Category Archives: Chemistry


I want to go over what happened in my Chemistry class during this past co-op year.

Here is what I learned.

  • I have no business teaching Chemistry.  :/
  • Using the Carbon Lab Notebook was not a great idea.  It was just ok.   There were two times when I was able to prove the student did not do her lab work, so that was good.
  • The math… Oh the math!!  AKA Stoichiometry.
  • You cannot teach Chemistry with a lab in 1.5 hours a week.
  • I wish I had a lot more time to go over the Periodic Table.
  • I am so done with Chemistry.


Since I was working as Admin at my co-op, Testing Coordinator for H.E.R.I., teaching my own kids, etc….   I had no time to prepare for anything extra for the Chemistry class.  That really bummed me out since I do like to embellish my classes.  But we still had some fun…


Powdered drain clear. Lye.  Seemed like that was the main ingredient in every experiment. LOL  We did not have a window to open, so we did the best we could inside or we went outside.


The last co-op day before our Christmas break is usually just one big party.  Chemistry class was no exception.  We played with Helium balloons.  Helium molecules are lighter than air, which makes the balloons float and make your voice sound funny.

046 - Copy

We also played with dry ice.  That stuff is cool.  When left alone in the bucket, the vapors “fog” will flow down the outside of the bucket real creepy like.  Solid Carbon Dioxide is heavier than air, so it will drift downwards.   Must still have some kind of lesson on party day!


Module 9: Molecular Geometry   I do not have a molecule learning kit, so I improvised and used tooth picks and playdough.  It was easy.  It was cheap. It was fun.  VESPR theory.  Valence Shell Electron Pair Repulsion. 🙂  I gave the students different molecules to use, which they had to figure the Lewis Structure and then build the 3D model.  It turned out great!



It wasn’t too often we got to play with the test tubes.  Acids and Bases.  Yes, there is Lye in there somewhere.



This experiment was in place of another one and I just can’t remember which one it was. LOL   All I can remember was the experiment in the textbook required Lye…again.  So, I chucked that one out the window and made Elephant Toothpaste.  This is what I really wanted to do.  But ended up using the “safe” recipe.   The students loved it.




Those are just the few fun things we did.  We drudged through the book and made it to the end.  I am happy to say that all the girls did very well.


Now that I am no longer the Testing Coordinator, I have been helping updating the H.E.R.I. Website and just took over their advertising.  This is all done at home, which is what I really wanted.   If anyone needs a place to advertise their homeschool friendly product, on the H.E.R.I. website, just let me know. I’ll send you some info.  We have 600+ families!


On a very brighter side, I am returning to facilitating Biology.  So excited about that.  Yes, this will be my VERY last year in Biology.  My two youngest girls will be in the class and once they are done, so am I.

Blessings Y’all!

The Conservation of Mass

Looks like I need to back track a little, since I apparently have skipped a few lessons.

Module 3 of Exploring Creation with Chemistry – The Conservation of Mass


All that means is matter cannot be created or destroyed; it can only change forms.

In a nut shell, when matter goes through a wiz-bang change the total mass remains the same. Ta-dah!  Still don’t get it?  Ok.

Get a pair of funky colored goggles and neon yellow rubber gloves.  Must haves for all chemistry labs.   Seriously.


Obtain items for exp. 3.1: beakers, watch glass, Lye (we used Drano – washes your troubles down the drain), vinegar, water, pot, purple cabbage, stove, mass scale, stirring rod, etc..  In this experiment we boiled cabbage to get the color out and into the water.  Now we are trying to figure out if the mass of matter is the same before and after it goes through any kind of change.  To do that, we have to measure everything.

We measure the beaker, the lye, the watch glass, the everything…  Here you see my pink student measuring her beaker in her mass scale.  Sorry, I don’t have any measurements to give, because I no longer have their lab write-ups and can’t remember what the weights were.


While the cabbage is boiling  you stop, put your finger on your nose and think about the experiment and where it is going.


Measure out a specific amount of the Lye and place it on the watch glass.   Then have this conversation with one of your students?

  • Student: Mrs. Goodrich, what happens if you get Lye on your fingers?
  • Me:  It burns your skin.
  • Student:  Can I touch it?
  • Me:  No.
  • Student:  Uh, I think I got some on my hands because they are burning a little bit.  Can I go wash my hands?
  • Me:  Sure.  I also got some on my hands.


Here some of the cabbage water is in the beaker with some vinegar.  You can see just a little bit of pink at the bottom of the beaker in the mass scale.  Vinegar (acid) turns the anthocyanins pink.


