environmental chemistry

Online Activity: Chemical Kinetics and the “Radium Girls”

The classic classroom or lab activity using coin flips to illustrate the first order kinetics of radioactive decay is connected to the tragedy of radiation exposure of workers at facilities using radium-containing luminescent paint. Some of the chemistry related to the contamination of these “radium girls” is explored, with connections being made to the Principles of Green Chemistry and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Free Climate Science Workbook for Teachers

The Wisconsin initiative for Science Literacy has published Science Climate Concepts Fit Your Classroom - A Workbook for Teachers. This is a free online Workbook, readily available for secondary teachers and college faculty. This workbook includes many hands on activities that incorporate traditional science classroom concepts within the context of climate science.

Microplastics, Liquid Nitrogen, and Iodine: Polystyrene vs. Starch Foam Packing Peanuts

The differing electrostatic and solubility properties of starch and polystyrene foam packing peanuts are used in various demonstrations to describe aspects of microplastics and their interactions with the environment. Their differing responses to exposure to liquid nitrogen and iodine solutions are also described.

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.

Aqueous red cabbage extracts: More than just a pH indicator

The use of anthocyanins in red cabbage extracts as pH indicators has long been a popular classroom activity. Flowers, fruits and vegetables contain a diverse range of anthocyanins. This investigation explores further applications of plant-derived dyes including reversible reactions based on oxidation/reduction chemistry and other reactions to illustrate colour changes that are not solely dependent on pH change. By using household materials and plant dyes, this investigation may potentially be completed at home if necessary.

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.