Practical chemistry for NQTs

Classroom resources featuring activities from our Practical chemistry for NQTs professional development course for teachers

This collection of classroom resources features activities from our Practical chemistry for NQTs course for teachers, from our Teaching Chemistry series. This collection is most valuable to those who have attended this course and wish to put into practice with their students some of the ideas and activities presented as part of that event. Please note that this list is not exhaustive; not all trainer activities have a corresponding classroom resource. In some circumstances there is variation between the training resource and classroom resource.


A microscale study of gas diffusion

Observe the diffusion of the gases ammonia and chlorine, and their relative rates as a function of molecular weight


Black box

The nature of science resources try to give students an awareness of science as a changing body of knowledge. This resource contains activities for students which help them understand the difference between observation and inference, and how to interpret patterns.


A solid-solid reaction between lead nitrate and potassium iodide

In association with

Prove that two solids can react together by using white lead nitrate and white potassium iodide to make yellow lead iodide.

A picture showing molecular models built out of plasticine and cotton buds

Reasons to craft your own molecular models

And how to get the most out of them

An image showing a triangle on which two of the sides are made out of stairs; on the top of a triangle there is a fire, on the bottom left, a chemical reaction represented by space filling models is filled, and on the bottom right, the chemical reaction o

Develop deeper understanding with models

How to bridge the gap between the ‘seen’ science and the ‘unseen’ explanation

An image showing a teacher surrounded by students, sitting inside a structure that resembles the structure of a 5-membered ring

How to teach scientific models

Be explicit when explaining models and their purpose

An image showing a male teacher holding a piece of paper with the structure of methane on it, a methane ball and stick molecular model, and thinking about an alternative model view; the blackboard behind shows the chemical formula of methane

Reflect on your use of models

Use scientific models effectively

Students and teacher using computers

Un-muddling models

How to use models in the classroom more effectively


The atom detectives

This resource presents chemists as real people and not stereotypical ‘mad scientists’ whose lives are completely dominated by science.

Ammonia tank

Diffusion of gases: ammonia and hydrogen chloride

In association with

Place concentrated ammonia solution on a pad in one end of a tube and concentrated hydrochloric acid on a pad at the other and watch as the two gases diffuse far enough to meet and form a ring of solid ammonium chloride.


Diffusion of gases – a safer alternative to bromine

Demonstration of the diffusion of gases.


Diffusion in liquids

In association with

Demonstrate the diffusion that takes place in liquids using colourless crystals of lead nitrate and potassium iodide at opposite sides of a petri dish of deionised water.


Generating, collecting and testing gases

In association with

Gases give rise to particular hazards so great care must be taken when preparing, collecting or testing.


The ‘whoosh’ bottle demonstration

In association with

A mixture of alcohol and air in a large polycarbonate bottle is ignited. The resulting rapid combustion reaction, often accompanied by a dramatic ‘whoosh’ sound and flames, demonstrates the large amount of energy released in the combustion of alcohols.


The methane rocket

A strong plastic bottle is filled with a 2:1 ratio of oxygen to methane and the mixture ignited with the bottle standing on a suitable ‘launch pad’. The mixture ignites with a loud bang and the bottle flies several metres.

Beaker containing blue liquid and dry ice on top

Endothermic solid-solid reactions

In association with

Observe an endothermic reaction as solid hydrated barium hydroxide is mixed with solid ammonium chloride to produce a liquid that evolves into ammonia gas. The temperature drops dramatically to about -20 °C.


Spontaneous exothermic reaction

In association with

In this demonstration experiment, a mixture of glycerol (propane-1,2,3-triol) and potassium manganate(VII) crystals bursts into flame, giving off clouds of steam, after a short time lag.


Competition for oxygen

This experiment involves the reaction of a metal with the oxide of another metal. When reactions like these occur, the two metals compete for the oxygen. The more reactive metal finishes up with the oxygen (as a metal oxide). If the more reactive metal starts as the oxide then no ...


The thermite reaction

In association with

Prove that aluminium is a more reactive metal than iron by demonstrating the highly exothermic reaction between aluminium and iron(III) oxide resulting in molten iron.


Extraction of iron on a match head

In association with

Students reduce iron(III) oxide with carbon on a match head to produce iron in this small scale example of metal extraction. The experiment can be used to highlight aspects of the reactivity series.

Experimental setup for cracking hydrocarbons in liquid paraffin

Cracking hydrocarbons in liquid paraffin with a catalyst

In association with

Model the industrial process of cracking larger hydrocarbons to produce smaller alkanes that can be converted into petrol. 

Demonstration of the recombination of hydrogen and oxygen with splint

Exploding bubbles of hydrogen and oxygen

In association with

Produce a small explosion in your classroom by electrolysing water then re-combining the hydrogen and oxygen gas.

Limestone quarry

Limestone Chemistry

This activity is most appropriate for students aged 14-16 to illustrate chemical reactions and useful materials made from rocks.


Anecdotes: In the Limelight

The background and chemistry of burning calcium with hydrogen and oxygen to make ‘limelight’.


Universal indicator ‘rainbow’

In association with

Create a ‘rainbow’ effect in a glass tube using universal indicator solution, hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide.


Neutralisation circles

Drops of dilute acid and alkali are placed a few centimetres apart on a sheet of filter paper and allowed to spread out until they meet. A few drops of Universal indicator are then placed over the moist area of the filter paper and a band of colours showing the ...


The sublimation of air freshener

In association with

Sublimation is an interesting physical change. When a substance sublimes, it changes directly from a solid to a gas without passing through the liquid state. Dry ice sublimes, as do iodine and mothballs. This experiment involves the study of another common substance that sublimes – air freshener.