Chemistry in My Kitchen

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Chemical Education Today

Especially for High School Teachers
by Erica K. Jacobsen

Chemistry in My Kitchen
The Jacobsen kitchen is an unusual place. The atmosphere is often more “mad scientist” than “gourmet chef ”. Testing JCE Classroom Activity procedures at home brings an eclectic collection of materials to our counters. Our toaster competes for space with a collection of funnels made from 2-liter plastic beverage bottles and rubber stoppers (1). Baking soda from my shelf joins citric acid from a natural foods shopping trip, to be molded into bath bubblers using plastic eggs left over from Easter (2). My young children view this as normal. They like to help with mom’s “chemistry experiments”, as I refer to them. They pour water into the funnels. They try out the bath bubblers in their evening bath. They are used to seeing ordinary household items used for something new, for something that is science. We talk about what we see. Without any explicit teaching from me or the use of specialized vocabulary, they make observations and in their own way, learn that chemistry is all around them. A surrounding environment of chemistry and the sharing of real world objects that connect to science can play a large role in helping students (or anyone!) relate to chemistry and its concepts. It happens in my kitchen. It happens in your classroom. The beauty of National Chemistry Week (NCW) is that it provides an incredibly easy way to surround students with chemistry that is related to familiar, everyday items and ideas. The American Chemical Society chooses themes that make connection to the real world as trouble-free as possible. The theme for October 17–23, 2004 is “Health and Wellness”; the 2005 theme is “The Joy of Toys”. (Have a submission idea with toys? Now is the time to start working on it!) JCE offers an issue dedicated to educator resources that connect NCW to multiple parts of your curriculum. Several articles in this issue link chemistry to items from the...
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