Kool-aid, Cotton, and Intermolecular Forces

Red dye #40 found in strawberry Kool-Aid and various cloth fibers can be used in a very simple experiment that can teach students about intermolecular forces. A video is included that describes the experiment and analysis of results. 

The Gas Laws Are Out of This World!

A few years ago, we launched a weather balloon during our summer science camp. The balloon reached an altitude of 30 km (100,000 ft)! Among other things, this project ended up being a great way to teach campers about the gas laws and how atmospheric pressure decreases with altitude. 

“In the Lab before Christmas” – A Chemical Demonstration and Education Show

Most chemical educators will agree that exciting demonstrations are excellent motivators to create interest in science. They are also a way to create interest in the community, motivate the student-demonstrators, and perhaps to make a little money to support special activities of an ACS Chem Club. Chemical demonstration shows, organized around holidays or other special occasions have a long and honored history.  Pacifica High School (Garden Grove, CA) took its inspiration from the lecture-demonstrations of Michael Faraday, given during the Christmas holidays of 1860-61. (The Chemical History of A Candle).

A Halloween Chemistry Show

An outline for the Halloween Chemistry Show Demonstration at Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame IN, is presented. Organized by Saint Mary’s Affiliate of the American Chemical Society (SMAACS) student club, this show has become an annual event with an average attendance of over 200 people. The club’s main goal is to generate interest in the sciences among children; while stimulating a pursuit for continued education and hopefully future careers in STEM fields. The Halloween Chemistry Show aspires to that goal by providing an interactive experience for all children in attendance while presenting thought-provoking demonstrations for the entire audience.


Chemistry Olympiad

I have taught for almost 30 years and have attended my fair share of professional development. Many of these have been very good (ChemEd, BCCE, ACS, NSTA, and ICE) but nothing has been as motivating, influential, and beneficial to my career as getting involved in the Chemistry Olympiad. Every year, the ACS sponsors a local section contest for high school students.

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.