September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1

Kitchen Chemistry

Posted: Thursday, November 1st, 2012

by Judith Aguilar

My favorite aspect of attending the CSTA Conference is getting new ideas from practicing teachers. My all-time favorite lesson that I picked up as a new teacher was for Kitchen Chemistry.  It was perfect for my 5th grade classroom. It had all the components I needed for the scientific process and it covered the CA standard for chemical reactions. You set up a station of mystery liquids and powders to demonstrate some common reactions such as exothermic and endothermic, bubbles and fizzes, and creating a neutral solution when mixing an acid and a base. It also follows the 5E lesson plan template, which is a great learning cycle for all students.

All the materials you will be using are perfectly safe to use in the classroom. As the name gives it away, all your materials will come from the kitchen. It takes a lot of preparation on the teacher’s part, but the results are well worth the time. The materials you will need are zip-top bags, plastic spoons, small plastic cups with lids, cabbage juice indicator, vinegar, water, sodium chloride, cornstarch, sodium carbonate, powdered lemonade, Epsom salts, flour, lemon juice, and tincture of iodine. All these materials can be found in your grocery store. The small plastic cups with lids are the type that ketchup and such “to-go” condiments come in.

Label the powders with letters and the liquids with numbers. The chemical reactants are purposefully not identified so students can’t just guess at what caused the reaction. The rule is that the students have to mix two powders with one liquid and witness the change. They will write down the formula they used and the changes they observed, decide whether it produced a chemical or physical reaction, and then go back to choose another formula. They eventually need to choose a change that they try to replicate at least three times, pinpointing the powder or liquid combination that causes that change. The vocabulary words they are using are:

  • solution,
  • reactants
  • products
  • chemical change
  • physical change

During this lesson, students are engaged, ask questions, collaborate with other groups, and it is very exciting for them when they observe an exothermic or endothermic reaction.  They truly experience the scientific process by trying out new formulas and trying to explain what is happening, using what they have already learned from previous lessons and activities.

Powders: Liquids:
A=Flour 1=Water
B=Epsom salts 2=Water w/cabbage juice indicator
C=Powdered lemonade 3=Vinegar with cabbage juice indicator
D=Calcium chloride 4=Sodium Carbonate solution w/ purple cabbage juice indicator
E=Sodium carbonate 5=Diluted lemon juice with cabbage juice indicator
F=Corn starch 6=Diluted tincture of iodine solution

Written by Judith Aguilar

Judith Aguilar is a science teacher in the Long Beach Unified School District and is a member of CSTA.

4 Responses

  1. Yay Judith! Good work!

  2. Thank you for sharing your lesson with us. You mentioned above that you have a 5e lesson plan to go along with this. Can you post the lesson plan as an attachment to your article?

    Thanks Again!

  3. I am glad I was able to share. I have a written out format of my lesson, but I will type it and attach it this week-end for you.

  4. Judith, I was thrilled to see the article and especially you as the author of the article!
    Thank you for sharing your good work. I am soo proud of you.

Leave a Reply


California Science Assessment Update

Posted: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

by Jessica Sawko

In June 2016 California submitted a waiver application to discontinue using the old CST (based on 1998 standards) and conduct two years of pilot and field tests (in spring 2017 and 2018, respectively) of the new science assessment designed to support our state’s current science standards (California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) adopted in 2013). The waiver was requested because no student scores will be provided as a part of the pilot and field tests. The CDE received a response from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on September 30, 2016, which provides the CDE the opportunity to resubmit a revised waiver request within 60 days. The CDE will be revising the waiver request and resubmitting as ED suggested.

At its October 2016 North/South Assessment meetings CDE confirmed that there will be no administration of the old CST in the spring of 2017. (An archive of the meeting is available at Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Some ways to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in your classroom

Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

by Carol Peterson

1) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It’s called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided “tour” from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails. Ideas are included for use in classrooms. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

2016 Award Recipients – Join CSTA in Honoring Their Accomplishments

Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2014 and 2015 PAEMST-Science recipients from California, and the 2016 California PAEMST Finalists. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2016 California Science Education Conference  on October 21- 23 in Palm Springs. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!

Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award

John Keller

John Keller

The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching. This year’s recipient is John Keller, Ph.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Co-Director, Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In her letter of recommendation, SDSU science education faculty and former CSTA board member Donna Ross wrote: “He brings people together who share the desire to make a difference in the development and implementation of programs for science teaching. Examples of these projects include the Math and Science Teaching Initiative (MSTI), Noyce Scholars Program, Western Regional Noyce Initiative, and the Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program.” Through his work, he has had a dramatic impact on science teacher education, both preservice and in-service, in California, the region, and the country. He developed and implemented the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program which aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice. SFSU faculty member Larry Horvath said it best in his letter:“John Keller exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist, science educator, and mentor. His contributions to science education in the state of California are varied, significant, and I am sure will continue well into the future.” Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

NGSS: Making Your Life Easier

Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

by Peter A’hearn

Wait… What?

NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?

The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. Learn More…

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the K-12 science specialist in the Palm Springs Unified School District and is Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Celestial Highlights, September 2016

Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt 

Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset from SoCal, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from W to WSW and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5° N of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus descending in the west, and blue-white Vega passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in SSW as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the SW. Learn More…

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by Robert Victor

Robert Victor

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs, CA. Robert is a member of CSTA.