One challenge we encounter in teaching and learning chemistry is connecting the macroscopic and atomic views of matter. Another challenge, complicated by well-meaning but scientifically-weak advertising, is demystifying the word “chemical”. In fact, chemicals make up ALL the matter around us. This activity aims to boost students’ confidence in representing the atomic world. It also aims to educate both students and the general public about the “chemicals” found in everyday objects (see figure 1).
Figure 1: Assignment Template
Whether students are in an introductory Physical Science course, in AP Chemistry, or at the collegiate level, the activity can enhance student understanding of the atomic world around them to the degree the teacher chooses. The finished product might be attached to a countertop of a student who is remote learning, or nearby a door handle at a school, or by a shoe, or above a faucet. See figure 2 for examples of student projects.
Figure 2: Examples of student poster projects.
The audience of this activity is, first, the students, but next (and intentionally) the people who will pass by the posters, pictures, and drawings that reveal the atomic world around us. Figure 3 shows the label that is attached to student posters in the hallway.
Figure 3: Labels to attach to student work around the hallways
Related Content Areas:
- Types of Elements (metallic, non-metallic)
- Types of Bonds (covalent, ionic, network solid, metallic)
- Representing Atoms vs. Molecules vs. Ions
- VSEPR (angles, shapes)
- Particulate Diagramming of Reactions and Changes
- Manufacturing & Material Function
- States of Matter (solids, liquids, gases, intermolecular forces)
chemistry of materials
NGSS Alignment: SC.HS.3.3.D “Communicate scientific and technical information about why the molecular-level structure is important in the functioning of designed materials.”
markers / colored pencils
glue / tape
Modifications for Remote or Low Technology are provided in italics.
1) Pick an object around the school...or home
2) Take a picture of the object...or draw the object, or find a picture online
3) Print off the picture...or draw it
4) Make a poster as shown in Figure 1...or Google Slide / Powerpoint
5) Research the substance and what it’s made of.
6) Tape up the poster near the actual object.
Modeling in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to using, synthesizing, and developing models to predict and show relationships among variables between systems and their components in the natural and designed worlds.
Modeling in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to using, synthesizing, and developing models to predict and show relationships among variables between systems and their components in the natural and designed worlds. Use a model to predict the relationships between systems or between components of a system.