Classroom Resources: Chemistry Basics


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  • Introduction, Elements, History, Periodic Table, Atoms, Model of the Atom, Atomic Theory, Matter | Middle School, High School

    Animation: Atoms: The Building Blocks of Matter Animation

    In this animation, students will be introduced to the idea that everything is made of atoms, and that since atoms are so extremely small, even small objects contain vast numbers of atoms. They will see several examples to illustrate this point. Then they will be given a brief overview of the evolution of how people thought about atoms from the ancient Greeks through Dalton.

  • Periodic Table, Review | High School

    Activity: Sudoku by the (Chemical) Numbers

    In this activity, students will first answer clues about fundamental chemistry concepts in order to determine the missing digits from a sudoku puzzle. After solving the clues, students must then use both logic and reasoning while following the rules of sudoku to solve the 9x9 puzzle.

  • Interdisciplinary, Graphing | High School

    Activity: Insect Investigators

    In this activity, students will learn that insects can be used as a tool in a criminal investigation to predict the time of death of a person or an animal by a Forensic Entomologist. Students will analyze and graph multiple data sets related to the life cycle of a blow fly in order to better understand how the blow fly can be used as evidence in an investigation.

  • Interdisciplinary, Graphing | Middle School, High School

    Simulation: Graphing

    In this simulation, students will be introduced to good graphing techniques and how to interpret data presented in a graph. They are introduced to the TAILS acronym (Title, Axes, Intervals, Labels, Scale) to help them remember how to set up a graph and the concepts of line of best fit, positive and negative correlation, and interpolating and extrapolating. Then students complete a six-question quiz on these topics.

  • Interdisciplinary, Graphing | Middle School, High School

    Activity: Simulation Activity: Graphing

    In this activity, students will use a simulation to learn good graphing techniques, as well as how to interpret data presented in a graph. They will take a quiz in the simulation, and then have an opportunity to put their graphing skills to work and generate their own graph using sample data.

  • 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.

  • Elements, Periodic Table | Middle School, High School

    Activity: Chemistry Kakuro Puzzle

    In this activity, students will use both math and logic to solve a chemistry themed kakuro puzzle. This puzzle differs slightly from a traditional kakuro by first requiring students to use a periodic table to find the atomic number for each element symbol appearing in the puzzle. Using the atomic numbers as starting clues, students then fill-in the empty squares with numbers 1-9 that sum to the value of the clue, but without reusing any digits. This activity is a fun challenge for students, and provides the opportunity to strengthen logic and reasoning skills.

  • Observations, Physical Properties, Interdisciplinary, Review, Culminating Project, Balancing Equations, Chemical Change, Exothermic & Endothermic, Calorimetry, Heat, Specific Heat, Temperature, Mole Concept, Dimensional Analysis, Measurements, Law of Conservation of Energy, Chemical Properties, Enthalpy, Graphing | High School

    Project: Handwarmer Design Challenge

    In this project, students will use their knowledge of thermodynamics to design a handwarmer for a manufacturing company that can maintain a temperature of 30-40°C for at least 5 minutes and is designed for the average human hand. Students will create a final product after rounds of testing and an advertising poster that summarizes the results of their testing and promotes their design.

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

    Activity: Animation Activity: Density

    In this activity, students will use an animation to visualize density on the particulate level. There are opportunities to make qualitative and quantitative comparisons between substances.

  • Physical Properties, Periodic Table, Review, Naming Compounds, Covalent Bonding, Ionic Bonding, VSEPR Theory, Electron Configuration, Stoichiometry, Limiting Reactant, Chemical Change, Subatomic Particles, Molecular Geometry, Lewis Structures | High School

    Activity: Chemistry Review Escape Room

    In this activity, students will work collaboratively to apply their chemistry knowledge in order to “escape the room.” They will work to solve four clues that span a plethora of topics ranging from Atomic Structure all the way up to Stoichiometry. These four clues will point them to four chemical reactions to conduct on a small-scale basis that will correspond with a four-digit combination to a lock. This engaging activity is not only fun for all students but also allows for interactive and collaborative review.

  • Polymers, Interdisciplinary, Molecular Structure , Chemical Properties | High School

    Activity: Ingenious: Oversexed Moths Are Ruining Apples for Everyone Video Questions

    In this activity, students will answer questions while watching the video Oversexed Moths are Ruining Apples for Everyone from the Ingenious series produced by the American Chemical Society. Each episode investigates a different topic related to how leading-edge chemistry is taking on the world’s most urgent issues to advance everyone’s quality of life and secure our shared future. This episode investigates how the larvae of codling moths wreak havoc in orchards—burrowing into fruit and eating them from the inside out. Scientists are developing synthetic, species-specific pheromones as an alternative to pesticides. Pheromones are scented chemical messages that animals release at mating time and can help to prevent male codling moths from finding females to mate with. No mating means no eggs, no larvae and no more bad apples!

  • Separating Mixtures, Physical Properties, Mixtures | High School

    Activity: Ingenious: The World's Smallest Water Treatment Plant Comes in a Packet Video Questions

    In this activity, students will answer questions while watching the video The World’s Smallest Water Treatment Plant Comes in a Packet from the Ingenious series produced by the American Chemical Society. Each episode investigates a different topic related to how leading-edge chemistry is taking on the world’s most urgent issues to advance everyone’s quality of life and secure our shared future. This episode investigates the global shortage in accessing clean water. Using a technology that was first developed to reuse dirty laundry water, scientists have developed a water treatment plant the size of a teabag that contains a chemical triple-threat—it removes microbes, heavy metals, silt and dirt to produce clean, safe water.

  • 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.

