Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Sub Image2:Macro to Micro Structures
1) Atoms and Molecules2) Macro to Micro Structures 3) Energetics and Dynamics 4) Theory and Practice in Chemical Systems 5) Chemical Design 6) The Chemistry of Life
7) Chemistry and the Environment8) Chemistry at the Interface

Unit 6.2 Finding Chemicals in Unexpected Places
The chemistry of food and of the human body is discussed. Ways of teaching the "chemistry of biology" are presented.
Video program cues: 5:45-14:10

Chemistry is in everything

Students’ ideas

"We see all sorts of things happening in life, like right now, when we’re breathing, that’s chemistry there. Also, everything we touch, everything we see, all those particles that we ought to know what they are…everything here is chemistry, just looking."


Relating chemistry and biology

"Because most of the students in class came recently from a biology class, we also try to begin chemistry by relating to the things that they already know."

Dr. Leslie Pierce
Thomas Edison High School, Virginia

"If you can take what you are doing in a first year chemistry course and relate it back to what they did in biology — they talked about the chemistry of life, chemicals in the cell, the basic biochemical reactions on the cellular level. If the chemistry teachers make themselves familiar with what the kids did in the course before theirs, they can find all sorts of things to talk about. What you introduce in chemistry relates a lot to chemistry of life."

Caryn Galatis
Thomas Edison High School, Virginia

"I’m at a school of the performing arts, where everybody is concerned about appearance. The food that you put in is all chemicals. Everything has its caloric value. So keeping a journal of what you put in and how much energy you are expending everyday, and then weighing yourself everyday, relates the chemistry of what you eat and the energetics of what you do to your weight and to your appearance, which for most of the kids where I teach, is the most important thing in their life."

Dr. Michael Clarke
Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Washington, DC

"I think when you get into equilibrium, you can always relate to things from biology and physiological systems. Maintaining a pH balance in your blood, and why that’s important, or why you run and get cramps."

Caryn Galatis
Thomas Edison High School, Virginia

"Sometimes after we are done with equilibrium, and looking at LeChatalie’s principle and how the addition of one thing shifts the equilibrium, and you can shift it back and forth, I try to bring in the fact that there is an equilibrium within the body. This exists between different sorts of reactions, and if you start taking drugs you can shift these reactions in ways that could injure you permanently. We really are all chemists, without even thinking about it, we run millions of reactions and they must be maintained at equilibrium."

Irene Walsh
St. Andrews Episcopal School, Maryland

"We started talking about what happens if a child goes under the sink and gets into chemicals. From that point of departure I found a whole category of students who are not usually interested in chemistry suddenly sitting up, and I talked to them afterwards about being responsible for their brothers and sisters at home. They knew of somebody whose child had been poisoned. And when it suddenly sunk in, why you cannot dilute chemicals in a child’s belly… those students are pulling A’s in acids and bases because it was taken to a whole level for them. It’s what they came in with that takes the direction for me, not what I come with."

Tom Pratuch
Annandale High School, Virginia


Schwartz, A. T.; Serie, J. (2001)' General Chemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology: An Experiment in Curricular Symbiosis, 'Journal of Chemical Education, Vol. 78, No. 11, pp: 1490-1494.

Iron in your cereal demonstration

Dr. Leslie Pierce Iron is extracted from cereal by putting it in water over a magnet. Dr. Pierce follows a student's idea for the activity.



  • Site contains demonstrations and laboratories assembled in a short time with a limited number of solutions to illustrate a specific point. Click on Iron in Cereal "Experiment" to see QuickTime movies of this experiment.

Senozan, N. M.; Christiano, M. P. (1997)' Iron as Nutrient and Poison, 'Journal of Chemical Education, Vol. 74, No. 9, pp: 1060-1064.

Proceed to Unit 6.3 arrow

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