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Engineering Design Resources

Descriptive Title:
Topic:

The Science of Harry Potter: Basically Acidic Ink

Acid-base chemistry and the use of indicators

Standards/
Benchmarks:
VSOLs
CH.4 The student will investigate and understand that chemical quantities are
based on molar relationships. Key concepts include:
d) acid/base theory; strong electrolytes, weak electrolytes, and
nonelectrolytes; dissociation and ionization; pH and pOH; and the titration
process.
Source:
Howser, R., & Hawthorne, C. (2013). Engineering Out of Harry Situations: The
Science Behind Harry Potter. TeachEngineering. University of Houston.
https://www.teachengineering.org/view_curricularunit.php?url=collection/uoh_/c
urricular_units/uoh_hp/uoh_hp_unit.xml
Idea:
The purpose of this activity is to introduce students to acid base chemistry by
investigating what kind of substances ban be used as invisible inks. Students
will create invisible messages and reveal these messages using pH indicators.
Use:
This lesson comes as an introduction to acid-base chemistry. Students will be
given an open-ended goal of creating an invisible ink from the materials provided.
The instructor will provide several different acids, bases, nonpolar compounds,
ionic compounds, and pH indicators like red cabbage juice. Students will be
responsible for working in small groups of 4-5 to investigate how these solutions
interact with each other, which combinations will result in a color change, and
why those color changes occur. For assessment, students will create an example
invisible ink message to demonstrate their product and present a short 5 min
explanation of the chemistry behind invisible inks based on their research. The
following lesson will focus on the physical and chemical characteristics of acids
and bases as well as how they participate in neutralization reactions.
Materials:
For each group of students:
Index card (1 per person) and excess paper towels
Cotton swabs
Pipette
Access to resource materials (i.e. textbooks or the internet)

For whole class:


Solutions of:
Bleach
Lemon juice
Baking soda
Vinegar
Red Cabbage Juice
Vegetable Oil
Table Salt
Modifications:
1. Ask students to extend their knowledge by thinking about what kind of
household items could be used during the Revolutionary war to send spy
letters
2. Use to teach about the strengths of acids and bases by observing the variations
in color changes with the same indicator
3. Have groups be assessed by whether or not another group will be able to
decode their hidden message (i.e. whether or not they successful produced an
invisible message that can be revealed)
Descriptive Title:
Topic:

Test and Treat Before You Drink

Physical and chemical characteristics of solutions

Standards/
Benchmarks:
VSOLs
CH.2 The student will investigate and understand that the placement of elements
on the periodic table is a function of their atomic structure. The periodic table is a
tool used for the investigations of
h) chemical and physical properties; and
CH.4 The student will investigate and understand that chemical quantities are
based on molar relationships. Key concepts include
c) solution concentrations; and
d) acid/base theory; strong electrolytes, weak electrolytes, and
nonelectrolytes; dissociation and ionization; pH and pOH; and the titration
process.
Source:
Chatterley, C., Beggs, K., Zarske, M. S., Yowell, J., & Carlson, D. W. (2006).
Test and Treat Before You Drink. TeachEngineering. University of Colorado.
https://www.teachengineering.org/view_lesson.php?url=collection/cub_/lessons/c
ub_waterqtnew/cub_waterqtnew_lesson01.xml
Idea:

