Environmental Chemistry

Online Activity: Chemical Kinetics and the “Radium Girls”

The classic classroom or lab activity using coin flips to illustrate the first order kinetics of radioactive decay is connected to the tragedy of radiation exposure of workers at facilities using radium-containing luminescent paint. Some of the chemistry related to the contamination of these “radium girls” is explored, with connections being made to the Principles of Green Chemistry and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Free Climate Science Workbook for Teachers

The Wisconsin initiative for Science Literacy has published Science Climate Concepts Fit Your Classroom - A Workbook for Teachers. This is a free online Workbook, readily available for secondary teachers and college faculty. This workbook includes many hands on activities that incorporate traditional science classroom concepts within the context of climate science.

Microplastics, Liquid Nitrogen, and Iodine: Polystyrene vs. Starch Foam Packing Peanuts

The differing electrostatic and solubility properties of starch and polystyrene foam packing peanuts are used in various demonstrations to describe aspects of microplastics and their interactions with the environment. Their differing responses to exposure to liquid nitrogen and iodine solutions are also described.

Surveying Litter as a Citizen Science Chemistry Activity

During the last few semesters, a small survey has been deployed at Bradley University where students were to describe and classify items of litter that they found. The purposes of the surveys were to get students thinking about some of the chemical implications of solid waste and give the students some experience with a citizen science project. The most recent iteration of the survey, and some of its results, are described.

Organic Chemistry and Tree Fruit: The Control of Ethylene-Induced Ripening of Fruit in Cold Storage Warehouses

Ethylene, C2H4, a volatile plant hormone stimulates fruit ripening and is also released during ripening. This post explains the role of ethylene in ripening and presents how the chemical identity of the ethylene scavenger used to suppress premature ripening during storage was determined.