Teaching Chemistry with Household Items
Laboratory instruction and experimentation is a vital component of chemistry education. Such procedures are designed to generate interest in the subject matter and compliment textbook and lecture materials. As opposed to lecture alone, supplementing the course with laboratory experiences aims to increase student retention and comprehension. However, for new laboratory students, quantitative assignments using obscure chemicals can be tedious and imposing which can create a barrier to learning. This manual compiles and expands upon existing qualitative literature demonstrations providing educators with five experiments featuring a household product to introduce a general chemistry concept. The household items highlighted in these experiments are: aluminum foil, milk, vinegar, rubbing alcohol, orange juice, soda-pop, and glow sticks. These ordinary household substances were selected to showcase unfamiliar properties of everyday items. The general chemistry concepts introduced in this manual include recognizing the difference between reactants and catalysts, comparisons of pH and relative acidity, redox reactions, and reaction kinetics. Each experiment contains an introduction, list of materials, an experimental procedure complete with illustrations, and conclusion. This manual is designed to be an easy-to-follow step-by-step guide for educators teaching introductory chemistry classes in order to engage students in a fun and relatable manner.
Dr. Valerie Cubon-Bell