Department of Chemistry
200 University Ave. W
Canada N2L 3G1
Dear Fellow Educators, I want to start by thanking you for your commitment to opening young minds to the wonders of science. Your mentorship may well be responsible for the big inventions of the next generation. To inspire your students even more, I’d like to help you introduce them to some of the exciting new science currently being constructed at the Chemistry Department, University of Toronto. Author: Cecelia Kutas, University of Toronto (St. George Campus), Toronto, Ontario
The Chemical Institute of Canada (CIC) National Crystal Growing Competition is a fun, hands-on experience as well as an exciting opportunity. Author: Gale Thirwall, Chemical Institute of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario
Lauren Langman, Montour High School, Robinson, Pennsylvania uses plastic eggs and a hot glue gun to create models of sp, sp2, sp3, sp3d, and sp3d2 hybrid orbitals.
John Yohe from Pioneer Career and Technology Center (PCTC) in Shelby, Ohio shared with us on Twitter some fun photos of his student experience with The toothpaste challenge published in the September 2018 issue. Author: Jean Hein, Chem 13 News Editor, University of Waterloo, Ontario
When I first encountered a chemistree as a new teacher, I thought it was brilliant and naively, a new idea. I soon learned that this idea had been around forever — like so many other ideas. Last year Twitter helped me discover more chemistrees through an online competition
Take-home chemistry project: Chocolate Torte lab
Allan Van Brunschot shows off some of his students' creations from his take-home chemistry project, a chocolate torte lab (December 2011/January 2012 issue).
Do you have one or more students who excel in your chemistry class and would enjoy a challenge? Have these students participate in The Canadian Chemistry Contest (CCC). Save Monday, April 15, for the 2019 edition of CCC. Watch for more information in future issues of Chem 13 News. This article provides some contest guidelines and announces the 2018 winners.
Name and then match the statements below with the scientist’s photo
In January 2019 we start to celebrate the International Year of the Periodic Table of Elements. Hopefully those who are designing elements for the Timeline of Elements project have already started!
wanted artwork of Mendeleev
Over the holiday break, make sure to encourage your students to delve into some artwork and design an image of Mendeleev. We are asking you to get your students, as well as any chemistry enthusiasts, to create an image of Mendeleev — dimensions as the hexagon tile.
Each of these terms can be rearranged to create a common name for an actual chemical with the given chemical formula.
United States pennies have been minted in the past few years with the less expensive metal zinc as a center filler and the more expensive copper metal as an overall cover.
Living and thriving cultures innovate, adapt and incorporate from other cultures.
We had over 200 applications for 118 elements for our 2019 International Year of Periodic Table project. There will be representation from 26 countries, 38 US states and all Canadian provinces and territories. There still is a way for all your students to participate in the timeline — Mendeleev Mosaic. See the following pages.
Exciting news! We have expanded the Timeline of Elements project — so there is an opportunity to be a part of this international collaboration to celebrate 2019 International Year of the Periodic Table.
The Chemical Institute of Canada (CIC) National Crystal Growing Competition is a fun, hands-on experience as well as an exciting opportunity. Schools are provided with materials and instructions on how to grow crystals and the objective is to grow the biggest and highest quality single crystal.
The saying, “Once in a Blue Moon” refers to two full moons occurring within the same month, a rarity. This recently occurred this past January 2018. The actual moon appearing blue in color occurs from time to time as well.
Throughout the past few years we have incorporated a variety of kinesthetic activities into our classroom instruction that allows the students to be up and out of their seats to learn and review content as well as create class cohesion.
With this issue of Chem 13 News, we have the first in a series of articles on chemistry in northern Canada, focussing specifically on the Inuit context. The unique Inuit life and culture has developed experimentally over thousands of years in response to the challenges of limited material and food resources. And now life is being impacted by new material additions to daily lives (including pollutants).
