In search of solutions

Try these ideas for chemical "egg race" competitions that engage students and motivate them to follow a scientific or technical career

These resources have been taken from the book In search of solutions. Aimed at those following post-16 chemistry courses, the book encourages students to design their own experiments in relation to the tasks set, and as they overcome the obstacles within the tasks, their inventiveness and enthusiasm flourishes.

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    A birthday cake candle timer

    In Search of Solutions: Burning candles lose mass, use this knowledge to make a timer. Linking to topics on cumbustion and friction.

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    Apple browning

    In Search of Solutions: Let students explore the best methods to prevent fruit browning. Linking to topics on chemical preservatives and biological oxidation.

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    Bigger and better bubbles

    In Search of Solutions: Have fun challenging students to produce different sized bubbles. Linking to topics on surface tension.

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    Building a chemically powered boat

    In Search of Solutions: Build the best vessel to pit against peers in a gas powered boat race. Linking to topics on acids/bases and their chemical reactions.

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    Chemical circuit breaker

    In Search of Solutions: Rescue a forgetful scientist by devising a chemically powered circuit breaker. Linking to topics on reactions of acids and metals.

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    Colour creation

    In Search of Solutions: Use acid/base titration and indicator solution to produce colourful solutions. Linking to topics on acids/alkalis and indicators.

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    Desert survival

    In Search of Solutions: Challenge students to extract drinking water from damp sand, a real desert survival scenario! Linking to topics on evaporation and condensation.

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    Fight fire! Fill up with foam

    In Search of Solutions: Design and build a fire extinguisher, competing to produce the most foam. Linking to topics on colloids, combustion and acid/base reactions.

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    Funny felt pens

    In Search of Solutions: Use chemical wizardry to change the colour of felt pens! Linking to topics on chromatography, acids/alkalis, indicators, dyes and polar/nonpolar solvents.

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    Heating power of a candle

    In Search of Solutions: Pitch humble candles vs a mighty bunsen burner, determining their equivalence. Linking to topics on energy and temperature change.

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    Indicator puzzle

    In Search of Solutions: Extract colours from plants and use them as chemical indicators. Linking to topics on buffers, acids/alkalis and indicators.

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    Is the secretary guilty?

    In Search of Solutions: Budding forensic scientists are tasked to determine glass contamination in sugar. Linking to topics on dissolving, filtration, evaporation, chemical changes and crystallisation.

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    Just a can of cola?

    In Search of Solutions: Encourage students to think creatively, what properties can they measure of a can of cola? Linking to many topics, depending on the investigation, as well as scientific thinking and experimentation.

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    Kitchen currents

    In Search of Solutions: Build a battery from common kitchen items, who can deliver the most current? Linking to topics on electrolytic cells and reactivity series.

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    Lift Oxo cubes to dizzy heights

    In Search of Solutions: Design and build a machine to lift Oxo cubes, who can lift the highest? Linking to topics on production of carbon dioxide gas.

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    Making invisible ink

    In Search of Solutions: Become secret agents by developing your own invisible inks. Linking to topics on chemical reactions.

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    Making your own indicator

    In Search of Solutions: Use dyes to create a reliable indicator. Linking to topics on acids/alkalis and indicators.

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    Mrs Johal's class

    In Search of Solutions: Sand, sawdust and salt, all mixed up, can your students recover them? Linking to topics on dissolving, evaporating, filtration and density.

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    Natural dyeing

    In Search of Solutions: Extract natural dyes and use them to make colourful artwork. Linking to topics on dyeing, mordants and indicators.

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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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    Pigments

    In Search of Solutions: Chromatography is used to identify unique pigments extracted from various plant materials. Linking to topics on chromatography and extraction.

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    Quick jelly

    In Search of Solutions: Save time in the kitchen by finding the fastest way to dissolve jelly cubes. Linking to topics on rates of reaction and dissolving.

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    'Recycled shipwrecked cargo' demands group

    In Search of Solutions: As environmental scientists, use your knowledge to clean up a shipwreck involving Group 1 and 2 chemical elements. Linking to topics on sublimation, magnetism, filtration, evaporation and solubility.

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    Research division, Standish Chemical Company

    In Search of Solutions: As chemical engineers, you are contracted to determine how concentration affects the rate of a reaction. Linking to topics on rates of reaction and acid/base chemistry.

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    Salty crisps

    In Search of Solutions: Decide on the least salty crisps, chemically or otherwise! Linking to topics on dissolving, filtration, evaporation and health.

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    Secret in the sachet

    In Search of Solutions: Can you test the performance of a home-made flower preservative against the commercial alternative? Linking to topics on chemical preservatives.

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    Technician in trouble! What solutions are which?

    In Search of Solutions: Can you distinguish between water, acid, alkali and indicator solutions? Linking to topics on acids/alkalis and neutralisation.

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    The cooking an egg using least energy challenge

    In Search of Solutions: Ready, steady, cook; chemistry style! Who can make the most efficient egg cooker? Linking to topics on energy, efficiency and insulation.

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    The duck pond problem

    In Search of Solutions: Rescue wildlife from a pollution disaster, reversing the effects of acidic waste. Linking to topics on neutralisation and acid/base chemistry.

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    The heavy lift cup challenge

    In Search of Solutions: Use chemical gas formation to create a lifting device, challenging students to the strongest lift. Linking to topics on acid/base chemistry and production of carbon dioxide gas.

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    The ten gram boat race

    In Search of Solutions: Design and build a boat powered purely by soap! Challenge students to create the most efficient design. Linking to topics on rates surface tension.

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    The ups and downs of chemistry

    In Search of Solutions: Challenge pupils to balance sinking against floating, with a toy submarine concept. Linking to topics on solubility, acid/base chemistry, density.

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    Water for survival

    Cover topics like filtration, distillation and temperature as your pupils purify water from a muddy pond to survive.

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    Which bleach is the best buy?

    In Search of Solutions: Give consumer advice by determining the chlorine content of various bleach brands. Linking to topics on redox reactions, industrial technology and chlorine.

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    Which fuel is better?

    In Search of Solutions: Give consumer advice as to the best camping fuel, determining the heating power to boil water. Linking to topics on energy and combustion.

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    White powder mix-up at the factory

    In Search of Solutions: As chemical engineers, you are contracted to determine how to identify several different white powders… Linking to topics on chemical reactions and physical/chemical changes.