Science Practice: Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating information

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. 

Exploration of Gas Laws Using Atomsmith Online

Using the online simulation tool (Atomsmith Classroom Online) and the ADI framework students investigate the properties of gases, along with two gas laws. An ADI "whiteboard discussion" helps in getting students to really process what the results of experiments mean to us as chemists - and how this leads to expanding our understanding of matter. This activity lends itself to an online classroom.

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.

Airbag challenge

In the “Airbag challenge” the students are tasked with developing a safe airbag for a car company. This formative assessment explores students’ thinking about the question “How can chemical changes be controlled?” The central concept in this challenge is the application is stoichiometry. Students are expected to use the numbers of moles of reactant consumed or product formed in a balanced chemical equation and to determine the change in the number of moles of any other reactant and product. Students need to use molar mass to convert mass of a reactant or product to moles for use in stoichiometric calculations or to convert moles from stoichiometric calculations to mass. Students use the ideal gas law equation to determine the numbers of moles in a sample of gas not at standard conditions.

Filling the Void: Options for Authentic Investigations Online

With the school year quickly approaching, science teachers will at some point need to decide the role of laboratory investigation within their new learning environment. To help this decision-making process, the author focuses on two available options that he believes have the greatest potential for offering a legitimate approach toward authentic investigations in a digital environment.

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.

Making a (big) eruption with chemistry!

As teachers, we can leverage fruitful discussions about chemical control with students to elicit more about students' initial ideas and ways of reasoning. From asking students to clarify their own thinking, we can identify students’ own productive ideas that we can capitalize on to advance their thinking.

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.