Chemical Detectives

Chemical Detectives


The goal of this collection of items is to set a purpose for the study of chemistry. As we know, some of the most captivating lessons are motivated by something that is either awe-inspiring or matter of pressing urgency in our everyday lives. As students study the periodic table, I believe their learning can be deepened by creating to connections from the multi-colored chart that hangs on their classroom wall to the real world consequences those elements have on our lives and on the people who study them through the lens of toxicology. By framing students as the investigators in the readings of “Chemical Detectives,” I hope students feel empowered to ask deeper questions about what they read and then extend those questions to the world around them.

These texts will be integrated into the course not to sidetrack from central content, but to provide supplemental readings that either engage students at the beginning of lessons or extend their knowledge at the end of lessons. Some of the themes included are societal implications of chemistry, identifying pseudoscience or false advertising, the history of toxicology, and first aid resources in case of exposure to toxic materials. Most of the materials are not content specific and can be used in a variety of ways, such as highlighting chemical and physical properties of elements, classifying reaction types, writing chemical formulas, or understanding solution concentrations.

Description of Students

The items included herein are targeted for students reading at or above a 9th grade reading level. A few items could be used to engage readers at lower levels with assistance. For ELL/ESL students, it will always be important to pre-teach vocabulary critical to understanding the text. I tried to include items that appeal to students who already have a love of chemistry as well as students who are approaching chemistry for the first time and are not sure if they have a purpose for learning the content at all. Students who are engaged by current events, history, or true crime will enjoy these texts the most.

Targeted SOLs

CH.2, CH.3, CH.4

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