Reflection: Joy Introduction to Chemical Reactions - Section 5: Reactions 3 + 4: Decomposition of Hydrogen Peroxide and Ammonium Dichromate


Students enjoy story telling, this is one of the reasons they tend to enjoy the humanities over the sciences many times.  Whenever possible, I like to tell a story with my demonstrations, and this example is one I made up on the spot my first year of teaching.

The kernels of truth are:

  • My wife's cousin's husband did work at Lincoln Park Zoo
  • The demonstration is commonly called Elephant toothpaste.

The rest of the story was improvised and embellished over the years.  This year, two of my four classes left the room thinking I had invented an elephant toothpaste and had a side income from zoos for it.  The classes that asked if the story was true found out that I made it up, but I swear them to secrecy for the rest of the week.  Students buy into this story despite this demo having been prominently displayed in the Flinn safety video at the start of the year and done in  much larger scale on the Tonight Show during first semester and having made the social media rounds.

The story draws students in, but it is important to not let the story dominate the learning.  Having the sheet for students to record observations and cement their thinking helps bring them back to the chemistry they learned, not just the great story that Mr. Stadt told us.

  Story telling
  Joy: Story telling
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Introduction to Chemical Reactions

Unit 6: Chemical Reactions
Lesson 2 of 10

Objective: SWBAT explain that reactions involve the rearrangement of atoms into new substances.

Big Idea: Matter is conserved in chemical reactions; synthesis and decomposition are two types of chemical reactions.

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