Next step is to tip the watch glass and pour the Lye into the pink liquid.  Lye is a base and neutralizes the vinegar and turns it into a lovely shade of yellow snot.  I hate the word snot, but that is what the students called it.



So, we had vinegar, Lye, and water with cabbage coloring in it.  All was measured. Let’s say it measured XX grams.  It was then mixed all together causing chemical changes to occur and the whole thing was measured again.  The mass was XX grams.  Ta-dah!

Matter cannot be created or destroyed; it can only change forms.

Ionic or Covalent?

Apologia Chemistry

We are making our way through Module 3 of Exploring Creation Through Chemistry.    In this module we learned there must be at least one metal atom and at least one nonmetal atom for a compound to be classified at Ionic.   The compound will be Covalent if it contains only nonmetals.

Experiment 3.2  will show us that Covalent compounds do not conduct electricity, but Ionic compounds will.

Students attached copper wires, using electrical tape,  to a 9V battery.


The other end of the wires were put into a beaker that had distilled water.  Distilled water is 99% pure.  The students kept their eyes on the beaker…. for a while.  Suddenly they are getting bored.  Why?  Because absolutely nothing is going on!  What is the purpose of this experiment if nothing is going on?  Good question, but there is something going on and that something is nothing.    That means distilled water is a covalent compound made up of Hydrogen and Oxygen.


Next we add in some Sodium Bicarbonate, aka Baking Soda.  It has at least one metal in there.   NaHCO3  Do you see it?


Now oooo and ahhhhh.  Something is happening here.  See those bubbles?  That means electricity is being conducted and it is breaking down the water.


Next experiment….contacting alien beings.  Or other Chemistry students.  Same thing.


Co-op Day

Tuesday, members of my co-op ordered boxed lunches from Firehouse Subs.  Whenever we order lunches, they always arrive during third period, which is the time I facilitate a science class.

This Tuesday my classroom door was opened and I heard lots of moving about in the hall.  I look out and there was my wonderful husband.  He had stayed home to do some work on his truck, so he came to the co-op to pick up lunch for our two girls who were home sick.  Since lunch wasn’t served until another 20 minutes. I pulled him into the classroom.

I was not going to waste this opportunity to have a nerd facilitate the class for 20 minutes.  He answered questions like, What is the name of this compound NaHCO3 (the 3 is a subscript).  Is it called Sodium Hydrocarbon Trioxide.  No that’s not it.  It is called Sodium Bicarbonate (aka Baking Soda), because the HCO3 is a bicarbonate.  Whatever.  The other question he answered was how does someone split an atom.  He explained that too.

Then I had him explain The Law of Definite Proportions.  Look that up if you need to know what that is.  My point here is the students were not getting it.  They understood the naming of the NaHCO3, and the instructions on splitting an Atom, but they had trouble with this law.  I chalk that up to my awesome teaching skills.  Let’s face it, I do not speak the language of Math.  So…husband to the rescue!


And this is what the students looked like when The Husband got started.


Yeah.   It didn’t look good there for a while.  However, by the time he was done the students assured me they really understood what he was saying.  I am just going to go along with that.

On a completely different topic, I knitted a cute hat for The Violinist.


I Built a Calorimeter and Determined the Specific Heat of a Metal

That title sounds like I am awesome smart doesn’t it?

In reality, I just stuck two Styrofoam cups together and plugged numbers into an equation.  Do I still sound awesome smart?  Didn’t think so.

We just finished Module 2 of Exploring Creation with Chemistry by Jay Wile. For Experiment 2.2 a calorimeter is needed to perform the experiment.  Styrofoam cups are a great insulators, so they work well as a calorimeter.

A calorimeter is a device used to measure quantities of absorbed or released heat or for determining specific heats.

Lab 2.2 requires two styrofoam cups, but does not state there should be a top on the cups. I kept thinking a lot of heat will be lost out the top.  So, I took a look in the All Lab, No Lecture book and it gives instructions on how to make a lid for the cups.

You need two circles for each calorimeter.  I made one for each student to save time in the classroom.  I bought two thick foam sheets from Michale’s and cut one 3 1/8″ diameter and the other 2 3/4″ diameter.


Elemer’s Glue was used to glue the first two together, which didn’t work very well.  A hot glue gun works a lot better.   Glue the smaller circle to the larger one.


Drill a hole through the center of both lids.  The hole needs to be big enough for the thermometer to slip through.


