A Series of Early Chemistry Experiments and Demonstrations for New Science Teachers

The International Year of Chemistry 2011 (IYC 2011) is a worldwide celebration of the achievements of chemistry and its contributions to the well-being of humankind.

IYC2011 presents a good occasion for new teachers of young science students to offer hands-on science experiments and chemical demonstrations. Offered here are a series of short video segments illustrating how to safely and inexpensively conduct elementary and middle level chemistry lessons using common materials.

Our interest in producing these segments is to encourage teachers to develop hands on chemistry lessons for younger science students, and to help them do it safely and with a clear understanding of the chemistry involved. Thanks for your participation!



Recycled Paper


This is a classic and simple lesson illustrating in a hands-on and clear way one mechanism for the recycling of paper products.


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Recycled Paper – Part 2


A continuation of our recycled paper demonstration.


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Copper Ions in Solution



Items you’ll need:

  • Box of nails
  • Acetic acid (vinegar)
  • Pennies (older than 1981)
  • Superfine steel wool
  • Beaker
  • Glass stirring rod

copyright © Science House 2011


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Dissolving Plastic


copyright © Science House 2010


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Chromatography with Leaves


In this segment we take the chemicals out of a leaf that help the plant carry out photosynthesis. This experiment is a good one because it shows kids that there is more than one type of chlorophyll in most species, and that we can separate them.


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Inert Atmospheres: Chromatography part 2


Here we stabilize the biological pigments from reacting further by creating an inert atmosphere. We replace the oxygen-containing air with a nitrogen atmosphere.


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Cross Linked Slime


Adding sodium tetraborate solution to your dissolved polyvinyl alcohol bags (like we made in our segment titled “Slime”) will cross link the polymers, producing an amorphous final product that can be trained to climb down a windowpane through the effects of gravity and surface tension.


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Cross Linked Polymers!


In this segment we finish preparing our “Silly Putty” from Glue and Borax.


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Mix It Up! Cross Linking Polymers


Of all the iterations we see of science lessons preparing “Silly Putty” from borax and glue, we’d like to see students looking carefully at each aspect of this classic chemical reaction, including the solution chemistry and the simple math involved preparing each reactant.


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Alien Egg – part 1


This is the first of our experiments called “The Alien Egg”. In these experiments we dissolve the shell of an egg and then submerge the egg in solutions of different solutes, with different concentrations. The membrane of the egg remains intact, resulting in the egg expanding or contracting as water enters or escapes. While not really an “alien egg”, it looks like one and kids enjoy this experiment a lot.


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Alien Egg – part 2


Part 2 of the Alien Egg experiment.


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Alien Egg – part 3


Part 3 of the Alien Egg experiment.


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Alien Egg – part 4


Part 4 of the Alien Egg experiment.


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Carbon Dioxide Source


A water seltzer or bicycle pump with a carbon dioxide cylinder inside is a great source of pressurized carbon dioxide that can be used to demonstrate countless different ideas.


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Pyrolysis: Sugar on Fire!


Heating our sugar cubes to 186 degrees Celsius with our butane torch leads to a chemical reaction called pyrolysis and the formation of caramel, carbon dioxide and water, which we see as a pale brown steaming syrup with a familiar, pleasant nutty odor.


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Copper Zinc Reaction – part 1


This experiment involving copper sulfate and mossy zinc is a very visual demonstration of a chemical reaction. It can be used to teach about redox chemistry in a qualitative or quantitative way. If you monitor the reaction over a period of about 24 hours, you will also see a dramatic color change and change in temperature
Items you’ll need:

  • Bubble tubes (Click to buy)
  • Stopwatch
  • Unknown liquid of your choice

copyright © Science House 2011


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Copper Zinc Reaction – part 2


We return to our chemical reaction one day later.
Items you’ll need:

  • Copper Sulfate
  • Mossy Zinc
  • Granulated Zinc

copyright © Science House 2011


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Budget Bunsen Burner


If you are designing a school science lab, you may elect to work with a class set of mounted butane torches or some commercial butane burner and eliminate the expense installing, maintaining and securing gas lines. These options offer a safe, much less expensive source of concentrated heat.


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Bending Glass


Using the butane torch we recommended earlier, you can make your own custom-made glassware for experiments like fractional distillation.


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Hydrogen Flame Test


This is a classic kitchen chemistry experiment involving the liberation of hydrogen gas.


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Layers of Gases


You can teach your students about the density of different gases – carbon dioxide and air – by showing them how bubbles levitate on top of a layer of carbon dioxide. This is a gorgeous experiment and the materials are simple and cheap.


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Carbon Dioxide Race


If your students are studying the chemical properties of gases as part of a greater study of matter, elements, compounds and their chemical properties, you can easily show the ability of carbon dioxide to extinguish a flame.


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What's So Green About…?


If you’re running an environmental science club or activity or if you have a green initiative in your school, you can ask your kids to look at principles of green engineering and do some experiments involving environmental science

copyright © Science House 2011


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