Consumer Chemistry

An After-Dinner Trick

In this Activity, students investigate a classic chemistry demonstration that uses the phenomenon of freezing-point depression to lift an ice cube out of a glass of water with a thread. They first test how adding salt, pepper, cream, and sugar to cold water affects the temperature.

Liver and Onions: DNA Extraction from Animal and Plant Tissues

In this Activity, students extract DNA from liver and onion cells, and precipitate the DNA. The Activity fits well with a discussion of nucleic acids, hydrogen bonding, genetic coding, and heredity. DNA extraction can also be used in conjunction with a discussion of polymers and their properties.

Meltdown Showdown! Which Deicer Works Best?

In this Activity, students test two chemical deicers, rock salt (sodium chloride) and calcium chloride, to determine which melts ice better and whether it is worth the extra cost to buy a more expensive deicer. They perform three tests comparing the two deicers, predict which will be more effective at melting through a thin disk of ice, and then test their prediction.

The Effects of Temperature on Lightsticks

In this Activity, students observe and compare the behavior of three lightsticks that are exposed to three different temperature ranges (cold, room temperature, and hot). The Activity could be used early in the school year to give students practice in making detailed observations and devising reasonable explanations for those observations. It illustrates the use of qualitative vs.

Brushing Up on Chemistry

In this Activity, students make their own toothpaste and use various tests to compare its properties with those of commercial toothpaste. This includes testing its ability to remove stains from the dyed shells of hard-boiled eggs. The Activity allows students to discover more about a cleaning product they use every day.

Soup or Salad? Investigating the Action of Enzymes in Fruit on Gelatin

In this Activity, students observe gelatin samples treated with substances that may or may not have an enzymatic effect on the protein in the gelatin. Substances used are fresh pineapple, canned pineapple, fresh pineapple that has been frozen and microwaved, and meat tenderizer.

Blueprint Photography by the Cyanotype Process

In this Activity, students prepare cyanotype paper and use it to "photograph" different items using sunlight. This Activity demonstrates catalysis of chemical reactions by ultraviolet (UV) light using one of the earliest photographic processes, the cyanotype process. It is useful as an introduction to the damaging effects of UV radiation on living organisms and the role of sunscreens.

Fun with M & M's

This simple, yet interesting experiment that was first described by Elizabeth Sumner Walter in 2001. She merely had students pour water into a dish containing some Gobstoppers candies.