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.
Gas Laws are an essential and easily accessible area of chemistry to understand. They can be an excellent foothold into the inner workings of chemistry. On December 9th, 2021, Daniel Radoff shared his unit covering gas laws in this ChemBasics Talk. You can view a recording of his presentation and access materials he has suggested.
There are some simple ways to break chemical bonds with microscale techniques.
Check out this citizen science inspired review of anthocyanin extractions that can be attempted at home
Natural food dyes are being sold online and in stores that can be used as acid-base indicators. These dyes open up a host of possibilities for at-home and in-class. For example, these food dyes can be used as indicators in the quantitative titration of the Mg(OH)2 in milk of magnesia.
Thin sheets of polystyrene can be patterned with permanent markers to represent repeating units of the polymer and then shrunk down in size using heat. The shrunken models of the repeating units can be connected with a string and then flipped into positions to demonstrate different types of polymer tacticity.
The lab activity shared here is a simple experiment where students use stoichiometric principles to experimentally determine the amount of sodium bicarbonate in an Alka-Seltzer tablet. Novice students tend to find stoichiometric calculations difficult, so practicing the calculations on a pre-lab assignment boosts their confidence and ultimately leads to more successful labs. The Asynchronous Video Pre-Lab Assignment shared here demonstrates the procedure and the calculations required in the experiment.
Atomic theory is a common topic throughout any introductory chemistry course. It is likely that Rutherford’s gold foil experiment gets at least some attention in your course. This simple activity gives students an opportunity to replicate Rutherford’s experiment through an analogy experiment that may allow for easier conceptualization of the experiment itself and provide additional support for model development.
Addition of a small amount of azobenzene to eicosane can lower its melting point to where it can be melted by body heat. This can be used in demonstrations and classroom activities related to freezing point depression and phase diagrams.
Thermal paper such as that used for point of sale receipts typically functions by darkening when exposed to heat. The pigment system used in this paper also darkens when exposed to solvents of intermediate polarity and acids. This enables thermal paper to be used as an inexpensive sort of indicator paper for a variety of demonstrations.