consumer chemistry

Sowing the Seeds of Science

“On the third day of Christmas, my mailman brought to me… three gardening catalogs.” Jumping the gun? Or marketing genius? The doldrums after the holiday were a perfect time for these pages with their promise of spring. Their arrival kicked off an evening of grand plans. Somewhere along the line, chemistry crept in.

The Scent of a Chemistry Flashback

You’ve heard the old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” How many words for a smell? A single whiff of a familiar scent can whisk me back into the past. Wash my hands with Dove soap—I find myself standing in my grandmother’s house. Walk by someone wearing Eternity cologne—I’m back in high school with an old boyfriend. Spray out a foamy mound of Barbasol shaving cream—I’m standing at an exhibit booth talking about the Journal of Chemical Education (JCE). That was a fragrant flashback moment I had last month. As I followed my nose to the past, it led me to a solution for the present.

Sweet Chemistry Resources for NCW

National Chemistry Week this October 19–25 offers a chance to take a trip to the candy shop with the theme "The Sweet Side of Chemistry—Candy." Looking for some tasty chemistry resources? Two upcoming webinars will help you stock up.

 

Back to School... with Candy

Making plans for back to school? Don’t forget the candy! It doesn’t sound like something a nutritionist would recommend, but what about a chemistry educator?

Whatever Floats (or Sinks) Your Can

In this Activity, students test whether cans of carbonated beverages sink or float in water and then determine whether caffeine content, soda color, or sugar content in the carbonated sodas is responsible for the buoyancy of the sealed cans. This Activity can be used as an introduction to density in a middle school physical science course, or a high school chemistry or physics course.

Colorful Lather Printing

In this Activity, students marble paper with shaving cream and food color while exploring water, polarity, and hydrophilic and hydrophobic materials. Although the Activity is familiar, it contains a new twist—exploring how a colored shaving cream mixture behaves when a drop of water is added. This Activity can be used to introduce the concepts of polarity, soaps, and surfactants.

Testing for Iodide in Table Salt

In this Activity, students use supermarket chemicals to test samples of table salt for the presence of iodine, an essential micronutrient added as iodide ion. The presence of iodide in the salt is made apparent by the appearance of a blue color.

Apple Fool! An Introduction to Artificial Flavors

In this Activity, students investigate flavorings by making artificial "cooked apples" from a mixture of crackers, sugar, cream of tartar, and water, as is done for the filling in recipes for Mock Apple Pie. This Activity focuses on consumer chemistry, and can be used to introduce natural and artificial flavors or lab experiments that make esters.

Some Like It Hot, Some Like It Cold

In this Activity, students combine liquids in a calorimeter and use a thermometer to determine if the reaction mixture gets hot or cold. All of the chemicals (yeast, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar and baking soda) except ammonium nitrate, are available in supermarkets.

Calories - Who's Counting?

In this Activity, students determine how many calories are released per gram when marshmallows and cashews burn and then compare the quantity of energy available from carbohydrates versus fats. Students burn the food items beneath a metal soft drink can containing water and measure the resulting change in temperature of the water.