Chemistry in health

From the development of novel medicines to how energy drinks work, we have activities and resources for all ages that explore the topic of health.

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    Asparagus pee

    A video explaining that asparagus should be cooked in butter rather than water because the molecules responsible for its flavour are water-soluble, and a worksheet about the molecules responsible for ‘asparagus pee’.

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    The microscale synthesis of aspirin

    Carry out a microscale esterification reaction between 2-hydroxybenzoic acid (salicylic acid) and ethanoic anhydride using phosphoric acid as a catalyst to produce aspirin on a microscale

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    Measuring the amount of vitamin C in fruit drinks

    Use titration to determine how much vitamin C is in a fruit drink

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    Making Medicines

    In association with

    An introduction to nitric acid production.

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    The chemistry of flavour

    Worksheets and videos on the molecules responsible for flavour, and how cooking affects cell walls.

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    Low sodium salt substitutes

    This resource uses a titration method to analyse the chemical composition of Lo-Salt, a reduced sodium salt alternative.

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    What affects the colour and texture of cooked vegetables?

    Practical work and questions about the effect of salt, sodium bicarbonate and calcium ions on the colour and texture of cooked vegetables.

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    Use of salt in cooking, part 2

    This resource explores why salt is always added to the water when cooking green vegetables.

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    Use of salt in cooking, part 1

    In this activity students devise and carry out experiments to test possible reasons for adding salt when cooking vegetables.

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    Anecdotes: Mercury

    Mercury poisoning and the origins of the phrase ‘mad as a hatter’.

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    Anecdotes: Measuring Lead Levels in Hair

    Measuring lead levels in hair using atomic absorption spectrometry.

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    Anecdotes: Sweet Sensations

    The accidental discovery of three artificial sweeteners.

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    The chemistry of sports drinks

    Learn about the chemistry and science behind sports drinks and the effects on the body. Find out how chemists have contributed to the improvement of athletic performance through discussion and worksheet exercises.

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    The chemistry of sports and energy drinks

    Many people think that energy drinks and sports drinks are the same thing but in fact they work in very different ways. This resource looks at how caffeine affects the body and chemistry behind respiration.

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    Extracting iron from breakfast cereal

    In association with

    Separate food grade metallic iron from fortified breakfast cereals by using powerful Neodymium magnets.

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    Energy values of food

    In association with

    In this experiment various foods are tested to find how much energy they contain.

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    Water sports and solutions

    Life is in aqueous solution - and so is much of sport. Find out why the properties of water are vital to the sports men and women who compete in, on, and around water.

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    Faces of Chemistry – Biosensors

    Find out how scientists at the material science laboratory, QMUL, develop biosensors to enhance sport performance.

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    Chemistry and Sport - Athletics: 400m

    Discover the chemistry behind one of the toughest athletic events - the 400m race.

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    The hunt for vitamin C; the effect of cooking processes on the vitamin C content of cabbage

    An experiment to determine how the vitamin C content of cabbage varies with the method of cooking.

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    AfL: What fruit contains the most vitamin C?

    Assessment for Learning is an effective way of actively involving students in their learning. This is a series of plans based around chemistry topics.

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    Oranges and lemons

    In Search of Solutions: Investigate the acid content of oranges and lemons. Linking to topics on acids/alkalis, indicators and neutralisation.

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    Organic chemists: Fighting blindness

    The RSC Organic Division Council have developed scientific case-studies to highlight the importance of organic synthesis in every aspect of life.

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    Detecting starch in food on a microscale

    In association with

    In this experiment you will be testing various foods to see whether they contain starch.

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    Paracetamol book

    This book consists of seven freestanding activities that can be used singly or as a coherent package in a wide range of teaching and learning situations in both academic and vocational courses.

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    Outreach: bath bombs

    Aim: to demonstrate a chemical reaction that produces a gas when reactants are in the correct state.

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    New drugs for old: pharmaceuticals

    This is a problem-based case study looks at the isolation, identification and synthesis of a pharmaceutical drug. Students are involved in screening natural herbal remedies for their active ingredients.

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    Using indigestion tablets to neutralise an acid

    In association with

    Indigestion is caused by excess acid in the stomach. Indigestion tablets neutralise some of this acid. This experiment shows how you can measure the amount of hydrochloric acid neutralised by one tablet. This is one measure of the effectiveness of the tablet.

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    Outreach: Make a molecule

    To help children learn more about the types of molecules found in fruits and sweets, as well as how molecules are formed.

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    Outreach: speedy star jumps

    An activity that allows the collection of data to test whether sports drinks make a difference to performance during short, high intensity exercise.

