organic

How Chemistry Helped Batman: Kevlar - A short review

I’ve always been fascinated by advanced polymeric materials; it’s amazing how materials that are generally considered “plastics” have such stunning properties. I recently watched a couple of movies about Batman and it came out that some of his devices and protections are made of advanced polymers. In particular, the suit is almost entirely made of Kevlar.

Soap Making

Heidi Parks offers a soap-making lab or activity that can be run in a chemistry class with 25-30 students working at the same time. She usually does this activity right before spring break, as it provides enough time for the soap to harden and cure (high school students are impatient to use their soaps right away, which you should not do with cold process soap). She has used this soap making activity at different points in the curriculum: during intermolecular forces, during acids and bases, and during stoichiometry. 

Creating an Organic Chemistry Reaction Pathways Flowchart as a Unit Summary

For a recent unit on organic chemistry for my IB students, I tried something new. I gave them a handout with a list of organic compounds (by class/functional group) and a list of mechanisms and reaction types. Their task (in small groups), using either butcher paper or a large whiteboard, was to create a flow chart of reaction pathways.

Building Models of Isomers

Students will build models of isomers while the instructor walks around from station to station to critique the models. If the model is incorrect, the students rebuild until they get it right. The paper that accompanies this assignment is very easy to grade. 

Silver Plated Bulbs

I have used several different versions of the Silver Mirror or Tollen's Test lab. I am sharing the method that has proven to be the most reliable for me. The solutions should be made fresh, the directions must be followed closely and timing is very important. I like the fact that relatively small amounts of the chemicals are required, but as always you must be vigilant with safety precautions. 

The Mystery of the Burning Water: An Update

Tom Kuntzleman loves to share chemical mysteries and that inspired me to create a list of mysteries that are appropriate for the main topics covered in IB Chemistry. In this blog post I'd like to share some detail about how I modified the mystery of the burning water.

Titration of an Esterification Reaction to Determine Equilibrium Constant

This activity was submitted for a 2016 ChemEd X Call for Contributions soliciting input regarding the big ideas being put forth by organizations like AP. The author shares a lab activity that relies on connections - between stoichiometry, esterification, equilibrium, kinetics, titrations and uncertainty of calculations. He also shares the resources he created.