Studying Chemistry at Home

Elementary, secondary, and high school students studying chemistry at home can take advantage of many free online resources.

Chemistry Demonstrations for Kids

High School Level

  • The British Columbia Open Education initiative hosts a comprehensive electronic textbook: Introductory Chemistry – 1st Canadian Edition by David W. Ball and Jessie A. Key
  • The Khan Academy provides a free online course in chemistry. It includes written material, video lectures, and interactive quizzes.
  • The American Chemical Society curates a webpage with links to many resources for high school level chemistry.
  • openstax provides free, electronic textbooks at the upper high school / first year university level. Their chemistry textbook was written by professors who teach chemistry at the university level and is internationally recognized as a top-quality resource.
  • MIT provides the complete lectures and course materials for their introductory chemistry course Principles of Chemical Science on their OpenCourseware site.
  • High school level chemistry requires extensive algebra and arithmetic. The Royal Society of Chemistry provides a booklet that reviews some of the most important mathematical concepts for chemistry.

Demonstration Videos

Our department has performed demonstrations for Science Rendezvous, a national science outreach event. Some of our demonstration videos are available on YouTube. These demonstrations should not be attempted at home.

The Harry Potter Reaction

A mixture of methanol and boric acid are mixed in a flask. Sulphuric acid is added to catalyze its conversion into methyl borate, a colourless liquid that burns with a green flame.
3 CH3OH (ℓ) + H3BO3 (s) → (CH3O)3B (ℓ) + 3 H2O (ℓ)


Elephant's Toothpaste

A hydrogen peroxide solution and dish soap are placed in an Erlenmeyer flask.

Hydrogen peroxide can decompose to form water and oxygen gas, but the reaction occurs very slowly.

2 H2O(aq) → 2 H2O(ℓ) + O(g)     (slow)

We add an iodide solution so that the reaction happens quickly through a catalytic mechanism.

H2O2 (aq) + I (aq) → OI (aq) + H2O (ℓ)

H2O2 (aq) + OI (aq) → H2O (ℓ) + O2(g) + I (aq)

The oxygen gas produced by this reaction forms tiny bubbles with the dish soap, creating a foam.


Liquid Nitrogen

The atmosphere is primarily composed of nitrogen gas (N2 (g)). If this gas is cooled to very low temperatures (−195.79 °C), it will condense into liquid. This liquid can be used to freeze materials rapidly. Here, we use liquid nitrogen to freeze an apple, which becomes solid and brittle.

 

Tutors

Parents who are interested in hiring a tutor to help their child succeed in their science courses should post a request on the chemistry society Facebook page. One-on-one instruction is one the most effective ways to learn a subject, so students who are struggling to learn in a classroom setting can thrive when they work with a tutor. Videoconferencing is now a popular option for students to meet with their tutors. Many excellent undergraduate and graduate students are available who are well-qualified to tutor chemistry, mathematics, physics, and biology.

Contact

Department of Chemistry

230 Elizabeth Ave, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1B 3X9

Postal Address: P.O. Box 4200, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1C 5S7

Tel: (709) 864-8000