The smaller side sits down into the cup, while the larger side sits on top of the cup.  This helps trap in the heat to get a more accurate measurement.


Now to figure the specific heat of a metal:

A large piece of metal measuring at least 30 grams is needed.  Two heavy nuts were used to get the amount of mass I needed for the experiment.  Measurements are below.

We need the metal heated to 100 ºC, boiling point. Once the metal was heated to 100 ºC, they were quickly removed and placed in the calorimeter, and lid closed.

The thermometer was gently swirled to get the heat distributed evenly.


Record keeping is essential in Chemistry. Always record all numbers.

  • Mass of the metal. 37grams
  • The calorimeter  was weighted to get the mass.  9grams
  • Water was added to the calorimeter and measured again.  124grams
  • The difference is the mass of the water.  115grams
  • Initial temperature of the water.  26 °C
  • Final temperature of the water.  28 °C
  • Initial temperature of metal.  100 °C

Now we can calculate the specific heat of the metal, using the following equations (these are explained in Exploring Creation With Chemistry :

  • q = m •  c •  ΔT
  • -q object = q water + q calorimeter

And here is a photo of my work.


The specific heat of the two nuts was .36 J/g°C

Each of my students had similar results.

Please do not ask me to explain my calculations.  I cannot do that over the internet.  🙂


Calibrating a Thermometer

Apologia Chemistry  – What’s happening at my co-op.

Did you know that most thermometers are not accurate?  I had no idea.

In Module 2 we learned the boiling point of water measured in Fahrenheit is 212 degrees.  In Celsius it is 100 degrees.  The freezing point of water measured in Fahrenheit is 32 degrees, while in Celsius it is zero degrees.

This may not be a surprise to any of you and it certainly isn’t a surprise to me.  However; I have always had to ask someone what is the boiling point of water in Fahrenheit or Celsius, because I forget…until now.  It clicked.  I remember it.  I’m like Dorie in Finding Nemo.

Fahrenheit 212 boiling.  Fahrenheit 32 freezing.
Celsius 100 boiling.  Celsius 0 freezing.
Hey, I remembered.  Want me to say it again?  Ok…..

Please tell me that is something to be proud of.

Back to class!

Each student is given a thermometer (Celsius) they will be working with throughout the year.  To accurately calibrate the thermometers we have to find where the measurement stops at freezing.

We used crushed ice and cold water.  After a set amount of time, they take the temp.  If it is below zero, they are to add whatever to get to zero.  If it was above zero they are to subtract whatever to get to zero.  Any time the students use their thermometer they have to make adjustments on every measurement.


You know, I don’t think the kids can get more excited.

Once the thermometer is calibrated, we set the beaker on a hot burner to start warming up the water.  They were to take the temp. every minute and hopefully get to boiling.


Four students heated their waters, while one recorded their mesurement.  Since I could do this experiment at home, my daughter was the one to do the recording.


Keep on stirring.  We never made it to boiling.  Hot plates and alcohol burners are not chemistry experiment friendly.  ug…..


The students made a graph of the temperature to time.  What it should show, and it does here, is that the freezing point remains the same for a short time and then rises.  What it should also show, but doesn’t because we couldn’t get it to boil, is once it hits boiling at 100 C, the temp remains the same as long as it is a rolling boil.


Once home, the daughter and I performed the same experiment.  We put the beaker right on the burner.  Oh, you noticed I have a beaker in my home.  Are you asking if I have Chemistry equipment in my home?  Why yes.  Yes, I do. I’ll post about all the Chemistry goodies I have later.


When it is at a rolling boil, can’t be stirred down, the temp should read 100 degrees C.   My daughter’s thermometer calibrated at -1.  That means she has to add 1 to all of her measurements with this thermometer.

As you can see here, the temp stopped at 99 degrees.  Adding 1 makes it 100, where it should be.


That, people, is calibrating a thermometer. 🙂

Density – Module 1

Exploring Creation With Chemistry by Dr. Jay Wile

On this day we studied density. Density is an object’s mass divided by the volume.  Formula looks like this…

Well that looks easy enough.  What is awesome about density is every substance has its own special density.   To work on this, we did Exp. 1.1 The Density of Liquids.  After following the procedure in the book, the students slowly poured in their liquids.  Each student had their own liquid to find the density of and then to pour it in a jar.

Yes, I let my students take some photos of their experiments.


The experiment called for Maple Syrup, veg. oil, and water.  Since I had five students, I added alcohol and liquid dish soap.

