Putting UV-Sensitive Beads to the Test

In this Activity, students observe UV-sensitive beads that have been melted into flat disks, explore the temperature behavior of the disks, and then use the disks to investigate the effectiveness of different sunscreens. The Activity shows applications of chemistry in the real world.


In this Activity, students make soap using vegetable shortening as a base. They then test its properties and compare it to commercial soap. This Activity introduces students to an important reaction of organic chemistry. It helps students connect chemistry to something that they see and use every day and provides an opportunity for cross-curricular work.

Chemical Methods for Developing Latent Fingerprints

In this Activity, students collect fingerprints and use three different methods to develop them: fingerprint powder, ninhydrin solution, and silver nitrate solution. The Activity could be related to the solubility of polar and nonpolar molecules, precipitation reactions, and oxidation-reduction reactions.

Just Breathe: The Oxygen Content of Air

In this Activity, students determine the concentration (percent volume) of oxygen in air. They place small quantities of fine steel wool into a test tube that is then inverted in a beaker of water. Oxygen in the trapped air reacts with the iron to form rust. The Activity ties in well with atmospheric chemistry.

Colors to Dye for: Preparation of Natural Dyes

In this Activity, students extract colored compounds from onion skins and blueberries, use them to dye white cloth, and investigate ways to change the color and prevent it from washing out. The Activity ties into the history of dyes. A study of the structures of dye molecules can be integrated into a discussion of organic chemistry and functional groups.

Charge It! An Activity with Electricity

In this Activity, students investigate static electricity. They observe that charged objects attract a narrow stream of water, and find that charged combs and glass rods have opposite charges. This Activity could be used to introduce the notion of positive and negative electric charge. It is appropriate when studying atomic theory, and when introducing electrochemistry.

Putting It All Together: Lab Reports and Legos

In this Activity, students study a structure made from Lego blocks and then attempt to build the structure from memory. During a second examination of the structure, students write building instructions. The instructions are then given to another student who attempts to recreate the structure without looking at the original.

Magic Sand

In this Activity, students compare the behavior of Magic Sand and ordinary sand. They then predict and observe how new substances will interact with Magic Sand based on their observations. The Activity illustrates solubility principles, and the terms hydrophilic and hydrophobic. It also allows for extension into the practical realm, where students formulate real-world uses for Magic Sand.

On the Surface: Mini-Activities Exploring Surface Phenomena

In this Activity, students investigate surface tension and surfactants. They count the number of drops they can place on a penny, attempt to make a "square" of drops, and create bubbles using differently-shaped wands. These mini-activities could be used to introduce surface tension and surface area when discussing properties of liquids and gases.

Pigments of Your Imagination: Making Artist's Paints

In this Activity, students make and examine the characteristics of egg tempera paint. Instructors may also wish to emphasize the chemistry of paint and pigments, the history of the development of different types of paints, or to attempt to duplicate commercial paints as closely as possible. This Activity might be used to integrate chemistry into an art class.