Environmental Chemistry

Surveying Litter as a Citizen Science Chemistry Activity

During the last few semesters, a small survey has been deployed at Bradley University where students were to describe and classify items of litter that they found. The purposes of the surveys were to get students thinking about some of the chemical implications of solid waste and give the students some experience with a citizen science project. The most recent iteration of the survey, and some of its results, are described.

Organic Chemistry and Tree Fruit: The Control of Ethylene-Induced Ripening of Fruit in Cold Storage Warehouses

Ethylene, C2H4, a volatile plant hormone stimulates fruit ripening and is also released during ripening. This post explains the role of ethylene in ripening and presents how the chemical identity of the ethylene scavenger used to suppress premature ripening during storage was determined.

Color Changing Coke and Mentos

What's a better way to start the new school year than with some new experiments? Learn how to use a variety of color changing experiments to teach students about the Diet Coke and Mentos experiment, acids, bases, chemical and physical changes, and climate change.

Ice Cores, Stable Isotopes, Climate Change, and Chemistry: Part 2

Two important types of information obtained from ice cores comes from the bubbles in the glacial ice and the stable oxygen and hydrogen isotopes within the frozen water molecules themselves. This post describes how the bubbles (air pocket 'fossils') and stable isotopes are used to determine the concentration of gases in the ancient atmosphere, particularly in relation to past temperatures.

Ice Cores, Stable Isotopes, Climate Change, and Chemistry

Ice core science is truly cross-disciplinary as it draws extensively from chemistry, geophysics, geology, engineering, oceanography, microbiology, statistics, a deep understanding of historical events, atmospheric science, and climate science. And general chemistry topics include solubility, concentration, phase diagrams and changes, and stable isotopes in addition to many others. Let's take a first look at how ice core science can be used in teaching chemistry.