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Chemistry in Elementary classes

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Camryn Booth Camryn Booth 190 Points

Hi all!

I was wondering if anyone had any fresh ideas on how to incorporate chemistry into my first grade class. Please send any lesson plans or experiment ideas my way!


Emily Faulconer Emily Faulconer 5755 Points

Camryn - In searching the NSTA Learning Center using the term 'chemistry' and limiting results to 'elementary' grade level and 'lessons and activities', I found the following: 

Tareen Chowdhury Tareen Chowdhury 875 Points

Hi! I have recently taken a trip to the Maryland Science Center where students were able to do mixtures with basic kitchen items. We did this experiment in the Kids Room, which is geared towards kids in early elementary school or early childhood. We used items such as vinegar, baking soda, yeast, and sugar. Although the students may not grasp the chemistry behind the experiments, they will at least be able to see that there is a reaction in mixing two or more of these ingredients. They will also see that mixing other ingredients do not make a reaction and can help them ponder on why certain mixtures create a reaction whereas others dont. This experiment can get a bit messy, so I think it is important to have ground rules or maybe specific measurements. I hope this helps!

Kathryn Hedges Kathryn Hedges 650 Points

If you use salt crystals the children can identify it as cubes using a microscope or magnifying glass and will dissolve in water, starch (flour or corn starch) is amorphous (not crystaline) and will produce a blue black color when iodine is added and does not dissolve in water, baking soda will bubble with addition of vinegar and it will dissolve in water .  If you give the students a chart to complete for testing the solids with water, vinegar, iodine, and visual description then give them one of the solids as an unknown they can use deduction to determine the identity of the solids.  They can also identify a mixture of two of these solids.  I have done this with 1st through 6th grade students.

Kathryn Hedges Kathryn Hedges 650 Points

Young students love testing acids and bases using purple cabage extract. (make the extract by boiling purple cabbage in water, filter out the cabbage and use the cooled water.  The juice will turn blue with base (baking soda, cleaning solutions with amonia) and pink with acids (lemon juice, pickle juice, vinegar)

Some people even use the cabage juice extracted with alcohol to soak coffee filters that when dried work as litmus paper. Be careful with extracting with alcohol not to use an open flame.

Kathryn Hedges Kathryn Hedges 650 Points

Make a saturated solution of epson salts ( use hot water and keep adding epsons salts until no more will dissolve).  Make shapes out of heavy weight filter paper or use charcoal brickettes as a base for the salts to crystalize on.  Stand the paper shape or brickette in a shallow dish. Pour the saturated epson salt solution into the bottom of the dish.  Add a few drops of food coloring in different locations. DO NOT STIR.  Allow the dishes to sit some where undisturbed and watch crystals form a garden of crystals.

Kathryn Hedges Kathryn Hedges 650 Points

Chromatography is another thing that younger children like to do.  Make a mixture of blue and yellow or red and blue or red and yellow food coloring.  Put a small drop into the center of a coffee filter then lay the the filter onto the top of a glass.  Use a dropper to drop water onto the center of the filter paper and watch the colors separate.  Small molecules will move faster than large ones. 

You can dry the filter papers and then wrap a pipe cleaner around the center to make a butter fly that can be hung in the class room.

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