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Intro to Chemistry

Here are some basic introductory activities for chemistry. Some of them are more challenging than others, but these activities should work for multiple age and grade levels.

1. Define chemistry and tell what chemicals are.

2. Make a list of 10 chemicals found in your home and their use.

3. Tell how chemicals in your home are safely stored and how to dispose of them safely.

4. Tell the difference between a chemical reaction and a physical change.

5. Tell what analytic chemists do.

6. Prepare an indicator from a plant leaf or bloom. Show that it works when vinegar neutralizes a baking soda solution.

7. Compare the strengths of 5 percent solutions of baking soda and borax by titrating each with vinegar.

8. Test two different bits of food for starch and protein.

9. Compare the amounts of vitamin C in two kinds of fruit juice.

10. Show that an ink or food color has two or more colors by using paper chromatography.

11. Define biochemistry.

12. Write the simple equation for photosynthesis. Explain what parts sunlight and chlorophyll play in it. Give the names and symbols of the three main parts of a 10-6-4 fertilizer. Explain what each one does for plants. Draw from memory a sketch of the carbon dioxide-oxygen cycle.

13. Explain what oxygen does in the body of an animal. Describe how oxygen, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide are carried in the body. Describe the chemical changes taking place when:

Vegetables cook
Meat cooks
Bread dough rises
Bread bakes
Bread is chewed

14. Define inorganic chemistry. Carry out an experiment to show three different ways of protecting iron or steel from rusting. Tell why aluminum doesn't rust the way iron does. Do an experiment in which one metal makes another metal deposit from solution. Explain what takes place in terms of the activity series of metals.

15. Define organic chemistry.

a. What are organic chemicals?
b. Name three organic chemicals.
c. Tell the difference between polar and nonpolar.
d. Show how polar and nonpolar substances do not mix.

16. Define physical chemistry.

17. Construct a Cartesian diver.

18. Explain why the medicine dropper sinks to the bottom when the sides are squeezed.

19. Define pollution.

20. Name two chemicals that cause air, water, or solid waste pollution near your home. Tell where these pollutants might have come from. Find one way to control one of these. Do one test to show that air or water is polluted.

21. Write the formula for ozone. Tell where it is found. Tell how it is both a pollutant and also necessary for a healthy environment.

22. Write the formula for carbon dioxide. How can it cause the greenhouse effect?

23. Write the formula for sulfur dioxide. Explain what acid rain is. What does pH measure? Measure the pH of rain or a body of water near your home. Tell how acid rain can be prevented.

24. Visit an industrial plant that makes chemical products or uses chemical processes, and describe the processes used. What, if any, pollutants are produced and how are they handled?

25. Visit a laboratory or business that uses chemicals and find out how and why chemicals are used.

26. Visit a county agent to learn how chemistry is meeting farm problems of soil fertility and crop pests.

27. Describe two different kinds of work done by chemists, chemical engineers, and chemical technicians. Explain the differences in college courses for training each of these three kinds of people.


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