Consumer Chemistry

Element of the Month - Sulfur

In honor of the International Year of the Periodic Table: A familiarity with the chemistry of some of the elements more commonly encountered in everyday life is a valuable learning experience for all students. Sulfur is the fourth in this series of elements to be discussed as part of the Element of the Month program. #IYPT

Detection of Nickel Cations in Coins

It is not known why people develop allergies to nickel and there is no cure. The best course of action to prevent an allergic reaction is to avoid contact with products containing nickel. This article will explain how to make an easy and cheap nickel detection device that will limit or eliminate the risks of exposure to sources of nickel using some interesting classic chemistry. 

Acid, Base, pH and Food Chemistry

I try to examine activities an multiple levels. First on the list, I want to know if my students will be engaged and learn something. Second, how difficult is it for me as a teacher to actually pull it off? One of the most important questions...are the students learning chemistry or just having fun? This is the first year I have attempted the following activity.  Students were engaged in the real world connection, they asked questions, it transitioned into some chemistry concepts and even some parents got involved. The activity involved acid, bases, pH and food.

Self-Healing Concrete

Typically we think that the wear and tear of automobiles on the roads causes concrete roads to deteriorate, eventually causing potholes and requiring the use of patching. Regular maintenance, like patching, gets expensive over time. If we were to zoom in on a microscopic level we’d see microscopic cracks that allow in water, salts, and ice. Since ice has the ability to expand, the tiny little cracks will become big noticeable cracks.

Toward roads that de-ice themselves

This year in the midwest United States, winter has been a fickle friend. I haven’t seen the same amount of snow or ice as in recent years, but I still made sure I was prepared for it at our home by stocking up on calcium chloride to use as a de-icer on my driveway and sidewalks. 

Especially JCE: January 2016

I had a conversation with a college freshman after church last Sunday. She had recently wrapped up her first semester’s courses, which included chemistry. I asked what she thought of the class. What would you predict her response to be? It was, “I’m glad there are people out there like you who like chemistry,” but it wasn’t for her. She had survived it, and it was done.

Chemistry At the Mall

My local chapter of the American Chemical Society sponsors an annual event at a local mall called “Chemistry at the Mall”. The event is in celebration of National Chemistry Week. This year’s theme is “The Sweet Side of Chemistry – Candy”. I advise an ACS ChemClub and we hosted a table at “Chemistry at the Mall”. Ten student members worked shifts from 11am – 4pm. This was a great way to get involved with my local chapter and meet some other members. My students had a great time providing outreach and introducing young children to chemistry.