Classroom Catalyst

Introduction:

Upon becoming a parent, I read the book “Slow Death By Rubber Ducky: How the Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Life Affects Our Health” which outlined the dangers that exist with chemicals in our personal products, food and toys.  Many of the case studies and chemicals that were outlined in this book described chemicals that are not good for the environment or our bodies.  It made me think twice about using certain products on small children and so I began a journey into making my own products from laundry soap to sunscreen.  As my children have grown, their interests in personal care products have lead me to expand my wheelhouse so that I can keep up with current trends and include products such as lip balms and bath products.  As such, I decided to experiment with bath bombs.

As a teacher, I started to expand my curriculum into including autonomous projects for students such as “Genius Hour” where students select a topic that relates to science and spends one hour of class time per week developing this project until the end of the semester.  One of my students chose to research bath bombs for her Genius Hour.  As I watched her presentation, I realized this was the perfect way to blend my interests in knowing the ingredients that go into your personal care products with teaching and developing inquiry skills in the classroom.

Curriculum expectations:

SNC2D:

C1. analyse a variety of safety and environmental issues associated with chemical reactions, including the ways in which chemical reactions can be applied to address environmental challenges;
C2. investigate, through inquiry, the characteristics of chemical reactions;
C3. demonstrate an understanding of the general principles of chemical reactions, and various ways to represent them.

  SNC2P:

C1. analyse how chemical reactions are employed in common products and processes, and assess the safety and environmental hazards associated with them;
C2. investigate, through inquiry, the characteristics of simple chemical reactions;
C3. demonstrate an understanding of simple chemical reactions and the language and ways to represent them.

 

**Please Note:  We did the Bath Bomb project as a focus for our chemistry unit.  We discussed elements and compounds, ionic and covalent bonds, and types of reactions all within our unit but used the Bath Bomb project as an example to refer back to as the unit progressed.  Some information below may not indicate our full teaching of the unit but rather just the information that was relevant to our bath bomb project. **

 

Project Plan

  1.  Class Discussion: Is it important to consider the ingredients in our personal care products?
  2.  Video: https://storyofstuff.org/movies/story-of-cosmetics/
    1. Question sheet to complete and discuss

           Video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxO3bPNyWzo

  1.  Discussion on Bias in science (Claims vs. Evidence)

Online Article Review/Discussion:  Find online articles that relate to the ingredients of personal care products.  Suggested place to start would be talcum powder and the cases that are in the news. 

  1.  Physical Properties Review Sheet
    1. Students review from grade 9 chemistry the physical properties of some of the ingredients that are found in bath bombs (set up as an unknown powder lab)
    2. Included are MSDS for reference which students will use to learn about the safety of the chemicals used when working with bath bombs
  2. Lab Demonstration
    1. Signs of chemical change (many different demonstrations can be done to discuss the signs of chemical change depending on materials in your lab space)
  3. Types of Reactions
    1. We discussed the chemical reaction for a bath bomb and which category it would fall into (continued with bell work)
  4. Project Plan
    1. With a partner brainstorming and experimental design
    2. Once experimental design was complete, students can use the materials to assemble their bath bomb.

Notes:  Due to lack of molds at the time, we used ice cube trays to make our bath bombs. Ice cube trays were stored at room temperature over the weekend to dry out and take shape prior to testing.  Scales were available for students to weigh their ingredients to keep sizes of test subjects as similar as possible.   Care needs to be taken when removing bath bombs from the ice cube trays so they do not break.

  1.  Test Day
    1. Students will take measurements and details about their bath bombs prior to testing
    2. When ready, let the fizz begin!
  2. Lab Report
    1. Students prepare lab report for evaluation

Thoughts for next time:  we discovered that using plastic circular Christmas tree ornaments that have been cut in half can be used to create bath bombs (careful of the size or you will need a LOT of materials).  Also, I will consider using sugar free Kool-Aid in the future to add scent to the bath bomb to engage the students further and allow them to create more unique designs. 

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