At Home Activities for K-8 Students

By AACT on March 24, 2020

Teaching physical science and chemistry is challenging even under ideal circumstances, but the emergence of COVID-19 is making it even more difficult. ACS and AACT are committed to helping K-8 science teachers provide quality resources to help them deliver engaging lessons to their students in the coming weeks.

The following K-8 teaching resources are currently unlocked and open to all educators (and parents!) to use with students. Each activity can be done with materials that are commonly found at home, and includes a short video of the activity. The presentation in the sidebar gives a quick overview of each activity and includes links to resources and the corresponding videos.

Chemical reactions! All students enjoy watching and performing them and these four resources include reactions that only use household chemicals.

  • The Inflating a Balloon with Chemistry demonstration uses the reaction between vinegar and baking soda to inflate a balloon and introduce the concept of a chemical reaction to students. In addition to observing the reactions, they will also identify evidence of a chemical change and talk about the different types of matter that are involved.
  • Then use the Comparing Chemical Reactions lab to compare the baking soda and vinegar reaction to that of Alka-Seltzer and water.They then analyze the results to help understand indicators of chemical change and determine if they are endo- or exothermic reactions.
  • The Simple Kinetics demonstration will allow your students to see how different colors of food dye react with household bleach at different rates. They then determine the slowest and fastest reaction and explain the rate of green and orange food dye, which are both mixture of two different dyes.
  • Students identify factors that indicate a chemical change has occurred while observing the production of Giant Toothpaste. This reaction uses simpler materials than those that are often used in the typical high school version of the elephant’s toothpaste demonstration.

Introduce the concept of density with the AACT Density animation. Then use the Will it Float? demonstration, floating an egg in plain water and salt water. Ask your students, “Why does the egg float in salt water and sink in plain water?” and have students draw a particle diagram like those in the animation. This resource covers the concepts of density, mass, volume, solutions, and observations.

There are several resources that help students understand gases and gas density:

  • The Investigating Gas Density demonstration involves the reaction of baking soda and vinegar, forming carbon dioxide, water, and salt. Students will observe a flame being extinguished as the carbon dioxide replaces the oxygen in the container. A similar activity, Fire Extinguisher, reacts baking soda and vinegar in a pitcher and you “pour” the carbon dioxide gas on to a group of tea candles to extinguish them. Both of the activities are sure to spark excitement and interest in your students.

Gas pressure can be explored with The Growing Marshmallow lab activity, allowing students to “feel” pressure and see the effect on volume.

Explore the effect of temperature on chemical and physical changes with these two activities:

  • Introduce particle motion by having students watch food dye mix with water at different temperatures with the What is Temperature activity. If you have elementary students, you can have them “act” like the molecules instead of drawing them!
  • Use the To What Degree Does it Matter lab to investigate the effect of temperature on reaction rate. Students add Alka-Seltzer to water and observe differences between reactions in cold, room temperature, and hot water.

And finally, these two activities will help your students make real world connections to chemistry:

  • In the My Pennies! lab, students use a mixture of salt and vinegar to remove the oxide coating from old pennies. This resource includes a link to the New York Historical Society “ When Did the Statue of Liberty Turn Green?” to help them relate what they observed with the pennies to the green color of the statue.
  • Your students will enjoy observing both physical and chemical changes with the Analyzing a Lava Lamp lab. They observations will include the formation of a gas, the difference in density between oil and water, and food coloring dissolving in water but not in oil.

We hope these teaching resources will help you plan lessons for your students while they learn remotely. Most of these lessons were made possible by great teachers who shared their own resources. We need your help to keep the collection growing. Do you have a great online or at-home demonstration, activity, or lesson that you would like to share with the community? Please send it along for consideration.