Engage Kids in Chemistry One Experiment at a Time

Unless you’re a chemistry teacher, your children are probably oblivious to the chemical properties at work in day-to-day life. If you are a chemistry teacher, you know that a passion for chemistry can lead to more efficient transportation, improvements in medicine, safer environmental practices, supercomputers and loads more. However, passion must start with an understanding of the basics. Encourage your family to get involved in science appreciation with at-home chemistry experiments to celebrate National Chemistry Week.

Fortunately for the not-so-scientifically inclined, parents can receive help from the world’s largest scientific society to spur interest in chemistry. The American Chemical Society — which is commemorating the 25th anniversary of National Chemistry Week — offers resources teeming with hands-on activities and informative lessons targeting different age groups. Celebrating Chemistry is a newspaper for students in grade school, and back-to-school resources for K-12-aged readers are available at www.acs.org/chemistryambassadors.

Check out an example of the fun experiments you can do with your kids—this one studies nanotechnology, which shows how physical forces like gravity behave differently with tiny objects or particles:

Materials:
•    A canning jar (pint or quart)
•    Ring part of the lid for the jar
•    Styrofoam plate
•    Ruler
•    Sharp pencil
•    Scissors

Procedures:

1. Trace the opening of the jar with your pencil on the Styrofoam plate, and cut it out.

2. Fill your canning jar with water.

3. Place your Styrofoam circle into the ring lid, and screw it onto your jar.

4. Poke a small hole into the center of your Styrofoam circle with your pencil point. Measure and record the diameter of the hole in your data table.

5. Working over a sink or pail, place your finger over the hole, and turn the jar upside down. Ask your adult lab partner for help if you need it. Keep the upside-down jar straight up and down, and hold it steady. Slide your finger off of the hole. Water should not come out of the hole.

6. Turn your jar upright. Make the hole bigger by pushing your pencil a little farther into the hole, and repeat the procedure. Record your observation. Record the diameter of the hole and your observations.

7. Keep increasing the size of the hole with your pencil and repeating the procedure until the water comes spilling out. Record all diameter measurements in your data table.

This experiment can be found in its entirety on page 15 of “Celebrating Chemistry” (http://bit.ly/RfgPAT). Find more experiment ideas at www.acs.org/ncw, including details about National Chemistry Week and its theme, nanotechnology.

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