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Quick Chemical and Physical Change Ideas

Every time I ask students what they hope they get to do in science, I always get someone that will say that they want to blow up things and make potions. Although that might be fun...science in elementary school is not about blowing up anything, but more so, mixtures and solutions and  learning about chemical and physical changes. Some of this might even include a chemical reaction lesson or two.  When it comes to science instruction, allowing students a variety of different means to learn a concept goes a long way. As educators, we know that a variety of ideas isn't always feasible,  so making sure that we include vocabulary,  hands on learning, and review is going to go along way to retaining new information.



There are some fun and engaging activities that I have done that help students connect to science concepts and also be wowed by some engaging experiments! Here are some ideas for your next chemical and physical change unit/lessons that I worked on this week.

Anchor Charts:

Vocabulary and concepts are always where I start. My students do not have much background knowledge, so we share a lot of examples and connect our background knowledge to get them thinking and connecting. 


T Charts/ Fold ups/ flip book:
 

I often use some type of review that allows for students to use pictures and words to connect to their new vocabulary better. Once they are done, I have them take a picture and put it in their camera roll for review for a test. 

Experiments: 

Penny Cleaning and oxidation: With chemical and physical changes, we test pennies in different acids and bases to learn about oxidation. I first share with them facts about the Statue of Liberty using Wonderopolis  Why Is the Statue of Liberty Green? Once I share with them what is shared, which is a ton of great background and intro to pennies and oxidation...I then give them a baggie with a penny, paper towel, and a packet of ketchup from the school cafeteria. I also give them a vial of apple juice. I show them the two liquids and test them with BTB to show if it is an acid or a base. I then share with them my other liquids I will test for them which include cleaner, baking soda and water, salt and water, cola, hot sauce, and vinegar. We even have used an eraser to see if we can erase off the patina. 



What happens when the penny gets cleaned? The oxygen in the air and the copper in the pennies oxidize which means a coat or patina makes the pennies look dirty. The acids such as vinegar or ketchup break down the copper oxide on the penny. When you use a solution of salt and water the salt breaks down the chlorine ions that bonded with the copper. A copper chloride is created which will break down more copper oxide off of the penny making it a great way, just like ketchup to clean off the penny. 

Glow Sticks are also a great way to show chemical reactions in class. Who doesn't love glow sticks? Why glow sticks?  We can teach stored energy which is called potential energy. Glow sticks contain potential energy in the form of chemicals, fluorescent dyes and a chemical called hydrogen peroxide. No light can be released until the chemicals are mixed together. When you mix the chemicals together when you crack the glow stick, they react to make new chemicals and release excess energy in the form of light, transforming chemical energy into light energy. How bright the stick glows depends on the temperature on its environment. 

Now...this is where the perfect experiment for students to observe comes in! You can demonstrate this yourself or share a video such as the one below. Adding heat to a chemical reaction makes the glow stick glow brighter for a short period of time. Colder water/environment will allow the glow stick to glow longer, but not as bright. It will release the energy more slowly. 

I give each student a glow stick to break, read about, connect with the experiment, then take it home. We also make connections with mixtures and solutions because that is the unit we are working on when we learn about chemical changes. We then answer questions that I post on see saw. We record our observations and describe how glow sticks cause a chemical change.  Follow the link to check out a quick experiment that my students love...she is relatable for them and we love her accent. 




Candy Care Packages and Physical Changes: Each year, I like to find a way to show students how to pay it forward through STEM and Science Lessons. This year, we have a staff member who has a soldier family member over seas. We will be sending a care package out for Valentine's Day this year. We will be giving two types of candy in plastic bags to each student. Along with hot water, we are testing to see what kind of candy would be the best to send over seas to a desert. I have bagged up (this is my lesson starting next) chocolate Kisses, Starburts, Skittles, Milk Duds, Jolly Ranchers, and Gummy Bears. We will make predictions as to what we think will be the best candy to send and what would not do well in a hot climate. Each student will get hot water to place the baggies in. Along with a popsicle stick, they will poke and press the candy each three minutes for the next 12 minutes. 

Ticket Out the Door/Assessments/Review:

 I have to say that I just love using Boom and Google Slides to assess and review concepts for each of my units and lessons. I project the cards on the smartboard, airdropping the record sheet to the students or placing the record sheet on see saw. Then as I project, they record their answers and then share that with me. I also have them correct their own work at times when we are checking for our own understanding. I use Boom Decks as well because it is a great way to collect data immediately. 



Want your own ticket out the door Chemical or Physical Change in google slide format? Find it here!
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