Exploring TikTok’s Impact on My Chemistry Classroom

Exploring Tik Tok's Impact on My Chemistry Classroom - preview image with the "play" arrow and "like-thumbs up" symbols

In January 2020, as my 9th-period honors chemistry class kicked off, my students playfully challenged me to join TikTok, an app that I was only vaguely familiar with. Never one to back down from a challenge posed by my students, I decided to call their bluff and over the weekend I downloaded the app and began exploring it. I recorded, edited, and posted a low-quality video that received a few thousand views. What started as a light-hearted dare soon became something much larger. Little did I know how this decision would enhance rapport with my students and become an integral part of my classroom dynamic, helping them learn and understand chemistry.  

Video 1: Chemical Reactions without a catalyst, @c_kurowski on TikTok, accessed April 2, 2024.


While I was familiarizing myself with the app, I was actively thinking about how I could use this medium, where viewers engage in extremely short videos, to teach chemistry content. How can I incorporate this into my chemistry instruction? While scrolling through the “For You Page” (TikTok’s version of their homepage similar to those of Facebook or Instagram), I would take note of certain sound clips or trends that other content creators were using. I then would think about how I could incorporate chemistry into that sound clip or trend. For example, for a popular sound clip or trend where things were going well and then suddenly go wrong, I might show a titration with a strong base and phenolphthalein indicator before the endpoint, and then what it would look like after accidentally overshooting the endpoint. The iconic dark pink color would linger in the Erlenmeyer flask. This is a shared experience among many novice titrators or new chemistry students. The comment section would be filled with high school and college students, along with a few teachers, talking about their own titration experiences, while sharing some of their own successful titration strategies. While reading some of the comments and replying to many of them myself, I realized that there was real learning occurring in these conversations.

Readers can follow Chris at c_kurowski

Total Followers: 357,500

Total Video Views: 156,317,008

Total Video Likes: 23,304,372

Total Video Comments: 295,342

Total Video Shares: 867,870

*Stats as of 3/26/2024


Before I knew it, I had students sharing their own ideas for chemistry-themed TikTok videos with me. Some would see a trend and share it with me or even write their ideas down on a piece of paper and give it to me before class started. My students were constantly tagging me in other chemistry videos they saw that they either understood or wanted to learn more about. I was recently talking to a small group of students about how there was a particular sound clip I wanted to use in a video, but couldn’t quite think of how to tie it all together. At the time we were studying thermodynamics and calorimetry. Within just a minute or two, my students and I were able to come up with an idea using the specific heat of water. Another example involved reviewing various geometries of the VSEPR Theory, where I “became” the shape by acting out the different geometries and bond angles. Videos I create relating to significant figures always garner quite a number of comments, as one can imagine. Many of my first-year chemistry students often get excited when they realize they “get” more and more of the content in the videos I create as they progress through the course. I have had other students intentionally scroll through my videos and try to explain them to their friends as a means of studying for an exam.    

Video 2: Surface Area Demonstration, @c_kurowski on TikTok, accessed April 2, 2024.


My experience with TikTok in my chemistry classroom has been energizing. From increasing student engagement and rapport to fostering meaningful learning experiences, TikTok has become a valuable tool in teaching chemistry. I encourage any teachers who may be “on the fence” about TikTok to explore its potential. It can provide educators another way to resonate with today’s digital-native students, making learning both enjoyable and effective.