Despite the common misconception that "chemical" means toxic and is the opposite of natural, chemistry is the study of all substances (natural and man-made, toxic and nontoxic). Here's a sampling of what the Net has to offer those interested in Online Chemistry 101.
How big is an atom? Try this experiment to find out for yourself. Cut " . . . a twenty-eight centimeter strip of paper in half as many times as you can. If you can cut the strip of paper in half thirty-one times you will end up with a piece of paper the size of an atom." Wow! Based on an energy exhibit currently running at the Miami Museum of Science, each monster member of the Atoms Family introduces a topic such as Atoms and Matter, Energy Conservation, and Light Waves. Under each topic, you will find a variety of activities and learning pages for grades four through twelve.
"So you're asking, what is chemistry? Well . . . here's our best definition. Chemistry is the study of matter and the changes that take place with that matter." Written in a fun, conversational style, this fabulous site can be navigated in several ways. Jump right to the subject that interests you (is it Elements, Reactions, or Matter?) or navigate through the most important pages of each subject with the Guided Tour. The tour can be found on the Key Topics page, along with a glossary and profiles of famous chemists.
Now class, open your comic books. Today we are studying the periodic table -- and not just Superman and krypton, either. From hydrogen (H) to lawrencium (Lr), clicking on most of the elements in this periodic table will transport you to a comic strip reference. "I know you have no nerves, but my stinger injects a chemical compound of the world's most potent elemental poisons . . . from lead to arsenic, to chlorine, krypton, selenium, and strontium." This very creative approach puts the fun back in chemistry. Don't miss it.
"When writing names of elements, a chemist usually uses abbreviations, since they are quicker to write than the names. The abbreviations that we use are called symbols. None of the symbols contain more than two letters; the first one is always capitalized and the second, if any, is always lowercase." Thus we get O for oxygen, C for carbon and He for helium. This virtual chemistry textbook was created by a team of three high school students for the 1996 annual ThinkQuest competition.
"The numbers on the pH scale run from 0 to 14. Substances with lower pH's have much
more hydrogen, or H+, than substances with higher pH's." Written for both elementary/middle school students and teachers, this lesson on acids and bases includes many hands-on activities such as cleaning pennies, making invisible ink and mapping the tongue's taste buds. The seven E sections (Excite, Explore, Explain, Expand, Extend, Exchange, Examine) can be used sequentially, or in random order.