The purpose of this activity is to teach about water quality testing and basic water
treatment processes. Students will analyze water samples based on common
parameters such as pH, salinity, etc.
Use:
This lesson will come towards the end of a unit on mixtures and chemical and
physical properties of matter. Students will be introduced to the challenge of
water purification from local pond water to bottled drinking water. Students will
be tasked to individually research the standards for drinking water, and what
parameters should be tested for purity. These parameters will most likely include
pH, salinity, turbidity, ammonia concentration, etc. Once students have found
literature backing the standards for acceptable purity, they will work in small
groups of 3-4 to test samples of pond water, tap water, and bottled water to
determine which samples meet their specifications. Students will share in their
groups whether or not their samples where pure. Were the results what they would
expect? How could they improve the purity of the water?
Materials:
For each group of students:
Access to resource materials (i.e. textbooks or the internet)
Pond water
Tap water
Bottled drinking water
For whole class:
Instruments to analyze parameters identified by students. This may
include:
o pH meter
o Salinity meter
o UV-Vis Spectrophotometer
Modifications:
1. Have students create a filtration system to purify their pond samples to see if
they can reach the drinking water specifications
2. Use this as an interdisciplinary lesson with biology to test water samples for
common bacteria that can cause disease
3. Allow students to bring in samples from home to investigate what they are
drinking every day.
Descriptive Title:
Topic:
Standards/
Benchmarks:

Name That Metal!

Physical and chemical characteristics of metals

VSOLs
CH.2 The student will investigate and understand that the placement of elements
on the periodic table is a function of their atomic structure. The periodic table is a
tool used for the investigations of
h) chemical and physical properties
Source:
Laiwalla, A., McCabe, A., McCleary, K., Chaker, D. N., & Samson, C. (2013).
Name That Metal! TeachEngineering. University of Colorado.
https://www.teachengineering.org/view_activity.php?url=collection/ucla_/activiti
es/ucla_metal/ucla_metal_activity1.xml
Idea:
The purpose of this activity is to learn about the characteristics of metals by
creating an experiment to identify unknown metals.
Use:
This lesson can be used as an introduction to metals and their chemical and
physical properties. Students will start by researching metals and their defining
properties. Working in small lab groups, students will design an experiment to
identify their metals by their properties. It is expected that students will
investigate properties such as density and color. Students will need to search the
literature to find the true values of common metals in order to correctly identify
their unknowns. The results will be assessed based on whether or not the
unknowns were correctly identified. After this lesson, students will learn about
the properties of nonmetal and how metals and nonmetals form bonds.
Materials:
For each group of students:
10-15 pieces each of copper, aluminum, zinc, iron or brass (one type per
group) in a variety of shapes and forms, such as iron, aluminum and
copper nails, solid brass grommets, aluminum washers and/or spacers,
zinc metal rings
(optional, recommended) black spray paint
small cardboard box, such as a shoebox or similar/smaller box, to hold the
metal pieces
electronic balance (digital scale)
calculator
(optional) computer with Microsoft Excel or similar software with
graphing capabilities
For whole class:
rulers
graduated cylinders, various sizes
access to water
Modifications:

1. This lab can be used to identify substances other than metals as liquids also
have unique densities
2. Students can investigate if pennies are made of 100% copper based on the
accuracy of its density
3. Extend the activity to include experimental statistics such as percent error or
other measures of accuracy and precision
Descriptive Title:
Topic:

Concentrate This! Sugar or Salt Solutions Effect on Boiling Point

Phases of matter and solution concentrations

Standards/
Benchmarks:
VSOLs
CH.5 The student will investigate and understand that the phases of matter are
explained by kinetic theory and forces of attraction between particles. Key
concepts include
a) pressure, temperature, and volume;
d) phase changes;
e) molar heats of fusion and vaporization;
g) colligative properties.
CH.4 The student will investigate and understand that chemical quantities are
based on molar relationships. Key concepts include
c) solution concentrations; and
Source:
Herring, C. (2013). Concentrate This! Sugar or Salt. TeachEngineering.
University of Colorado.
https://www.teachengineering.org/view_activity.php?url=collection/wsu_/activiti
es/wsu_concentrate/wsu_concentrate_activity1.xml
Idea:
The purpose of this activity is to investigate the dependence between
concentrations and boiling point of sugar and salt solutions. The final goal is to
determine how to create a solution that has a particular boiling point and is a costeffective design.
Use:
This lesson will come in the middle of a unit on the phases of matter once the
class has covered heating curves and boiling point elevation. Students will divide
into lab groups of 3-4 to conduct an experiment to map out the heating curve of a
solution containing some concentration of either sugar or salt. Half of the groups
will test salt solutions and the other half will test sugar solutions, and no two
groups of the same solute should use the same concentration. This will be
controlled with a sign-up sheet. Each group will create a heating curve and

