Consumer Chemistry

Apple Fool! An Introduction to Artificial Flavors

In this Activity, students investigate flavorings by making artificial "cooked apples" from a mixture of crackers, sugar, cream of tartar, and water, as is done for the filling in recipes for Mock Apple Pie. This Activity focuses on consumer chemistry, and can be used to introduce natural and artificial flavors or lab experiments that make esters.

I Screen, You Screen, We All Screen for Phenolics

In this Activity, students use a colorimetric visualization test to screen grape juice for phenolic content. Students use the test to examine differences in phenolic content of juices prepared with different processing methods. Most of the materials are readily available at the supermarket.

Color My Nanoworld

This Activity introduces students to the unique properties of nanoscale materials through exploration of size-dependent optical properties of gold nanoparticles. Students first prepare a solution of gold nanoparticles. They then investigate the solution’s use as an electrolyte sensor by adding a non-electrolyte and a strong electrolyte, and observing any resulting color changes.

Garbage Juice: Waste Management and Leachate Generation

In this Activity, students use multi-colored breakfast cereal and liquid to model the concepts of leachate and leaching from municipal solid waste disposed of in a landfill. Students create a modern landfill model with the same material. This environmental chemistry Activity can be used to complement a celebration of Earth Day.

Hunting for Chemicals in Consumer Products

In this Activity, students use written clues to determine the identities of 12 chemical compounds. They write the name and chemical formula for each compound, and find a consumer product in which each compound is present. This Activity increases student awareness of the presence of a variety of chemical compounds in a range of common consumer products.

Fizzy Drinks: Stoichiometry You Can Taste

In this Activity, students make their own version of "Fizzies", a carbonated drink product. Students use different combinations of powdered drink mix, citric acid, baking soda, and water to try to create a good-tasting beverage. The Activity enables students to see the practical benefits of stoichiometry when they use it to develop a product they can immediately consume.

Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble

In this Activity, students first create a standard bubble solution by mixing water with liquid dishwashing detergent. They then add different substances to samples of the detergent solution. The solutions are compared to see which produces the longest-lasting bubbles. The Activity is a fun way to introduce the concepts of surface tension, intermolecular forces, and the use of surfactants.

Putting UV-Sensitive Beads to the Test

In this Activity, students observe UV-sensitive beads that have been melted into flat disks, explore the temperature behavior of the disks, and then use the disks to investigate the effectiveness of different sunscreens. The Activity shows applications of chemistry in the real world.

Chemical Methods for Developing Latent Fingerprints

In this Activity, students collect fingerprints and use three different methods to develop them: fingerprint powder, ninhydrin solution, and silver nitrate solution. The Activity could be related to the solubility of polar and nonpolar molecules, precipitation reactions, and oxidation-reduction reactions.