Chemistry for non-specialists

Classroom resources and activities from our professional development course for non-specialist teachers of chemistry

This collection is most valuable to those who have attended our Chemistry for non-specialists course and wish to put into practice 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.

An illustration with red and blue circles representing particles of two gases mixing

Diffusion of gases on a microscale

Try this class practical to explore the diffusion of gases and how relative molecular mass affects rate of diffusion. Includes kit list and safety instructions.

Translucent crystals of sodium thiosulfate on a red-orange surface

Supercooling and the energetics of freezing

In association with

Explore what happens when a liquid is supercooled using sodium thiosulfate in this class practical. Includes kit list and safety instructions.

Image

Distillation

Distillation separates liquids on the basis of them having different boiling points.

Equipment set up in a school laboratory for an experiment simulating the fractional distillation of crude oil, with a side-arm test tube, a thermometer and a delivery tube

The fractional distillation of crude oil

In association with

Try this class practical or demonstration to simulate the industrial fractional distillation of crude oil. Includes kit list and safety instructions.

Five leaves representing different stages of turning brown, from completely green to yellow to fully brown

Leaf chromatography

In association with

Try this class practical to use paper chromatography to separate and investigate the pigments in a leaf. Includes kit list and safety instructions.

A close-up photograph of three test tubes containing precipitates of blue copper hydroxide, red-orange iron(III) hydroxide and green iron(II) hydroxide

Microscale reactions of positive ions with sodium hydroxide

In association with

Try this microscale practical exploring the reactions of various positive ions with sodium hydroxide. Includes kit list and safety instructions.

Image

Testing for negative ions

This activity is in two parts; first, students make observations while carrying out tests for various negative ions, then they use their observations to help identify the negative ions present in a number of solutions.

Magnesium ribbon

Displacement reactions between metals and their salts

In association with

Students will investigate competition reactions of metals and determine a reactivity series of the four metals used. Includes kit list and safety instructions.

A macro photograph of the head of an unlit matchstick

Extraction of iron on a match head

In association with

Try this practical as a small scale example of metal extraction, reducing iron(III) oxide with carbon on a match head. Includes kit list and safety instructions.

Rhubarb stalks in a row against a dark grey background

Rate of reaction of potassium manganate(VII) and oxalic acid

In association with

Investigate the effect of surface area or concentration on rate of reaction using oxalic acid in rhubarb and potassium manganate(VII). Includes kit list and safety instructions.

A photographic illustration of a series of pencils arranged side-by-side with points following the shape of an upward curve, as if on a graph

Interpreting rate of reaction graphs | 14-16 years

Use this lesson plan for 14–16 year olds to practise interpreting rate of reaction graphs, revising factors such as concentration, temperature and surface area.

Red foaming reaction in conical flask

Hydrogen peroxide decomposition using different catalysts

Demonstrate the effectiveness of different catalysts for the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide by assessing the reaction rate of varying mixtures of hydrogen peroxide, washing up liquid and a selection of catalysts.

An image of a yellow substance dissolving and diffusing in a clear liquid

Diffusion in liquids

In association with

Demonstrate that diffusion takes place in liquids in this practical using lead nitrate and potassium iodide. Includes kit list and safety instructions.

Image

Electrolysis of potassium iodide solution

Filter paper soaked in potassium iodide solution which also contains starch and phenolphthalein is placed on an aluminium sheet which forms one electrode of an electric circuit. The other electrode is used as a ‘pen nib’ to ‘write’ on the filter paper. When this electrode is made positive and the ...

Photo of the equipment used to measure a chemical reaction rate using a gas syringe

The rate of reaction of magnesium with hydrochloric acid

In association with

A class practical on reacting magnesium with hydrochloric acid and how to measure the rate of reaction. Includes kit list and safety instructions.

A variety of glassware and containers of sodium hydroxide and phenolphthalein indicator in a laboratory

A microscale acid–base titration

In association with

Use microscale titration to complete an acid–base neutralisation with sodium hydroxide in this class practical. Includes kit list and safety instructions.

Image

Titration

The addition of one reagent (the titrant) from a burette to another reagent until an end-point is reached is known as a titration. These have to be done with great care and precision to establish reliable and accurate results.

An image showing a copper coin reacting with silver nitrate

Displacement reactions

Activities, tips and ideas to help students get to grips with the reactivity series

Two coloured cobalt solutions - one pink, one blue

The equilibrium between two coloured cobalt species

In association with

In this demonstration the equilibrium between two different coloured cobalt species is disturbed. Le Chatelier’s principle is used to predict a colour change.

An overhead photo of people crossing the road in different directions

5 ways to explain rate and equilibrium

Help your students understand the synergy between rate and equilibrium and answer exam questions successfully

Bucket of water

Easier equilibrium

How bailing buckets can support students’ grasp of Le Chatelier’s principle

Image

Ri Christmas Lectures® 2012: Allotropes of Carbon

A teaching resource on Allotropes of Carbon, supported by video clips from the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures® 2012.

Image

Bonding models

This activity gets the students to think of the model they have been taught as a model rather than the truth.

