ChemEd X activities are student-centered resources intended to aid learning chemistry topics.
ChemEd X encourages engaging activities where students (with guidance from the teacher) pose questions, analyze data, and make observations to offer a plausible explanation supported by data and consistent with physical observations.
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. I have used a simple activity that 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.
Trends related to placement of elements on the periodic table are often taught using diagrams in a textbook. Students often memorize trends, but to get a true grasp of their meaning and what causes certain patterns is best understood when students create their own models and discuss the patterns with others.
A favorite demonstration is to boil water by lowering the pressure in a bell jar using a vacuum pump. Unfortunately, purchasing a bell jar, vacuum plate, and vacuum pump can run upwards of $1,000 which poses a hardship for many teachers. Here are two simple and inexpensive demonstrations of phase equilibrium and vapor pressure.
Looking to change up your titration lab? Citric acid is very common in candy and other foods. Students will be engaged in using titration to find the amount of the acid in Mentos Now or other candy. Student and teacher documents are provided to help you use the activity with your own students.
As many teachers are preparing for the possibility of teaching online next semester, we are revisiting posts from the ChemEd X archives like this one that might be of help. The author has updated this activity by adding notes specifically to help those teaching remotely. - Radioactivity is a topic in chemistry that can be difficult to teach. This activity offers a data-driven approach with a simulation students can use in school or in an online learning environment. This can be used to give students an authentic lab experience for them to determine there are three types of ionizing radiation without direct instruction.
The unit of acids and bases is difficult for most students in Advanced Placement Chemistry. The variety of various calculations can be overwhelming. The Acid Base Speed Dating Activity engages students in completing a series of problems. Each student is assigned a specific solution and then determines their individual pH to complete their personal “Solution Biography.” Then the speed dating begins! For each date, the students need to find a specific match and determine their combined pH value.
In an effort to align my lessons with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), I have tried to take the content I have traditionally taught, and shift the design to focus on student engagement with the science and engineering practices outlined in the standards. For the topic of heat transfer I re-packaged the ice melting blocks discrepant event as a NGSS investigative phenomena.
In this activity, students can look inside the model that resembles the atom and find information that reinforces what an isotope actually is. Furthermore, the quantitative data forces students to examine beliefs about different types of averages and what the numbers really mean. This takes a bit of effort to set up but is inexpensive and can be used year after year.
My first experiment involves measuring the density of water. Each group of two kids is assigned a specific volume of water from 10 to 100 mLs on the tens. They simply measure the mass of an empty graduated cylinder and then add the water and find the mass again. Once they have their data they go around the room and find another group that has one of the volumes that they need and get the data from them and record their names. Once complete they generate a graph of the data and answer a few simple questions. The whole procedure can be completed in about 20 minutes.
A classroom activity to demonstrate the principles of chemical kinetics and equilibria and the utility of the mole concept is described here. The activity involved no hazardous materials or complex equipment and can be enjoyed and appreciated by general studies students as well as chemistry majors.