Captivating Chirality

CH, AP Chemistry, IB Chemistry, AP Biology, IB Biology

Standards of Learning: 2010 Chemistry (CH.6); AP & IB Topics: AP Chemistry (Topic 1, Structure of Matter; IB Chemistry (Topic 20,6, Stereoisomerism); AP Biology (Topic 1, Molecules & Cells); IB Biology (Topic 3, The Chemistry of Life)

Chiral molecules are pairs of molecules with identical chemical composition but mirror-image molecular structures. They are vital in genetics, metabolism, sensory functions, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, biominerals, and the search for life on other planets – in fact, chirality is life! Engaging classroom activities foster students’ visual-spatial thinking, as they investigate chiral molecular structures, model real-world applications of chiral molecules, and explore fascinating techniques for detecting chiral substances.


Chemical Bonds in the Nanoworld


Standards of Learning: 2010 Chemistry (CH.2, CH.3)

Carbon atoms and hydrocarbon molecules open up the world of the very small to students. Research into carbon nanotubes, buckeyballs, and methyl coatings show us some of the amazing properties of this common element. Students will build models and practice with three-dimensional pictures of molecules to develop an understanding of bonding and molecular geometry in nanoparticles.

Crunch This!


Standards of Learning: 2010 Physics (PH.1, PH.2, PH.4, PH.6, PH.7)

How does the design of the crumple zone of a car maximize safety and minimize damage during a crash? During this inquiry-based lesson, students will utilize their creativity and knowledge of force, mass, acceleration, impact, and momentum to design and test the crumple zones on remote control cars. Students will use video and measurements taken with probes during car crashes to analyze their designs.

I'm Stuffed: Ultracapacitors and Energy Storage


Standards of Learning: 2010 Physics (PH.1, PH.2, PH.3, PH.4, PH.6, PH.7, PH.11, PH.12)

Unlike fossil fuel resources they replace, many alternate energy sources, like wind power and solar, are not always available. To make them practical, they require some way to store energy for use when the power is needed but is not being generated. Ultracapacitors offer a new alternative to rechargeable batteries and utilize nanotechnology to increase the overall efficiency of the systems. Activities include constructing capacitors from common materials, comparing the energy storage characteristics of capacitors and batteries, and modeling regenerative braking. Students will discover how nanotechnology allows small devices to pack a big punch!

Soaking Up Some Rays: New Developments in Solar Energy


Standards of Learning: 2010 Physics (PH.1, PH.2, PH.3, PH.4, PH.7, PH.8, PH.12)

New materials and technologies are revitalizing the Solar Energy industry, which utilizes the physical and chemical properties of matter and behavior of light to transfer light energy into usable electrical energy. Students will design and conduct a hands-on evaluation of conventional and new technology solar cells, focusing on the efficiency of the energy transformations that make practical the capture of the limitless energy of the sun as a source of alternate energy.

"Sea-ing" is Believing: Investigating the Possibility of Clean Energy Using Salt Water Fuel Cells - NEW


Standards of Learning: 2010 Chemistry (CH.1, CH.3, CH.4); 2010 Physics (PH.1, PH.3, PH.4)

Salt water fuel cells provide clean energy transfer, green technology, carbon footprint reduction. Students will investigate MgO fuel cells as a redox reaction using a saltwater electrolytic cell by building and powering a saltwater fuel cell car. Students will need calculators and a basic understanding of chemical reactions; stoichiometric math will be reviewed.

Room Requirements: A flat area to run cars is necessary.

The Color of Quantum


Standards of Learning: 2010 Chemistry (CH.2); 2010 Physics (PH.12)

Fireworks, neon signs, and LEDs produce an array of beautiful colored light. Amazingly, the light emitted is due to the movement of excited electrons. In this lesson, students will conduct hands-on, inquiry-based investigations using LED lights, gas discharge tubes, and probeware that will guide them through the structure of atoms, properties of matter, periodic trends, and the fundamentals of Quantum Mechanics. Students will also discover how the knowledge and application of Quantum Mechanics and nanotechnology are used in many of the products we use every day.