Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

Monthly Update sign up
Mailing List signup
Reactions in Chemistry
HomeSupport MaterialsActivities
Sub Image2:Macro to Micro Structures
1) Atoms and Molecules2) Macro to Micro Structures 3) Energetics and Dynamics 4) Theory and Practice in Chemical Systems
5) Chemical Design6) The Chemistry of Life7) Chemistry and the Environment8) Chemistry at the Interface

Unit 4.7 Using Concrete Examples
Several demonstrations of basic chemical concepts are presented, from computer animations to nuts-and-bolts type presentations. Both help students visualize new concepts.
Video program cues: 41:25 — 57:26

Water dissociation

"Let me show you an example of an acid-base reaction, which occurs just in liquid water…we start off with two water molecules which just hit one another. They aren't bonded together but they have a fight, and a hydrogen atom is involved in a tug of war between the two oxygens. What is actually moved from one molecule to the other is the hydrogen atom, not the electrons. It's like a flea jumping from one dog to the other. You don't see the flea, but you can see the itching...."

Dr. Roy Tasker
Associate Professor, Univ. of Western Sydney

Electrolytes in solution demonstrations

Irene Walsh teaches about conductivity of strong and weak. Electrolytes in solution, as well as about the dissociation of water.


Morikawa, T.; Williamson, B. E. (2001)' Model for Teaching about Electrical Neutrality in Electrolyte Solutions, 'Journal of Chemical Education, Vol. 78, No. 7, pp: 934-936.

What are real chemicals?

Teachers’ forum

"We have to break this notion that you are not really doing chemistry unless you are using 'real' chemicals. I mean, what is a real chemical and what is not?"

Caryn Galatis
Thomas A. Edison High School, Virginia

"We have to start letting everybody know that everything is a real chemical. Vinegar is a real chemical, lime juice is a real chemical."

Dr. Michael Clarke
Duke Ellington School for the Arts, Washington, D.C.

"And that anything can be dangerous if it is used in an incorrect way."

Sharon Walton
Watkins Mill High School, Maryland

"The kids have this misconception, too. If it is around the house then it is not chemicals."

Caryn Galatis
Thomas A. Edison High School, Virginia

"That’s one that I love to address by giving them pH strips to take home. Let them find out that the chemicals that they have at home have a higher concentration than anything that we are allowed to give them in the lab by the safety rules. I think that the idea that everything else is not chemicals, causes them to have this divorced world of chemical systems, which is not part of real everyday life."

Tom Pratuch
Annandale High School, Virginia

"Here is a challenge that we have, though: If we are going to talk about household chemicals as a basis for their understanding of chemistry, we should also have to teach students how to apply some of the techniques and tools that chemists use in the lab to working with these materials. What we are trying to do is to use these everyday substances, and give the kids the opportunity to use the tools that traditionally chemists use."

Dr. Leslie Pierce
Thomas A. Edison High School, Virginia

"It can be a simple lab as the one that we do in the observation on pH, once we learn what acids and bases can do. They can try out a lot of acid-base indicators; they can then extend it to thin layer chromatography, which is a very common technique, and spectroscopy. Vegetables and fruits and their colorful components can be used for a lot of different things."

Caryn Galatis
Thomas A. Edison High School, Virginia

"To get them to accept whatever your data is, and the conclusion that you then reach, based on the analysis of whatever you actually measured, and then explain the discrepancy if in fact it is obviously discrepant from what it should be. Focusing on such thought skills and affecting their way of thinking is more than just chemistry."

Tom Pratuch
Annandale High School, Virginia


  • From the EPA, a tour of chemicals in and around the home. Also, click on the items on the left side of page for more information.
  • An extensive list of cited references for teaching to student misconceptions in science.

Sanger, M. J.; Greenbowe, T. J. (1997)' Students' Misconceptions in Electrochemistry Regarding Current Flow in Electrolyte Solutions and the Salt Bridge, 'Journal of Chemical Education, Vol. 74, No. 7, pp: 819-823.

Proceed to Workshop 5 arrow

© Annenberg Foundation 2014. All rights reserved. Legal Policy