To properly pour liquids into the container, the students slowly poured the liquid down a glass stirring rod.  This helped keep the liquids from mixing.


Up close visual.


Here we start to see the layers.  I wish I could say this was a WOW factor, but it was more like  oh, that’s cool.   I wanted it to look like this, but it didn’t happen.  The best way to see the separate layers is to get at eye level.


It was also a lot easier to see the layers when a light is shined through it.  I don’t have a good picture of the layers, but you could see them.  The interesting part I saw was the dish soap and the water were the same density.  They did mix quite a bit, but we could still see some separation.


And of course all students much clean up after themselves.  Look at those orange slip-on shoes.  Love them!

Exploring Creation With Chemistry

Exploring Creation With Chemistry: 2nd Edition

For our 2013-2014 co-op year, we are using Exploring Creation With Chemistry 2nd Edition by Jay Wile.

2013-2014 Chemistry Schedule – This is different than what I did for Biology.  I am hoping the kids are old enough to be able to schedule their own study time.  Pop quizzes will help with this. 😉

Other schedules can be found at

Carbon Lab Notebook

A carbonless lab notebook is the answer to “I lost my lab”,  “Yes I DID turn it in”.  Now I can say just hand in your lab notebook and let me see!  🙂  Sweet!  Normally I would like to use the Composition Notebook, but with only 1.5 hrs class time, once a week, it doesn’t work well.  I need to be able to take the books home to grade.

If you have lefties that hate the spiral bound, you can find a top-bound book at Rock Solid.

Another awesome lab notebook paper can be found at

Before students can enter the classroom, their parents and students must sign a Safety Rules agreement.  You can see it here.  This is just something I did that works with our classroom.  You might need to add or delete from it.

I am excited and scared about facilitating this class.  It is my first year and Chemistry is not my best subject.  It probably isn’t even a good one. lol  I am thankful to be learning right along with the students.  My husband has graciously agreed to help me through this class.  He has lots of wisdom in this area and I hope to have him do a guest post with any question you may have.  I’ll let you know when to start asking. 🙂

Stay tuned for frequent updates throughout the year.

Have a blessed school year!

Chemistry – I don’t get it!

I made the mistake of telling some moms at our homeschool co-op, that I will not be teaching Biology next year.  I’d like to teach Chemistry.  Why?  Because I am getting tired of digging in frog guts and need something else to do, like making a structural modification devices.

So, I have been doing some reading and exploring all things Chemistry-ie and I have come to this conclusion. I don’t know what I am doing.  There I said it.  The math alone is making my eyeballs fall out one at a time and I am only on Module One in the Apologia Chemistry book!  I’m also working through my daughter’s Saxon Alg. 1 book.  It isn’t helping that much either.  Seriously! Do I really need to do Chemistry?  I need to clear my brain and I need a sign from God.

I am taking a break from the math to look at some Chemistry fun stuff.  Looking doesn’t require thinking.  That’s why your brain gets sucked out of your eyeballs while you watch stupid stuff on T.V.

I already have in my science library the following books I’d like to share with you.

The Disappearing Spoon:  And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements – by Sam Kean – This is a fun book.  I like the behind the scene stories of each of the elements.  I haven’t finished the book, but like it so far.

The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe –  by Theodore Gray  This books is awesome.  Has great photos of each of the elements, list some everyday uses, where it is placed on the Periodic Table, and other things I don’t understand like the Electron Ordering Filling.  Say what?

llustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments: All Lab, No Lecture – I haven’t really looked at this, but got it because one of my Twit friends, Melanie at FairlySquare Or Tressa at Tressays were talking about it.  That meant I had to get it.  Besides I ALWAYS add extra excitement to my class and I am sure I can find something in this book.

 FREE Periodic Table of the Chemical Elements  – I have this for my Nook.  It doesn’t do anything, but it does make me look smart.  All I have to do is leave my eReader open to this and people think I’m smart. Or not.

Besides getting some great books, I love watching educational science videos.  As long as they are less than 10 minutes, I’m good.  A short video might be just the thing to get a student to understand a concept.  Works great in Biology and should work in Chemistry too!

After searching around, I found the Periodic Table of Videos.  They look interesting enough.  The professor behind the videos is Martyn Poliakoff (I think).

After watching the first video, I got my sign from God.  I think He is telling me I should go ahead with the Chemistry.

This is Martyn Poliakoff.  I saw this today 9/6/2012


And this was from 12/2010


You can read all about this creepy science teacher here.

A coincidence?    I think not.

I’m going to need a whole lotta help next year!