Are you stuck for lesson plans for this year’s Mole Day? Not planning that far ahead yet? That’s okay, we have a solution. How about having your chemistry students join the fun with other chemistry students for this year’s Molympics!
The Department of Chemistry at the University of Waterloo proudly announces the launch of our new Open-Science website: open.science.uwaterloo.ca. It provides freely available, interactive online lessons on general topics in high school chemistry curricula.
One can use starch instead of borax to make gak/goo/slime. We published making gak/goo/slime using a saturated borax solution in the October 2016 issue of Chem 13 News.
Halloween is right around the corner, and that means lots of candy, costumes and haunted houses! A good haunted house isn’t complete without… something gooey and slimy!
Every year during basketball season, two institutions, the University of North Carolina (UNC) and Duke University, battle on the court to see which team (and university) can claim the title of being the best. As they are only eight miles apart and have two of the best coaches in all of college basketball, one can only imagine the intensity of the rivalry between the two schools.
The Landolt iodine clock reaction has been, and continues to be one of my favorite demonstrations. I perform this demonstration every semester for the General Chemistry classes at Duke.
The “Chemistry of Color” was the American Chemical Society (ACS)’s theme for the 2015 National Chemistry Week. Presentations were staged across the US. The local section of the ACS joined forces with the Nasher Museum of Art (Duke) to put on a chemistry event for more than 600 attendees.
Concepts: Acids, bases, universal indicator, pH, neutralization.
The Chemical sunset demonstrates the Tyndall effect in a fun and engaging way. We have used this demonstration for both instructional and outreach purposes. Colloidal sulfur is produced by the reaction between sodium thiosulfate and hydrochloric acid.
The determination of the limiting and excess reagents in a chemical reaction tends to be a challenge for many chemistry students. Teachers have used the making of cookies and hamburgers, or combinations of nuts and bolts, among other common items to help students understand these concepts. While students understand that if you have 10 hamburger patties and only 6 pickles one can only make 3 hamburgers, if each requires 2 pickles.
Penney Sconzo presented this nifty demonstration at the ChemEd 2015 Generations Symposium in Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw GA. This is an easy, colorful and safe microscale version of the Ammonia Fountain.
This set of six hands-on activities called Chemistry and Our Health relates the role of chemistry to various aspects of our well-being. Making chemistry concepts relevant to one’s everyday life has been shown to be valuable to student understanding and learning.
Vitamin C, chemically known as L-ascorbic acid, is an important nutrient that provides support to body structures, contributes to wound healing and aids the immune system in preventing infection. In this activity, participants learn how to determine whether vitamin C is present in commercial drinks and, if so, how to measure the relative amount.
In Part 1 — the April issue — we described four of our successful bubble activities. Part 2 will incorporate dry ice into our demonstrations and have reflections on these activities. These demos are very popular with all audiences.
Everyone enjoys playing with soap bubbles. We have turned this enjoyment into a series of activities that not only gives people the opportunity to once again experience this enjoyment but to also learn about soap bubbles. We have taken the Bubble-ology presentation to places like North Carolina’s Museum of Life & Science in Durham and the Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh.
On its own, hydrogen peroxide slowly decomposes into oxygen and water. For this reason, fresh bottles of drugstore hydrogen peroxide, labeled 3%, are actually 6%. This is so the hydrogen peroxide remains above 3% at the expiration date, if stored properly.
Our day begins with this story: Maddy, the Endeavor Charter School second-grade class’s rabbit is missing. The cage was found open. Near the cage was a clear, colorless liquid in a flask. On the floor was a white powder. A torn piece of fabric with dark red stains hung on the cage door...
I submitted a manuscript about the “Exploding Gummy Bear” that was published in the February 2014 issue of Chem 13 News. The editor, Jean Hein, her staff and I wrestled with the safety issues and the underlying chemistry associated with this demonstration. It was even suggested not to publish the article because of these concerns.
