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 Environment
8) Chemistry at the Interface

Unit 7.6 Recycling Aluminum
This unit deals with the uses of aluminum and efforts to recycle it. In the classroom students learn the chemistry of recycling aluminum cans to form alum.
Video program cues: 40:05-57:30

Aluminum or platinum?

Teachers’ forum

"When the Washington Monument was originally built, the debate was whether to get an aluminum cap or a platinum cap. And since all students know that and recognize that, we go cross-curriculum into American history of that time. That gets them back to why were aluminum (which for them is a wrapping that you drop) and platinum (which is considered something wonderful) considered on par with each other. And we get back to what it was like at that time, what was the state of chemistry and the available knowledge around the world at that time, and what you could think is absolutely true: aluminum is rare, difficult, impossible to use, but suddenly becomes totally different. We talk about the economic effect because I believe the cap was taken off during WW2 with aluminum scrapes on it, and the effect that it would have if we had a platinum cap on there now. They made this simple decision because it was going to cost them the same, either way."

Tom Pratuch
Annandale High School, Virginia

Craig, N.C. (1997)' ACS National Historic Chemical Landmark: Charles Martin Hall's Discovery of the Electrochemical Process for Aluminum, 'Journal of Chemical Education, Vol. 74, No. 11, pp: 1269.

Aluminum recycling laboratory

Al DeGennaro teaches about chemical recycling, by making alum from aluminum soda cans.



Orecchio, S. (2001)' Recovery and Reutilization of Waste Matter from Coffee Preparation. An Experiment for Environmental Science Courses, 'Journal of Chemical Education, Vol. 78, No. 12, pp: 1669-1671.

New composite materials

"These are actually the very first composite materials that we made with soybeans. This is part of a round-tape bailer that was made up for John Deere. To mass-produce these, we worked with several fabricators on the outside, and these are currently being used. John Deere currently switches from metal based blades to composite material blades, and the possibility of using the farmers’ own soybeans to make combined harvesters from their own products is very appealing.

"There are several reasons why people are attracted to these materials. From a fundamental property point of view, they are pretty much the same as petroleum based materials. They do have some exceptional impact resistance. But I think most importantly, these materials are very environmentally friendly; they are made from renewable resources. When you look to the future, and you run out of oil in 70 years, and of natural gas in 80 years, you would like to maintain your life-style, affordably, with low-cost, sustainable materials this is a real vision of the future."

Dr. Richard Wool
Professor of Chemical Engineering, University of Delaware

Environmental chemistry

"Kids naturally gravitate to this topic, so we usually pick a few labs during the course of first year chemistry and have them either go out to get and analyze samples, or have discussions on these topics and come up with their interest in acid rain. When they get into acid-base chemistry, we talk about the misconceptions that they have. They have no idea where it comes from or what the causes are. How environmental protection aspects either influence or do not influence air quality. They are totally unaware, and they have no idea that the air is much cleaner than it was 10-20 years ago. And impacts like that. So these topics are really easy to get into, almost any unit that you do in chemistry. The kids actually come up with these questions, and if they don’t, you make sure that they have them."

Caryn Galatis
Thomas Edison High School, Virginia


McGowin, Audrey E.; Hess, George G. (1999)' Incorporation of GC-MS into an Environmental Science Curriculum, 'Journal of Chemical Education, Vol. 76, No. 1, pp: 23-24.

Are we a sustainable civilization?

"At the introduction to my lectures, I always ask my audience: Do you think that we live in a sustainable civilization? I have asked almost three thousand people this question, including the scientific intelligence leadership of the world, and nobody has raised their hands and said that we live in a sustainable civilization. As you peel the time back they say that we might only be sustainable for decades. This is clearly something very, very central to our future, and the really exciting thing about it is that chemistry is really big in this. Chemistry can do wonderful things, as it has already done, for humanity. We reflect so much on the negative things, but it has done so many wonderful things, that it’s also central to our continued healthy future."

Dr. Terry Collins
Professor of Chemistry, Carnegie Mellon University

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