Developing and using models

Classroom resources featuring activities from our Developing and Using Models professional development course for teachers

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.



The atom detectives

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

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.


Black box

Classroom activities to help develop ideas and evidence in science, as part of scientific enquiry. Includes black box investigations: tricky tracks, the cube and a model tube. 

Ammonia tank

Diffusion of gases: ammonia and hydrogen chloride

In association with

A demonstration to show the diffusion of gases, using ammonia solution and hydrochloric acid. Includes kit list and safety instructions.

A sample of solid yellow lead iodide on a glass dish against a white background

A solid–solid reaction between lead nitrate and potassium iodide

In association with

Use this demonstration with kit list and safety instructions to prove that two solids can react together, making lead iodide from lead nitrate and potassium 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


Chemical misconceptions II: Elements, compounds and mixtures

Explore and understand pure substances and mixtures; elements and compounds, through active study. 


Chemical misconceptions II: Mass and dissolving

This exercise is primarily aimed at the 11–14 age range, to discover more about dissolving solids in liquids. 


Ionic Su Doku

This activity gives students practice at working out formulae in a problem solving context.

A white polystyrene food container with the lid off, on a red-pink background

Addition polymerisation with phenylethene

In association with

Use this practical or demonstration as an example of addition polymerisation using phenylethene to form polyphenylethene. Includes 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. 

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.

A piece of the Group 1 metal sodium in a petri dish against a neutral background

Heating Group 1 metals in air and in chlorine

In association with

Use this demonstration to illustrate the reactions of lithium, sodium and potassium in air and in chlorine. Includes kit list, video and safety instructions.


Bonding models

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


Chemical misconceptions II: Changes in chemistry

Explore chemical and physical change in chemistry, explain what each mean, and classify examples of these changes. 


Chemical misconceptions II: Spot the bonding

This activity asks learners to explore their knowledge of different bonding types, through diagrams of 18 bonds.