Stopwatch

A chemical stop-clock - iodine clock reaction

Design a chemical stop-clock using different dilutions of two colourless solutions which, when mixed together will remain colourless for a period of time and then suddenly change to a deep blue colour.

Further reading for participants

Colour illustration of lady with rucksack and map walking through a landscape of paper

Improving practical work with integrated instructions

2018-11-28T11:39:00+00:00By

Do your students struggle to follow written instructions?

Burette taps

Making measurements

2018-08-20T11:47:00+01:00By

Help your students use appropriate apparatus to make and record a range of measurements

Boiling jam and thermometer in a saice[am

Monitoring reactions

2018-12-05T15:41:00+00:00By

Encourage students to observe and measure reactions

Scientists observing a chemical reaction

Observation skills

2017-07-24T13:33:00+01:00By

How to develop students’ observation skills in practical chemistry

Calendar

Retaining knowledge from practicals

2018-11-27T14:16:00+00:00By

Research shows how a novel pedagogy aids the retention of learning over time

An image showing flasks in soapy water

Thank you very much for being our technician

2020-02-27T09:17:00+00:00By

How appreciating technicians is appreciated by science technicians around the country

Hazard suit in a laboratory

Hazards, safety and apparatus

2018-06-11T10:32:00+01:00By

Top tips for 11–14 chemistry classes

A picture of hazards pictograms on brightly coloured tubes

Lab safety

2019-01-29T14:26:00+00:00By

Encourage students to assess risk effectively

An image showing repeating chocolate ice cream bars on sticks against an orange background

States of matter and particle theory

2019-03-26T10:22:00+00:00By

Progressing from macroscopic to the microscopic world of the particle

A number of different mixtures of different coloured beads

Mixtures and solutions

2018-04-16T10:23:00+01:00By

Top tips for 11–14 chemistry classes

Coffee filter

Separation techniques

2018-11-26T12:04:00+00:00By

Distilling the essentials of separation

An image showing flashcards

Why you need to teach literacy to teach dist-ill-a-tion

2019-11-01T09:38:00+00:00By

Students need to learn the language of science to make progress in chemistry

Glass spiral pipe of reflux condenser isolated on white

Practical distillation

2017-11-09T11:27:00+00:00By

How to develop your students’ distillation knowledge and practical skills

Neelum Munir

Neelum Munir: Chromatography sales specialist

2014-11-01T10:55:00+00:00By Hayley Simon

Hayley Simon meets a chemist who built a successful career after some early setbacks

An image showing three thin layer chromatography plates; each is suspended in a measuring flask using a lolly stick and paper clip, the flasks are all on a workbench.

Let them get it wrong

2019-09-03T10:27:00+01:00By

How making mistakes improves learning

An array of milk bottles on shelves

Chromatography fights food fraud

2018-06-04T11:58:00+01:00By ,

How chromatography helped solve a food safety crisis – includes classroom resources.

Image

Iodine clock demonstration video

2018-01-16T10:25:00+00:00In association with

A video and teacher notes providing an introduction to reaction rates and kinetics, in which a colourless solution changes to dark blue.

EiC 0217 - CPD - Hero

Practical chromatography

2017-03-09T08:10:00+00:00By ,

Ideas for enhancing practical chromatography

0416EiCFeatureChromatographyF1300tb

Scaling new peaks

2016-05-31T00:00:00+01:00By

Nina Notman admires the plethora of different uses for the separation techniques known collectively as chromatography

An image showing a metal displacement reaction

Reactivity and displacement reactions

2020-02-03T14:01:00+00:00

Consolidate students’ understanding with these engaging activities

An image showing a copper coin reacting with silver nitrate

Displacement reactions

2020-02-03T14:00:00+00:00By

Activities, tips and ideas to help students get to grips with the reactivity series

0116EiCCPD300tb

Rates of reactions

2015-12-21T00:00:00+00:00By Steve Hacker

Steve Hacker explains how the concept of reaction rates could be introduced

Close-up of stopwatch face

Rate experiments

2018-01-24T09:10:00+00:00By

Enhance your rate of reaction practical work

Copper ore in a warehouse

Practical electrolysis

2017-06-16T09:57:00+01:00By

Ideas for enhancing electrolysis practical work

An image showing four students running on separate roads towards an intersection where a large electrochemical beaker is placed; each of the 4 students is holding a specific model used to explain electrochemical concepts

Different approaches build understanding

2019-07-17T10:45:00+01:00By

How a variety of practical work improves learning

0115EICCPDThumb300tb

Moles and titrations

2015-01-06T00:00:00+00:00By

Dorothy Warren describes some of the difficulties with teaching this topic and shows how you can help your students to master aspects of quantitative chemistry

An image showing a mole peaking out of the ground

Five steps to help students master mole calculations

2019-04-09T10:31:00+01:00By

Scaffold moles to build confidence

0416EiCCPDF1300tb

Acids and bases

2016-05-23T00:00:00+01:00By

Morag Easson explains how to neutralise student difficulties