Consumer Chemistry

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.

Just Breathe: The Oxygen Content of Air

In this Activity, students determine the concentration (percent volume) of oxygen in air. They place small quantities of fine steel wool into a test tube that is then inverted in a beaker of water. Oxygen in the trapped air reacts with the iron to form rust. The Activity ties in well with atmospheric chemistry.

Charge It! An Activity with Electricity

In this Activity, students investigate static electricity. They observe that charged objects attract a narrow stream of water, and find that charged combs and glass rods have opposite charges. This Activity could be used to introduce the notion of positive and negative electric charge. It is appropriate when studying atomic theory, and when introducing electrochemistry.

Pigments of Your Imagination: Making Artist's Paints

In this Activity, students make and examine the characteristics of egg tempera paint. Instructors may also wish to emphasize the chemistry of paint and pigments, the history of the development of different types of paints, or to attempt to duplicate commercial paints as closely as possible. This Activity might be used to integrate chemistry into an art class.