Chemistry classes teach abstract ideas about atoms and molecules. These ideas are often difficult to apply to everyday life. It can be hard to see how what you learn in Chemistry is in any way relevant to your life. The fact is that Chemistry is all around you and understanding it can enrich your daily experience immensely. From food and cooking, to cleaning, to the clothes you wear and the medicines you use to keep you healthy Chemistry is involved in literally every part of your life.
Also for this activity go to the PhET site and download and run the Microwaves simulation. You can find it here: http://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/microwaves. Answer the following questions by playing with the simulator as a part of your report:
Use the “One Molecule” tab to find out how microwave radiation (an electromagnetic wave with a wavelength longer than infrared but shorter than radio waves) affects the motion of a single molecule of water. Describe what happens to the molecule when the microwave turns on.
Use the “Single Line of Molecules” tab to find out how microwave radiation heats up water. When molecules speed up we measure that as an increase in temperature. Just how does the microwave radiation heat up the water molecules? (Hint: Does one molecule get hotter when you microwave it?)
Molecules other than water also can begin to rotate faster when microwave radiation passes through them. Soap molecules are among those that do this. Other molecules, such as those that make up the air, are not affected by microwaves. How does microwaving the soap heat up the air bubbles inside it when the air itself cannot be heated with microwaves?
Limit the experiment you do to the one described on the
hand-out or web site unless you discuss your plans in detail with your teacher
Experiments may be extended but if the extensions may involve
additional safety risks they must be pre-approved by your
teacher. You are encouraged to extend the experiments.
Above all: safety first. Follow proper safety procedures at all
times. If you need safety glasses you may sign out a pair from the
Type a one-page paper which answers the following questions in a numbered-response format. Write no more than one solid paragraph in response to each one. You will be graded based on how clearly you demonstrated significant care in carrying out the experiment and how deeply you have thought about what it means.
Describe what you did step by step.
Either in school or at home, have you ever observed anything like this experiment before? If so, describe the similarities and differences.
What were you supposed to learn about by doing this experiment? What did the authors of the activity intend you to learn?
In your chemistry class you often talk about physical and chemical changes by considering both the macroscopic event (that you see with your eyes) and the molecular-level events that explain it. Think about this experiment on the molecular level and explain what you observed by discussing events that were happening to the atoms and molecules involved. Do some research in the library and/or on the Web to inform your answer to this question.
Add one or more photos of your work.
Add an original illustration (not an image found on the internet) of what is happening at the molecular level which explains what you observe in the experiment. Use your imagination, so some research, and do not be concerned too much about being 100% accurate. Cartoonish drawings are acceptable--try to do them in the style of the Modeling the Molecular Level activity you did in class.
How well did this experiment work? Is there anything that should be added to the author’s instructions that would make it work better?
What made this experiment fun? Of if you didn’t enjoy it, why not?
A Bibliography is required. Further research will be required for you to fully understand and explain the phenomena you explore in your experiment. Record your sources in standard format.
A Few Tips
You may work on the actual experiment with one or at most two classmates. Each individual student must still write his or her own, independent report!
Be sure to do additional research in your textbook and on the Web to
get a good understanding of the science behind your experiment(s).
Remember, deeper understanding requires thought. You do not learn
anything if you do not Figure It
Be creative. Think beyond the experiment to what it might tell
you about how the world works. Make this an opportunity to learn
something just for the fun of learning it.
If you like the experiment then share it with someone else like a friend or sibling or parent.
Do the experiment again and see if you can improve it or make it work better.
If you would like to make your illustration using your computer then a free program specifically designed for use in making chemical illustrations is available. It is called ChemSketch and it is from ACD Labs. Find it here: http://www.acdlabs.com/resources/freeware/chemsketch/
Here are the projects we are doing during the 2012 - 2013 school year:
Note for teachers: After students do the experiment at home and write their reports, do the experiment in class and discuss it with them. A good time to do this may be on the due date of the report. This gives you a chance to hear from students verbally about how it went and to discuss what it was you wanted them to learn from it.