Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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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 Design 6) The Chemistry of Life
7) Chemistry and the Environment8) Chemistry at the Interface

Unit 6.7 Chemical Processes in Biology
Biological systems contain sophisticated molecular structures, which are involved in millions of reactions. Enzymes regulate the chemical processes in organisms.
Video program cues: 44:10-57:15

Chemicals in medicine

"The students ought to understand that if they cut themselves, and put [<3%] hydrogen peroxide on their hands, they are going to see bubbles. If they leave it there for too long, it is going to start hurting, and eventually, if they rinse it off, they will see white stuff. The bubbles are oxygen coming from the hydrogen peroxide. This occurs because metal ions in the body fluid, mainly iron, catalytically decompose the hydrogen peroxide in a process that is called Fenton chemistry. It produces the hydroxyl radical, which is a vicious reagent. It will attack virtually all organic compounds and cause them to decompose. If you cut yourself, it’s a very good reagent because it sterilizes the place due to its very reactive nature."

Dr. Terry Collins
Professor of Chemistry, Carnegie Mellon University


  • From HowStuffWorks, an explanation of why peroxide bubbles on a cut.

Stinson, S., (2001)' Iron-Catalyzed Olefin Oxidation, 'Chemical & Engineering New, Vol. 79, No. 30, pp. 9.

Hydrogen peroxide decomposition laboratory

Leslie Pierce teaches about the rate of decomposition of Hydrogen Peroxide by the catalase enzyme.



Ragsdale, R.O.; Vanderhooft , J. C.; Zipp, A. P. (1998)' Small-Scale Kinetic Study of the Catalyzed Decomposition of Hydrogen Peroxide, 'Journal of Chemical Education, Vol. 75, No. 2, pp: 215-216.

Marzzacco, C. J. (1999)' The Enthalpy of Decomposition of Hydrogen Peroxide: A General Chemistry Calorimetry Experiment, 'Journal of Chemical Education, Vol. 76, No. 11, pp: 1517-1518.

How are we affected by chemistry?

Students’ ideas

"We are affected by chemistry because basically we are made up of chemicals."

"If I know what the chemical make-up is, I know what will happen in chemistry. "

"The brain is a big chemical reaction"

The chemistry of the human body

"Our own bodies are extraordinary biological chemical manufacturing systems, where we use our genes to make highly complex molecules. Bioscience has made tremendous advances in the last 10 years, and so in the future you will see a lot of the chemistry facilitated by bioprocesses. We have fermentation processes, genetic engineering of growing things in a field, a combination of the two, combinations of traditional chemistry, boiling things and adding, introducing things into plants and microbes in bacteria. We are headed towards the ability to design highly complex molecules such as we are. We are a mass of highly sophisticated molecular structures, billions of years old. And we are trying to understand ourselves for the first time. And it didn’t take an extraordinary amount of energy to create these molecules; we are all very low-energy synthesized beings."

Dr. Richard Wool
Professor of Chemical Engineerings, University of Delaware


Thayer, A.M. (2001) Biocatalysis, 'Chemical & Engineering News, Vol. 79, No. 21, pp. 27-34.

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