One of the many advantages of having students peruse sources of chemical demonstrations rather than my telling them which ones they should perform is that they occasionally come across demonstrations that I have not seen before. One example of this is when Stacey Wolfson found “How to Blow Out a Light Bulb” in A Demo A Day, Volume 2, B. Bilash II, G. Gross, & J. Koob, (1998), pages 208-209, Flinn Scientific, Inc. This demonstration was new to me.
Want to do something inspiring for National Chemistry Week (NCW) in October? How about building a periodic table made of LEGO? This was the unique challenge undertaken by Thomas Kuntzleman and his colleagues at Spring Arbor University, Spring Arbor, Michigan.
I realized after I had left the ChemEd 2013 Conference last year that my school, Jacob Hespeler Secondary School in Cambridge, was missing out by not having a Science Club. So this past school year I started one. The first thing I needed was a name — and the name ultimately chosen was inspired by a former student who loved chemistry so much that she got a tattoo (not recommended until after you have passed first year "killer" chem).
When thermoplastic polymer became available a couple of years ago, we purchased a bottle to see if it would be a viable addition to our chemistry outreach program. Since then, literally hundreds of people, young and old, have experienced molding the thermoplastic, taking their creations home in Zip-loc® bags.
Elaine “Lainey” Williams learned the procedure for the thermoplastic shaping activity, tried out various combinations of the dyes, instructed her classmates and shared this activity with 4th to 6th grade girls who recently participated in the FEMMES (Females Engaged in More Math, Engineering, and Science) Capstone event. The following are Lainey’s thoughts about learning the procedure, the underlying chemical concepts and sharing the thermoplastic activity with others.
The catalytic oxidation of tartrate ions by hydrogen peroxide has been a staple of the Duke chemistry instructional program for many years. The demonstration clearly and colorfully brings to life the textbook description of what a catalyst is and how it enables a reaction to proceed at a faster rate by becoming involved in the reaction, yet in the end returns to its original state.
Most everyone, young and old, enjoys consuming gummy bears. They are chewy, juicy and sugary sweet! And speaking of sugar, each and every gummy bear is packed full of energy. Just how much can be qualitatively demonstrated by “The Exploding Gummy Bear” as titled by Sonia, or more accurately by “The Rapid Oxidation of Sugar.”
Aluminum cans are used for juices, soda and beer. The cans receive, on the inside, a plastic film that prevents the contact of the liquid with the metal. On the outside, the cans are painted with the brand's logo and other information. This external paint protects the aluminum surface from corrosion.
Polyurethane foam smoothies continue to be one our most popular hands-on, make-and-take activities. They are easy to do, safe to perform (with supervision), inexpensive, and useful for illustrating several chemical concepts for a wide range of audiences. Another plus, each participant can take his or her smoothie home and talk about the process of making it and the underlying chemistry with family and friends.
Demonstrating the magnetic ink used in printing US currency has proven to engage audiences of all ages because of its relevance to everyday life. Nearly everyone has used machines that distribute and/or accept currency but few understand how the machines distinguish between the various denominations. The key is in the face of each denomination.
Oobleck, a mixture of cornstarch and water, derives its name from the story “Bartholomew and the Oobleck” by Dr. Seuss (Random House), in which the king, tired of the rain, snow, and sleet falling from the sky, wishes for something different. Soon his wish is granted; green, sticky, gooey oobleck falls making a mess of his kingdom, leading the king to regret his wish. Bartholomew saves the day by getting the king to say the magic words, “I’m sorry.”
Propane Bubbles continues to be one of our most popular demonstrations among audiences and presenters alike. Propane-filled soap bubbles are generated, released into the air, and then ignited.
The “Burning Steel Wool” demonstration is an engaging means to illustrate that increasing the amount of available oxygen increases the rate of combustion. A 9-volt battery is used to ignite a small piece of steel wool, first in air, and then in an oxygen-enriched environment.