when 4 small cakes are baked. Each recipe will differ slightly in that one important ingredient will be left out in 3 of the 4 mixtures. Students will observe and discuss what happens when things are missing or left out of a mixture and how that effects the chemical reaction.

  • Physical Properties, Chemical Change, Phase Changes, Physical Change, Matter | Elementary School

    Activity: Analyzing Root Beer Floats

    In this activity students will observe the states of matter while making a root beer float. They will also discover the differences between a solid, a liquid and a gas.

  • Chemical Change, Chemical Change | Elementary School

    Lab: Teeth Eggsperiment!

    In this lab students will observe and analyze how different drinks can stain an egg’s shell. They will then associate the results with how these drinks can stain their teeth.

  • Physical Properties, Chemical Change, Physical 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.

  • Chemical Change, Physical 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.

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

  • Observations, Chemical Change, Chemical Change, Oxidation | Elementary School

    Lab: Apple's Oxidation

    In this lab students will learn about the chemical reaction, oxidation, using apple wedges. They will apply different substances to a number of apple wedges to determine if these applications have any impact on the oxidation process. Students will also use a control sample so that they compare their results with an apple wedge that has not had any substance added to it. Students will measure and record the time it takes to see the changes to the apple which indicate oxidation. 3-46

  • 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.

  • Chemical Change, Physical 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.

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