determine the boiling point of their solution to be shared with the class by a
collaborative Google Doc. When all groups have completed experimentation, the
class will convene to begin a discussion on which solute would be more cost
effective for producing larger changes with a lower concentration. Then students
will go back in their groups to determine and test a solution concentration that
would correctly raise the boiling point of the solution to a specified value. Groups
will be assessed by whether or not their solution meets the requirements.
Materials:
For each group of students:
beaker tongs or hot gloves
calculator
300 ml beaker
thermometer
burner or hotplate
200 ml water
graduated cylinder
glass stir rod
aluminum foil (4" x 4" piece) used to form a lid over beaker during boiling
For whole class:
electronic balance (capable of weighing 200 ml water plus beaker weight)
salt, approximately 250 g for every other group
sugar, approximately 540 g for every other group
Modifications:
1. Have students determine the concentration of an unknown solution from the
boiling point
2. Challenge students to develop an experiment to determine whether an
unknown solution contains sugar or salt
3. Allow students to choose from a variety of solutes at the same concentration
to test to determine which would be the most effective in comparison to a
control
Descriptive Title:
Topic:

Wizardly Wands and Chemistry

Thermodynamics, chemical reactions, and stoichiometry

Standards/
Benchmarks:
VSOLs
CH.3 The student will investigate and understand how conservation of energy and
matter is expressed in chemical formulas and balanced equations. Key concepts
include
b) balancing chemical equations;
c) writing chemical formulas;

e) reaction types; and


f) reaction rates, kinetics, and equilibrium.
Source:
Bird, M, & Chiappetta E. (2013). Wizardry and Chemistry. TeachEngineering.
University of Houston.
https://www.teachengineering.org/view_activity.php?url=collection/uoh_/activitie
s/uoh_wizardry/uoh_wizardry_activity1.xml
Idea:
The purpose of this activity is for students to apply their knowledge of reactions,
thermodynamics, and stoichiometry to produce their own low-intensity sparkler
wands.
Use:
This lesson is intended for more advanced chemistry classes such as Honors
Chemistry or AP Chemistry. The lesson will be situated at the end of a unit on
thermodynamics, assuming stoichiometry has already been covered. Students will
first work on writing possible chemical reactions to produce the typical sparkler
effect. Then, students will use their knowledge of thermodynamics and kinetics to
determine if the reaction is spontaneous and what their reaction rate might be. If
the thermodynamics check out, students will use the balanced chemical equation
to assign concentrations/amounts of chemicals based on the limiting reagent to
limit the amount of waste in their sparkler. At the end of the project, students will
have the opportunity to go outside and (safely) have fun with their wands.
Materials:
For each group of students:
9 g dextrin (starch)
20 ml distilled water (available at grocery stores)
20 cm length 2 mm diameter Fe wire (iron wire available at hardware
stores)
150 ml beaker
stir rod
hot plate
test tube rack
18 x 150 mm test tube
oven capable of 120 C
aprons, goggles and fume hood
scale with weighing dishes, to measure ingredients
wash bottle, for cleaning glassware
Whole Class and optional materials for personalization:
5 g iron powder (-200 mesh)
g magnesium powder (-325 mesh)
7.0 g aluminum powder (-40 + 325 mesh)

6 g barium nitrate
25 g potassium nitrate
powdered metals: iron, aluminum, magnesium
nitrates: potassium and barium nitrate
miscellaneous: dextrin, iron wire, distilled water

Modifications:
1. Provide instructions for each Harry Potter house for students to be able to
create a specific combination of colors
2. Have students research how they would improve burn rate or change the color
of their sparkler wands
3. Assess students by having them complete a lab write-up or report for their
investigation