Classroom Resources: Energy & Thermodynamics


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  • Molecular Structure, Electromagnetic Spectrum, Molecular Structure , Chemical Bond | High School

    Activity: Ingenious: What Birds Know About Color that You Don't Video Questions

    In this activity, students will answer questions while watching the video, What Birds Know about Color that You Don’t, 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 structural color, its complexities as well as how it differs from pigments and dyes.

  • Molecular Structure, Electromagnetic Spectrum, Molecular Structure , Chemical Bond | High School

    Video: Ingenious Video 2: What Birds Know About Color that You Don't

    We’ve been using pigments and dyes for thousands of years, but they’re not the whole story when it comes to making color. “Structural” color occurs when tiny nanostructures interact with light waves, amplifying certain colors and canceling others. From brilliant bird feathers to butterfly wings, mole hairs to octopus skin, structural color is everywhere in the natural world. Researchers have tried for years to harness this incredible natural phenomenon in a useful way. Because these colors are so small and complex, and therefore hard to copy, their efforts have met with little success. But novel research using a computer model based in repeated random sampling — a so-called “Monte Carlo” model — is showing promise. Using this approach, scientists have been able to mimic the gorgeous blue of the mountain bluebird in a thin film of reflective beads, leapfrogging millennia of evolution.

  • 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.

  • Atomic Spectra, Electromagnetic Spectrum, Electrons | High School

    Lesson Plan: Atomic Spectra for At-Home Learning

    In this lesson, students first observe a flame test demonstration conducted by their teacher, and hypothesize about the identity of an unknown sample. Then they make connections in their understanding as they are tasked with building a prism, researching about wavelengths, and creating a model of electron energy levels.

  • Interdisciplinary, Electromagnetic Spectrum | Elementary School, Middle School, High School

    Activity: Animation Activity: Electromagnetic Spectrum

    In this animation, students will learn about the electromagnetic spectrum, with a focus on the visible spectrum. It addresses the relationship between color, wavelength, frequency, and energy of light waves, as well as how an object absorbs and reflects certain wavelengths of light to contribute to the color we perceive.

  • Interdisciplinary, Electromagnetic Spectrum | Elementary School, Middle School, High School

    Animation: The Electromagnetic Spectrum Animation

    In this animation, students will learn about the electromagnetic spectrum, with a focus on the visible spectrum. It addresses the relationship between color, wavelength, frequency, and energy of light waves, as well as how an object absorbs and reflects certain wavelengths of light to contribute to the color we perceive.

  • Identifying an Unknown, Electromagnetic Spectrum | Middle School, High School

    Activity: Color Matching Paint Video Questions

    In this activity, students will watch a video and answer related questions about how technology, specifically focusing on spectrophotometry, can be used for paint matching. During the video, students will learn how the spectrophotometer interacts with the spectrum of visible light in order to match or reproduce specific paint colors.

  • Mixtures, Molecular Structure, Electromagnetic Spectrum | Middle School, High School

    Activity: What are Pigments? Video Questions

    In this activity, students will watch a video and answer related questions about the chemistry of pigment molecules and how they are used to give paints their specific color. During the video, students will learn about the importance of a pigment’s molecular structure, how they are physically suspended to create a paint color, as well as how they interact with light.

  • Mixtures, Intermolecular Forces, Polymers, Molecular Structure, Solute & Solvent, Intermolecular Forces, Electromagnetic Spectrum | Middle School, High School

    Activity: What is Paint? Video Questions

    In this activity, students will watch a video and answer related questions about the composition of paint. During the video, students will learn about the differences between three common paint types, water colors, oil-based and acrylic paint as well as the chemistry of each.

  • Interdisciplinary, Heat, Temperature, Electromagnetic Spectrum, Graphing, Radiation, Experimental Design | Middle School, High School

    Lesson Plan: The Ozone Layer

    In this lesson, students will develop an explanation for the consequences of ozone depletion on Earth by planning and carrying out an investigation. Students will use analysis and interpretation of data to develop a model to explain the cause and effect of Ozone depletion on the planet Earth.

  • Elements, Atomic Spectra, Identifying an Unknown, Emission Spectrum, Electromagnetic Spectrum, Emission Spectrum | Elementary School, Middle School

    Lesson Plan: Elements Are Out of This World

    In this lesson, students will learn about the elements that make up Earth’s atmosphere and lithosphere and then compare and contrast the information with the elements that compose various other astronomical objects.

  • Atomic Spectra, Electromagnetic Spectrum, Electrons | High School

    Lab: Mystical Fire Investigation

    In this lab, students will create several testable questions based upon their observations of a mystical fire. Students then direct their own laboratory experience as they safely investigate these testable questions through the use of multiple flame tests.