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    Making Medicines

    An interactive resource from ABPI covering the process of making of medicines from research and development to to manufacture. 

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    On This Day - Mar 19 : Walter Haworth was born

    Besides determining the structures of many sugars, his most famous work was discovering the structure of Vitamin C and creating its first artificial synthesis – work which earned him the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1937.

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    Aspirin

    Students undertake the synthesis and analysis of aspirin.

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    You are what you ate

    In association with

    This C/PBL resource looks at the metabolic causes and incidence of obesity in the cultural and social environment within which students, tutors, and institutions operate. Students are presented with a problem, the growing incidence of obesity, in a real life context in which the core subject, metabolic chemistry, plays a ...

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    AfL: Do vitamin pills really work?

    Assessment for Learning is an effective way of actively involving students in their learning.  Each session plan comes with suggestions about how to organise activities and worksheets that may be used with students.

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    Organic chemists: Contributing to food production

    This scientific case-study highlights the importance of organic synthesis in more efficient food production.

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    Outreach: bendy bones

    Come and see what makes bones so strong!

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    Chemistry's interfaces: nutrition

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    This C/PBL resource is an introduction to some of the most important aspects of chemical biology. Its introduces students to a number of important chemical structures which play major biological roles within human metabolism.

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    Advanced Medicinal Chemistry

    This course material gives real-life examples of drug discovery and information on the drug discovery process through an industrial context, produced by Dr Ray Leslie of NTU and AstraZeneca.

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    Outreach: sunscreen and UV light

    A fun demo to teach about UV light and the action/importance of sunscreen.

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    Measuring vitamin C in food

    Get your students to test their fruit and vegetables for vitamin C using simple kitchen equipment and household items

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    AfL: What is a 'healthy' fat?

    Assessment for Learning is an effective way of actively involving students in their learning.  Each session plan comes with suggestions about how to organise activities and worksheets that may be used with students.

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    Chemistry of dentistry

    Learn about the role of chemistry in dentistry.

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    Aspirin book

    This book contains eight free-standing activities that can be used singly or as a coherent package in a wide range of teaching and learning situations for both academic and vocational courses.

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    Gaviscon

    In association with

    Link the post-16 topics of acid and base neutralisation, weak acids, bonding and carboxylic acids to the topic of antacids. Learn about a range of real life contexts for these chemical ideas through written material, and questions to encourage learning and test understanding. 

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    Faces of Chemistry – Sun lotion

    In association with

    Learn from scientists at Croda about how the chemistry behind sun lotions helps protect our skin from damaging ultraviolet radiation.

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    Crisps

    Combining research, a practical investigation and a presentation of results.

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    Nurofen

    In association with

    Link the post-16 topics of bonding and solubility, isomerisation and reactions of organic functional groups to the topic of analgesics. Learn about a range of real life contexts for these chemical ideas through written material, and questions to encourage learning and test understanding.

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    Dettol

    In association with

    Link the post-16 topics of phenols, bonding and acids and bases to the topic of actiseptics.

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    Molecules against malaria

    In association with

    This medicinal chemistry case study is designed to introduce students to the development of antimalarial 4-aminoquinolines and the early stages of drug discovery and development. It focuses on antimalarial 4-aminoquinolines (4-AQs) and involves an introduction to malaria, its causes, societal impact and the need for new drugs. It then presents ...

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    Challenging Medicines: Physiochemical Properties - Practicals

    In association with

    Practical experiments associated with the handouts for Physiochemical Properties. Investigating the dissolution, pKₐ and rates of hydrolysis of everyday tablets are covered.

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    Challenging Medicines: Analysing Medicines - Practicals

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    Experiments that involve the colorimetric analysis of medicines and can be applied to other activities.

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    Challenging Medicines: Body Chemistry

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    Medicines and the development of pharmaceutical drugs have the potential to help us take on the challenge of human health - Improving and maintaining accessible health, including disease prevention.

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    Challenging Medicines: Introduction/Pedagogical Overview

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    Medicines and the development of pharmaceutical drugs have the potential to help us take on the challenge of human health - Improving and maintaining accessible health, including disease prevention.

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    Challenging Medicines: Physiochemical Properties

    In association with

    These resource sheets look at the different physiochemical properties of medicines. Pharmacokinetic processes, dissolution, ionisation and dissociation are all covered here.

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    Challenging Medicines: Making Medicines - Practicals and PPT

    In association with

    These resources show the extent to which everyday medicines can be made in the classroom. Using straightforward processes milk of magnesia and ear drops can all be made.