pHantastic Fluorescence

In this Activity, students extract a fluorescent substance from shavings of narra wood. The pH-dependent fluorescence can be turned on and off using household acid and base solutions. A yellow filter blocks the exciting light but not the fluorescent emission. This Activity gets students thinking about the interaction of light and molecules.

A Kool Reaction from the Fine Print

In this Activity, students gain an understanding of the importance of reading reagent labels both in chemistry class and on consumer products. Students explore the chemistry behind the directive on a package of Kool-Aid "Do not store in a metal container". The Activity illustrates properties of acids and metals.

How Does Your Laundry Glow?

In this Activity, students examine the effect of pH on the intensity and color of the emission of fluorescent dyes in liquid laundry detergent. They perform two titrations using vinegar to estimate the pH at which the fluorescence properties change. In the second titration, sodium bicarbonate is added to buffer the detergent solution.


In this Activity, students make soap using vegetable shortening as a base. They then test its properties and compare it to commercial soap. This Activity introduces students to an important reaction of organic chemistry. It helps students connect chemistry to something that they see and use every day and provides an opportunity for cross-curricular work.

Colors to Dye for: Preparation of Natural Dyes

In this Activity, students extract colored compounds from onion skins and blueberries, use them to dye white cloth, and investigate ways to change the color and prevent it from washing out. The Activity ties into the history of dyes. A study of the structures of dye molecules can be integrated into a discussion of organic chemistry and functional groups.

The Write Stuff: Using Paper Chromatography to Separate an Ink Mixture

In this Activity, students perform a variation on the standard paper chromatography separation of black ink. They compare the separation of black ink using four different solvents: water, rubbing alcohol, vinegar, and household ammonia, and then mixtures of the four. It introduces students to methods of selecting the best solvent for a separation and the effects of adding acid and base.

More Than Meets the Eye: Nonvisual Observations in Chemistry

In this Activity, a blindfolded student, with another student as an assistant, observes the reaction between baking soda and cream of tartar in solution in a plastic bag. The Activity could be used at the start of a chemistry course to emphasize the importance of using all appropriate senses to make observations.

Flat As a Pancake? Exploring Rising in Baked Goods

In this Activity, students investigate the action of leavening agents in baked goods. They first compare the results when leavening agents are added to water, with and without heating. They then prepare biscuits using dough that has been placed in different temperature environments and compare them. Preparing the biscuits requires an oven.

Cabbage Patch Chemistry

In this Activity, students investigate the fermentation process by making sauerkraut and test the effect of changing one variable in the sauerkraut-making process. The Activity involves students for an entire month, the length of the fermentation process.