Chemical change is a difficult concept to teach middle school students because of the level of abstraction required. Physical Science Content Standard B of the National Science Education Standards states students in grades 5-8 should investigate materials’ differences with respect to properties such as boiling and melting points and solubility.
Acids and Bases: Kitchen Chemistry
Acids and bases react with other chemicals in predictable ways. This interactive activity allows you to conduct virtual experiments on various solutions to determine if they’re acidic or basic. In one experiment, you can test the acidity of different household substances by trying to launch a virtual cork rocket.
Science of Bread: Bread Science 101
This site describes the chemical reactions and changes that occur during the bread making process. Goodness Gracious: Great Balls of Gluten allows students to learn about the properties of gluten and to test different types of flour for their gluten content. In Yeast Air Balloons, students blow up balloons using various combinations of yeast, sugar, and water. Students can reflect on the chemical and physical changes that are occuring as they do these activities.
This activity is labor intensive and requires preparation, but the experience and products are sure to provide a lasting impression on students. At each step of the process students can say whether that step represents a chemical change and they can state their evidence to support their claim. A side benefit of this activity is its connection to sustainability.
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