Thursday, September 17, 2015

Fun with Chemistry

This year, we are using The Spectrum Chemistry from http://beginningspublishing.com/ and are loving it. This lab-heavy course includes two lessons in the text each week and one lab. We have a lab group of three students who meet on Friday afternoons for their weekly lab. I’m the type who usually gathers together lab equipment rather than buying a prepared kit in order to save money, but this time, we have the purchased kit (which is really necessary for this course—it includes a huge amount of chemicals and equipment). It’s been such a time saver for me!

The first week, the students learned about lab safety procedures. Although the chemicals included in this set aren’t particularly dangerous in small quantities, the students are learning to handle them safely. Their experiment involved testing the effects of four different chemicals on aluminum foil, polystyrene (packing peanuts) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and discussing the need for using protective materials that will not react with chemicals (such as PVC gloves in some cases).

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The second week, they learned to do serial dilution to the point of extinction with a dyed chemical and calculated the concentration, mass, and ratio to water of each dilution.

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On week three, they compared the densities of two chemicals by layering them in a vial. Then they calculated the actual density of the potassium carbonate crystal that they had dissolved in water.

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The labs each week reinforce the bookwork and involve a lot of precise measuring and calculating—both fun and challenging!  I’ll share more later as our year progresses!

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