Earth Day is just around the corner. If you are looking for some ideas to highlight environmental issues, the Journal of Chemical Education is offering free access to many articles and activities that you will find interesting.
Water / Water Chemistry
In this Activity, students make a water filtration column using a 2-liter plastic beverage bottle that contains layers of gravel, sand, and activated charcoal. They prepare a contaminated sample of water and examine the filtration ability of the column. This environmental chemistry Activity can be used to complement a celebration of Earth Day.
In this Activity, students build models of polarized water molecules using K’nex toy components and adhesive Velcro. Students investigate hydrogen bonding by shaking the models in various ways. They observe the resulting interactions and relate their observations to physical states of water and the difference between strong bonds and weak attractions.
In this Activity, students investigate microwave popcorn, the process of microwave-promoted popping, and the materials involved: water, vegetable oils, starch, and special packaging materials. This Activity supports discussion of thermal and electromagnetic energy, phase changes, intermolecular forces, patterns of solubility, and the structure of fats, oils and starches.
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.
In this Activity, students perform quantitative calorimetric measurements on samples of ice/water heated by incandescent light bulbs and/or convection with room-temperature surroundings. They measure and graph temperature as a function of time.
In this Activity, students extract sodium zeolite A from powdered laundry detergent and examine its properties. The Activity helps students to apply their chemical knowledge to the realm of consumer products. It could be used as a lead-in for a discussion of environmental issues and water chemistry.
A cast iron bomb is completely filled with ice water, then placed into a dry-ice/acetone slush and covered with a wooden box. When the water in the bomb freezes, the cast iron bomb explodes, breaking into several pieces, and destroying the box in which it was placed.