Chemistry in Society (N4)

The key areas covered in this Unit are:

metals and alloys — reactivity series, reactions of metals, corrosion, physical and chemical protection of metals, electrochemical series and electrochemical cells, voltage and electroplating, extraction of metals displacement reactions, composition, uses and physical properties of alloys

Coca-cola powered clock (Demo) - Different metals to generate electricity using coke as the electrolyte (could be done as a class experiment)

Electroplating faces (Demo) - nickel plating of a copper coin.

Growing Silver Trees (Demo) - Displacement reactions producing dendritic crystals of silver.

Turning copper coins into silver and gold (Demo) - Zinc plating a copper coin with sodium zincate and then heating it to make brass.

Zinc electroplating - microscale - a small scale version of the experiment above.

Salt and Battery: Use of fruit juices and different metal electrodes to generate an electric current.

Copper Etching - Use of a displacement reaction to etch a zinc plate and use it for printing

Plastic Fantastic - Synthesis and testing of an electrically conductive plastic - polypyrrole.


materials — polymers, monomers, name of polymers, thermosoftening and thermosetting plastics, properties, uses and combustion of plastics, biodegradable plastics; advantages and disadvantages of natural versus synthetic polymers, ceramic materials properties and uses; development of new materials unique properties; reuse and recycle materials

Dehydrated snow (Demo) - Absorption of water by sodium polyacrylate hydrogel.

Disappearing Water (Demo) - Absorption of water by sodium polyacrylate hydrogel

Gloopy and gooey (Demo) - two related experiments - Gaviscon in copper sulphate solution and PVA/Borax - both cross-linking polymers (could be done as class experiments)

Smart Materials: Some short activities involving commercially available smart chemical materials.

Polymer Slime: Making slime from borax and PVA glue - and looking at the properties as the composition varies.


fertilisers — plant nutrients and elements, natural and synthetic fertiliser


nuclear chemistry — formation of elements and background radiation


chemical analysis — qualitative analysis of the environment including pH, and flame testing

Flame colours (Demo) - using atomiser bottles to carry out flame tests (can be done as a class experiment)

pH of the Planet  - A simple experiment using two indicators with overlapping ranges to determine the pH of environmental water samples.


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