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.

A Highly-Scaffolded Activity for Helping Students Generate Exam Review Questions and See Patterns in Quantitative Problem Solving

Helping students develop abstract understanding is a universal goal. This article describes an activity that involves students developing and then solving novel quantitative chemistry problems following a MadLibsTM style framework.

NGSS-ify Alka-Seltzer Rocket Activity - With Virtual Options

In this lab students are given a film canister, a quantity of Alka Seltzer of their own choosing and any materials available in the room to investigate factors that affect the rate of reaction. They work with their groups to create CER boards and then the class engages in a Glow and Grow session. Tips for using this activity in a virtual setting are offered as well. 

Chemical Illustrations of Flattening the Curve

With the current global COVID-19 pandemic, there has been much discussion of “flattening the curve” by social distancing. These ideas can be demonstrated chemically, for example, by the iron-catalyzed decomposition of hydrogen peroxide to produce an oxygen gas foam. Decreased hydrogen peroxide concentrations, representing decreased human population concentrations from social distancing, produce oxygen gas foam, representing cases of illness, at a slower rate. A similar demonstration can be achieved using the popular Diet Coke and Mentos experiment. These simple experiments are best used as stand-alone demonstrations.

Chemical Kinetics with a Smartphone

This experiment in chemical kinetics can be conducted using materials as simple as a smartphone, hydrogen peroxide, sodium carbonate solution, and blue food dye! The experiment is useful when discussing the order of rate laws with respect to reactants.

NGSS-ify Alka-Seltzer Rockets

Given a guiding question, students determined what they wanted to test, did the experiment and got their CER boards ready for review. Instead of a regular argumentation session, we had a glow and grow session, where students had to provide positive and negative feedback for each board.