  • Atomic Spectra, Identifying an Unknown, Electromagnetic Spectrum, Electrons | High School

    Lab: The Case of the Contaminated Well

    In this lab, students will observe the colors produced when different metal salt solutions are heated in a flame. Students will take on the role of a forensic investigator and use their results to help them determine if collected evidence was contaminated.

  • Atomic Spectra, Electromagnetic Spectrum, Electrons | High School

    Demonstration: Flame Test (Rainbow Demo)

    In this demonstration, students will observe the variety of colors produced when different metals or metallic salts are heated in a flame.

  • Identifying an Unknown, Electromagnetic Spectrum | Middle School, High School

    Video: Color Matching Paint Video

    This video explains how technology, specifically focusing on spectrophotometry, can be used for paint matching. Students will learn how the spectrophotometer interacts with the spectrum of visible light in order to match or reproduce specific paint colors.

  • Electromagnetic Spectrum, Emission Spectrum | Middle School

    Lesson Plan: Understanding Light & Color

    In this lesson students use spectroscopes to analyze the colors of sunlight reflected off a white surface, and determine various colors of light emitted by a multicolor LED bulb at different color settings. They predict what color an object will appear when observed under a certain color of light, and test their predictions with the LED bulb. Students explore how a color wheel can provide a useful model for determining the colors of light an object may absorb or reflect. Finally, students will investigate the color yellow. Many objects that appear yellow are not reflecting yellow light, but reflecting green and red. Students use their spectroscopes to search for objects that truly reflect yellow light.

  • Concentration, Electromagnetic Spectrum, Beer's Law | High School

    Lesson Plan: Using Color to Identify an Unknown

    In this lesson students will utilize spectrophotometry to identify the wavelength of maximum absorbance for a food dye. They will also generate a Beer's Law Standard Curve, and utilize their skills to identify the different dyes and their concentrations in an unknown mixture. The lesson culminates with an extension to utilizing a similar method in color matching paint.

  • Emission Spectrum, Electromagnetic Spectrum, Emission Spectrum, Electrons | Middle School, High School

    Lesson Plan: Let it Glow

    In this lesson students will investigate the fluorescence of a variety of everyday items as well as prepared samples under a black light. Students will examine the concepts of absorption and subsequent emission of photons, as well as wavelength, frequency, and energy of electromagnetic radiation. As extension activities, students will learn about phosphorescence and research real-life applications of photoluminescence.

  • Intermolecular Forces, Molecular Structure, Reduction, Redox Reaction, Electromagnetic Spectrum, Law of Conservation of Energy, Oxidation, Half Reactions, Oxidation Number | High School

    Lesson Plan: Fading Away

    In this lesson students will explore photodegradation of color. First, students will view how fading of paint has affected Van Gogh’s great works of art and the efforts that are being taken to conserve these works. While exploring, students will actively engage in research to relate the fading process to redox reactions, X-Ray diffraction, solute-solvent interactions, and light/energy calculations. Students will then act as an Engineering Task Force and brainstorm to identify how photodegradation affects modern day objects and plan how to address their fading in an effort to market to the airliner Jetstar

  • Mixtures, Intermolecular Forces, Molecular Formula, Polymers, Molecular Structure, Solute & Solvent, Intermolecular Forces, Electromagnetic Spectrum | Middle School, High School

    Video: What is Paint? Video

    This video investigates the composition of paint, while analyzing the fundamental chemistry principles of its main components. Students will learn about the differences between three common paint types, water colors, oil-based and acrylic paint as well as the chemistry of each.

  • Mixtures, Molecular Structure, Electromagnetic Spectrum | Middle School, High School

    Video: What are Pigments? Video

    This video discusses the chemistry of pigment molecules and how they are used to give paints their specific color. Students will learn about the importance of a pigment’s molecular structure, how they are physically suspended to create a paint color, as well as how they interact with light.

  • Electromagnetic Spectrum | High School

    Activity: Electromagnetic Spectrum Book

    In this activity, students will create a book that describes all of the individual parts that make up the electromagnetic spectrum.

  • Interdisciplinary, Atomic Spectra, Identifying an Unknown, Emission Spectrum, Electromagnetic Spectrum, Emission Spectrum | Middle School, High School

    Lab: Spectral Detective

    In this lab, students will use a spectroscope to view the atomic spectra of various unknown elements. Using their collected data in combination with known atomic spectra, they will identify the chemical elements.

  • Radiation, Electromagnetic Spectrum, Radiation | Middle School, High School

    Lab: The Most Effective Sunscreen

    In this lab, students will research and compare the effectiveness of various SPF levels in sunscreen lotions. The lotion’s ability to block UV (ultraviolet) radiation from the sun will be tested using a UV bead detector.    

  • Observations, Inferences, Atomic Spectra, Activity Series, Emission Spectrum, Electromagnetic Spectrum, Emission Spectrum, Ions | High School

    Lab: Flame Test: Going Further

    In this lab, students will investigate the colors produced when several mixtures of metallic ions are placed in a flame.

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