New AACT Resources to Help You Teach Chemistry Basics

By Kim Duncan on August 22, 2019

As chemistry teachers around the country head back into their classrooms and begin planning activities for their students, AACT will be highlighting resources from our high school resource library that can be used to reinforce topics in different units throughout the school year. We’re beginning the year with articles, videos, simulations, and activities that could be used to support a Chemistry Basics unit.

In the fall of 2017 we posted a list of resources and articles that could be used to help teachers start the school year. We followed up in August 2018 with new resources related to the same topic. Since then, we have again added more resources that you might consider trying with your students. Additionally, we have updated our unit plan to help you teach an introductory unit on chemistry basics.

Laboratory Safety

Use one or more of the videos in our ACS Chemical Safety video series to introduce important safety concepts to your students. This series includes five student videos and one video for teacher use. All of the videos are unlocked so that your students can access them. Student videos include: Safety Mindset, Safety Data Sheets (SDS), How to Dress for the Lab and Personal Protective Equipment, Preparing for Emergencies, and RAMP for Students. The final video, RAMP for Teachers, outlines steps you can take to make sure your students are as safe as possible while exploring and experimenting in the lab.

The Hazard Symbols activity from the May 2018 issue of Chemistry Solutions is a great way to familiarize your students with common hazard symbols and their meaning. If you use this activity, you may want to follow up with the activity Analyzing & Creating Safety Labels to further help your students understand the color and symbols on the Safety Diamond and apply their knowledge to interpreting a chemical label.

Laboratory Equipment

Introduce your students to basic lab equipment with The Essentials for Survival activity. In addition to learning about equipment, students will model appropriate group work, class discussions and practice wiring efficient Claim-Evidence-Reasoning (CER) reports.

Introductory Topics

You may want to start the year showing one of the videos from our multimedia library.

  • The Ancient Chemistry Video traces the history of chemistry from the discovery of fire, through the various metal ages, and finally to the great philosophers. This resource includes an activity sheet for students to use while viewing the video.
  • Another option is the video, Frontiers of Chemistry that explores new scientific developments made possible by the application of fundamental chemistry concepts. This video also includes a student activity sheet.

  • The activity, Visualizing States of Matter has students view, sort and classify pure substances and mixtures into the 3 common states of matter found in the laboratory. They then discuss their classification system with their teacher and peers. This resource is aligned with NGSS. Assess your students’ understanding of the concept with a 10 question quiz in the States of Matter and Phase Changes simulation. This activity challenges students to identify the correct state of matter and connect it with an animated particle diagram.
  • Finish the unit with the Chemistry Basics Advanced Crossword Puzzle to assess your students’ understanding of fundamental chemistry topics. There is also a version of the puzzle written for middle school students.

Culminating Activities

If time permits, you may want to use one of the following resources as a culminating event for this introductory unit:

  • In the activity, Lab Safety, You’re Fired!, students read an account of a laboratory tour which details numerous safety infractions. They are then charged with identifying the safety violations and determining which scientist working in the lab should be fired.
  • Students research an actual industrial chemical accident in the project, Chemical Disasters: Good Chemicals Gone Bad! by examining the chemicals involved including uses, hazards, chemical and physical properties.

We hope that these resources can help you to reinforce several of the topics covered in a unit about Chemistry Basics. 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 demonstration, activity, or lesson related to this topic that you would like to share with the community? Please send it along for consideration.