October 2016 ChemEd X Newsletter

Dear Readers,

The theme for National Chemistry Week (NCW) 2016 is “Solving Mysteries through Chemistry: Exploring the Chemistry of Fibers and Forensics”. In honor of the celebration, we are sharing ideas related to the NCW theme. Nationally, this year's celebration is planned for October 16-22. (NCW is typically celebrated the last week of October.) We hope you will find the resources useful as you celebrate with your students and promote understanding around your community. You can find even more resources and information at the




While considering ideas for National Chemistry Week, Tom Kuntzleman was intrigued with something he read claiming that cocaine (C17H21NO4) adheres to and can be detected on paper currency. So, he is working on a lab using chemicals and materials found in a general chemistry lab that he can use with his students to do just that.


Check out a video explaining the exploration of dyeing different types of fabric. This idea can be used in many ways. You might include it simply as a class activity to discuss intermolecular forces. The activity could also lead to a more extensive open inquiry lab allowing students to develop their own questions to explore. Dyeing fabric can also be a fun activity for ACS ChemClub or other groups too.


This demo can be used for NCW and/or for a Halloween treat! The demonstration is an old one, but with a new twist using household materials.


This post was written for last year's NCW theme, "Chemistry Colors Our World". How many of your students or their families will know why and how the colors change when using common household cleaners?


Hal Harris previously wrote a thoughtful in 2010. This past June, Doug Ragan offered his take and gave us other links providing a video that he uses in his classes as well as a transcript of the movie, questions for students to answer after watching the video and even experiements that can be done that are related to the video. Use of the book and/or the video will help to enlighten and excite students about forensics and chemistry.


Inspired by the Chemical Mystery series here at ChemEd X that Tom Kuntzleman has offered our readers, Lowell Thomson has begun using mysteries in his classroom to encourage student questions and hypotheses. Lowell provides a list of all of the Chemical Mysteries submitted by Tom and also offers some of his own. These can be used as stand alone activities for celebrating NCW or you can use them in a series all year long.


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