  • Interdisciplinary, Molecular Structure , Functional Groups | High School

    Video: Ingenious Video 8: Is the Answer to Overfishing… Algae?

    Omega-3s are an essential nutrient that humans have to get from fish. But many of the world’s wild fish species are in crisis because we’ve taken too many of them from the ocean. So the answer is to farm more of our fish, right? While fish-farming relieves some pressure on the ocean’s wild species, it also contributes to that pressure, since farmed fish are fed fishmeal made from wild-caught fish. That’s because fish don’t make their own Omega-3s either. Like us, they get them from their diet. Using technology that came out of the space program, scientists have developed a way to cut out the middle-fish from the food chain and harvest Omega-3s for fishmeal directly from the source: algae.

  • Physical Properties, Physical Change, Polymers, Molecular Structure, Heat, Monomer | High School

    Video: Ingenious Video 7: The World has a Receipt Problem

    The receipts you take home from the store – or stuff in your bag, or lose in your car -- employ a printing method that’s been around since the 1970s. Thermal printing involves heat-sensitive inks called leuco dyes that show up when they react with an acid developer embedded in the paper. Not only do these inks fade easily, but receipts that use them aren’t recyclable, and could even be dangerous to your health. Taking a cue from a failed experiment, scientists are developing a new kind of receipt paper that will use the same thermal printers without leuco dyes. Instead of acid developers, this paper is coated in reflective microspheres that collapse under heat, allowing regular ink underneath to show through.

  • Physical Properties, Physical Change, Polymers, Molecular Structure, Heat, Monomer | High School

    Activity: Ingenious: The World Has a Receipt Problem Video Questions

    In this activity, students will answer questions while watching the video The World has a Receipt Problem from the Ingenious series produced by the American Chemical Society. Each episode investigates a different topic related to how leading-edge chemistry is taking on the world’s most urgent issues to advance everyone’s quality of life and secure our shared future. This episode investigates the process of thermal printing on receipts, and the limitations related to the paper that currently prints using leuco dyes. This heat-sensitive ink appears when it reacts with an acid developer embedded in the paper. Scientists are working to develop a new kind of thermal receipt paper, that can use the same printers, however it offers many additional benefits and potential uses.

  • Physical Properties, Atoms, Model of the Atom, Electron Configuration, Valence Electrons, Subatomic Particles, Lewis Dot Diagrams, Electrons | Middle School, High School

    Project: Atomic Holiday Ornaments

    In this project, students will design an atomic holiday ornament for a chosen element, along with a certificate of authenticity to display on a “Chemis-tree”. Students will also have the opportunity to vote on the ornaments created by their classmates.

  • Review | Middle School, High School

    Activity: Vocabulary Learning Made Simple

    In this activity, students write definitions for vocabulary words using only the 1000 most common English words. Then students interact with the simplified definitions in order to try to guess the vocabulary words correctly.

  • Physical Properties, Elements, Review | High School

    Activity: Family Reunion Puzzle

    In this activity, students will be challenged to solve a collection of anagrams—but with a twist! Given 27 ordinary words, students must remove one letter and then rearrange the remaining letters to form a chemical term. Additionally, the anagrams are grouped into 3 families, with all of the chemical terms in each family sharing a common property or theme.

  • Physical Properties, Polymers, Interdisciplinary, Lab Safety, Heat, Temperature, Molecular Structure , Chemical Properties | High School

    Video: Ingenious Video 3: This Sandwich Will Save Your Life in an Arc Flash

    It’s never fun when your clothes catch on fire. And while “stop, drop, and roll” may be a good idea sometimes, in more extreme cases, you need a better plan. Every day, industrial workers, firefighters, and soldiers risk fiery situations that might seem hard to imagine. In an arc flash event, for one, temperatures can jump to metal-melting levels in milliseconds. How can anyone possibly survive that? Well, take a tip from a club sandwich, because it’s all about the layers. The composite fabrics that protect life and limb in these situations rely on some incredible, multilayered chemistry, including the ability to quickly form a protective carbonaceous crust around the wearer.

  • Physical Properties, Polymers, Interdisciplinary, Lab Safety, Polymers, Heat, Temperature, Chemical Properties | High School

    Activity: Ingenious: This Sandwich Will Save Your Life in an Arc Flash Video Questions

    In this activity, students will answer questions while watching the video, This Sandwich will Save your life in an Arc Flash, from the Ingenious series produced by the American Chemical Society. Each episode investigates a different topic related to how leading-edge chemistry is taking on the world’s most urgent issues to advance everyone’s quality of life and secure our shared future. This episode investigates the composite fabrics that protect lives of many people, like industrial workers, firefighters, and soldiers. When these workers encounter a fiery situation, they rely on protective clothing, designed using multiple layers of chemistry, to keep them safe.

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

    Activity: ACS Chemical Safety Video Questions

    In this activity, students will learn about safety, a core value of chemistry, through watching related videos produced by the American Chemical Society, Students will complete guided notes and questions during the activity. This chemical safety video series includes five videos: Safety Mindset, Safety Data Sheets, How to Dress for the Lab, and PPE, Preparing for Emergencies, and RAMP (Recognize hazards, Assess risks, Minimize risks, Prepare for emergencies).

  • Equilibrium Constants, Establishing Equilibrium, Reaction Quotient, Graphing | High School

    Activity: Shaking Dice to Model Equilibrium Principles

    In this activity, students work together in small groups using a variety of multi-sided dice to model the dynamic character of a chemical equilibrium. Students will collect, share and analyze data in order to understand that the rate of a chemical reaction depends on the concentration of reactants (and products) as modelled by the different sided dice.

  • 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.

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