I have tried many different methods to demonstrate or perform displacement reactions over the years with mixed results regarding one particular metal, aluminium. Based upon my experience, the behavior of aluminium in displacement reactions often confuses students.
The science behind the incredibly popular Scrub Daddy sponge is investigated. Part of the appeal of the Scrub Daddy sponge is that it changes from soft to hard depending upon temperature. This allows a single sponge to be transformed into a hard scrubber or soft sponge, depending upon the temperature of water into which it is placed.
Density Bottles can be used to teach a variety of chemical concepts such as density, solubility, and polarity. In this post it is shown that Density Bottles can also be used to differentiate between heterogeneous and homogeneous mixtures, and to explore light scattering.
Decorative beads are tested for the presence of iron pyrite, or FeS2, in an activity well-suited for the National Chemistry Week theme of "Chemistry Rocks!"
I have been in the lab conducting tests on the chemical and physical properties of various geological samples. In my investigations I’ve found that hematite is a particular mineral that is easy to acquire and quite amenable to experimentation.
I recently watched a video in which a chemist (who goes by the nickname “NurdRage”) activated a chemiluminescent reaction by vapor deposition. I wanted to try it out for myself! Unfortunately, oxalyl chloride is toxic, corrosive, and a lachrymator. Thus, the experiment conducted by NurdRage needs to be conducted in a hood, and it is not particularly amenable to simple presentations. I began to wonder how I could create this vapor activated chemiluminescence using simple materials.
In Chemical Mystery #10, plastic straws are observed to “magically” change color when waved in the air. Check out the explanation and the video.
In this simple trick, colors are made to "magically" appear and disappear on a straw. This science experiment is very easy to do...if you know your chemistry!
If rhubarb stem is placed in a solution of permanganate, the purple permanganate ion is reduced to the colorless Mn2+ ion. It is thought that the oxalic acid present in rhubarb causes this reduction. The investigations presented in this post provide evidence that this may not be the whole story...
When describing abstract concepts like chemical bonding, it always seems to feel far too easy for both teachers and students to resort to the “wants” and “needs” of atoms. After all, we understand what it means to want, need, or like something, so it often feels appropriate (and easier) to use a relatable metaphor or subtly anthropomorphize these atoms to accommodate our students’ current reasoning abilities. While predicting the types of bonds that will form and the general idea behind how atoms bond can be answered correctly using such relatable phrases or ideas, the elephant in the room still in remains—do our students really understand why these atoms bond?