Chemistry for non-specialists

Teach with flair and enthusiasm with the help of this collection of experiments and demonstrations specially designed for non-specialists.

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  • Fume cupboard image

    Reacting elements with oxygen

    By Mike Thompson

    Different members of the periodic table will exhibit different reactions when exposed to oxygen, often through heating. This practical supports students to understand the diversity of chemicals and their principles.

  • Universal indicator image

    Creating an effervescent universal indicator ‘rainbow’

    By Grant Birchby, Alan Matear

    This quick practical uses existing chemicals in your learning space, for students to observe the effervescent reaction that causes universal indicator to create a ‘rainbow’ of colour. Kit list and safety instructions included.

  • Magnesium strip image

    The reaction of magnesium with steam

    Plunge a burning magnesium ribbon into the steam above boiling water and allow the hydrogen that is formed to burn – or collect it over water and test it with a lighted spill.

  • Image

    The reaction between zinc powder and sulfur

    A spectacular practical demonstration to show the differences between elements, mixtures and compounds

  • Test tube on flame

    Making a reaction tube

    Guide students through this practical to create a reaction tube. Includes kit list and safety instructions.

  • Molten metal in crucible image

    Competition for oxygen

    Explore the reactions of metals when exposed to the oxide of another metal. When reactions like these occur, the two metals compete for the oxygen. Includes kit list and safety instructions.

  • Potassium iodide pills image

    Electrolysis of potassium iodide solution

    Find out how the electrolysis of a potassium iodide solution works with this practical. Includes kit list, and safety instructions. 

  • Balloons of many different colours and sizes filling a room

    An alternative to using compressed gas cylinders

    By Mike Thompson

    Getting gas under pressure allows exciting demonstrations such as igniting balloons filled with hydrogen gas. Includes kit list and safety instructions.

  • Nylon thread

    Making nylon: the ‘nylon rope trick’

    The ‘nylon rope trick’ is a classic of chemistry classrooms, by mixing decanedioyl dichloride and in cyclohexane you can create a solution that will form nylon strings when floated on an aqueous solution of 1,6-diaminohexane. Kit list and safety instructions included.

  • Splint on fire image

    Flame tests (the wooden splint method)

    Find a new method to perform flame tests using wooden splints soaked in chlorides. Includes kit list and safety instructions.

  • Chromatography spread image

    Neutralisation circles

    By Ted Lister

    Support students to explore neutralisation circles in this experiment that can be performed with common chemistry classroom equipment. Kit list and safety instructions included. 

  • Methane bottle image

    The methane rocket

    Ignite methane with oxygen in a bottle, and amaze students with this methane rocket. Contains kit list and safety instructions.

  • Limonene image

    Extracting limonene from oranges

    By Andrew Thompson

    Limonene is found in oranges, and now your classroom. Create a distillation apparatus and support students to make their own plant oils. Includes kit list and safety instructions.

  • Conical flask image

    The effect of concentration on reaction rate

    Students react sodium thiosulfate solution is reacted with acid – a sulfur precipitate forms. The time taken for a certain amount of sulfur to form can be used to indicate the rate of the reaction. Contains kit list and safety instructions.

  • Bromine hazard image

    Diffusion of gases – a safer alternative to bromine

    Diffusing gases can be a tricky thing to do, but by creating an alternative to bromine, you can make a safer classroom alternative for this process. Kit list and safety instructions included. 

  • Sand explosion

    Making silicon and silanes from sand

    Create silicon in your classroom using just sand and magnesium. This exothermic practical will show learners the nuances of heat based reactions and how to perform them safely. Kit list and safety instructions included. 

  • Weighing a powder on a balance

    Reduction of copper(II) oxide by hydrogen

    Determine the formula of copper(II) oxide by reducing it using hydrogen or methane, in one of three methods available to you in this practical. Includes kit list and safety instructions. 

  • Test tube image

    Testing for negative ions

    Guide students into testing for negative ions with this practical. Students note their own observations and use their knowledge to discover more. Includes kit list and safety instructions. 

  • Brown kelp image

    Cross-linking polymers – alginate worms

    With a collection of equipment easy to find in your classroom, students can form alginate polymer “worms”. This practical is a great way to explore cross-linking polymers with students.