consumer chemistry

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.

A Magnetic Meal

In this Activity, students make slurries of breakfast cereal and water and use a magnetic wand to collect elemental iron filings that are present in some cereals. They determine the mass of iron collected and then calculate the "recommended daily allowance" (RDA) in each cereal. An extension uses qualitative tests to confirm that the material collected is actually iron.

Chemistry of Cement

In this Activity, students use a commercial cement mix to produce concrete. They investigate how changing key variables such as concentrations, curing temperatures, and the addition of various substances affects properties such as setting time, hardness, and plasticity.

Through the Looking Glass

In this Activity, students compare several different window cleaner recipes to determine the purpose each ingredient in a window cleaner serves. They use different combinations of water (solvent), isopropyl alcohol (wetting agent), and ammonia (grease cutter). They then develop their own "New and Improved" recipe to test its performance against commercial window cleaner.

What's Gluep? Characterizing a Cross-Linked Polymer

In this Activity, students make a cross-linked polymer called "gluep" using white glue and borax solution. They then investigate its properties, and "un-gluep" and "re-gluep" it using vinegar and baking soda. This Activity can be used in discussions of polymers or properties of liquids and solids. It demonstrates the composition and alternative use of a common household product.

Hunting for Chemicals in Consumer Products

In this Activity, students use written clues to determine the identities of 12 chemical compounds. They write the name and chemical formula for each compound, and find a consumer product in which each compound is present. This Activity increases student awareness of the presence of a variety of chemical compounds in a range of common consumer products.

Fizzy Drinks: Stoichiometry You Can Taste

In this Activity, students make their own version of "Fizzies", a carbonated drink product. Students use different combinations of powdered drink mix, citric acid, baking soda, and water to try to create a good-tasting beverage. The Activity enables students to see the practical benefits of stoichiometry when they use it to develop a product they can immediately consume.

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.