How to teach your child about chemistry

Involving kids in science at home

Chil­dren of­ten have prob­lems study­ing chem­istry at school, right from the be­gin­ning. At best, chil­dren sim­ply do what they are told, but with­out show­ing any in­ter­est in the process. The prob­lem aris­es be­cause of­ten the child sim­ply does not un­der­stand the point of it all. This ar­ti­cle sug­gests a sim­ple way to in­spire chil­dren to take an in­ter­est in this sci­ence from an ear­ly age.

Learn­ing about chem­istry

To en­sure that your child has no prob­lems study­ing chem­istry at school, it’s best to teach them about this in­ter­est­ing sci­ence right now, not when they are al­ready at school. We rec­om­mend the fol­low­ing:

  • lessons in spe­cial­ized groups;
  • watch­ing pro­grams which pro­vide de­tailed ex­pla­na­tions of how cer­tain sub­stances form. They are in­ter­est­ing be­cause chil­dren them­selves par­tic­i­pate in mak­ing the sub­stances. Tak­ing the au­di­ence into ac­count, sim­ple but ef­fec­tive ex­per­i­ments are cho­sen (sparks fly, sub­stances change col­or and go bang);
  • teach the child about sci­ence at home. At first glance, it seems dif­fi­cult to make a home ex­per­i­ment cen­ter.
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You don’t need to be a chem­istry teach­er – all you need is en­thu­si­asm and the abil­i­ty to or­ga­nize the process cor­rect­ly. Chil­dren will find it more in­ter­est­ing to do ev­ery­thing them­selves with their par­ents than to sim­ply watch the process tak­ing place on tele­vi­sion.

An in­ter­est­ing home ex­per­i­ment

You can show an in­ter­est­ing ex­per­i­ment at home. Click here to find in­ter­est­ing ideas of ex­per­i­ments that will amaze your child. Ev­ery par­ent can pre­pare a saline so­lu­tion with vine­gar in the home, and the re­sult­ing ef­fect will amaze chil­dren and show them how knowl­edge of chem­istry is used in ev­ery­day life.

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You can also show the im­por­tance of chem­istry by dis­cussing great dis­cov­er­ies made by fa­mous chemists. You should em­pha­size dis­cov­er­ies that mean some­thing to chil­dren: -medicine that may be re­quired for treat­ing colds;

  • the in­ven­tion of rub­ber and plas­tic which is used for chil­dren’s toys;
  • felt-tip pins that change col­or. There are many pens which can change col­or un­der the ef­fect of spe­cial sub­stances. This ef­fect also takes place as a re­sult of chem­i­cal pro­cess­es.

What you will need

To en­sure that par­ents’ as­sis­tance has the nec­es­sary re­sult, you should pre­pare be­fore­hand for lessons with the child:

  • study the con­tent of the ex­per­i­ment your­self;
  • be ready for ques­tions about what hap­pens and why – you should know the an­swers to com­mon ques­tions;
  • find out how things work be­fore­hand.

Req­ui­sites and agents

You will also need to pre­pare items that will be re­quired dur­ing the process. As we only plan to make el­e­men­tary prod­ucts of re­ac­tions to start with, the fol­low­ing will be suf­fi­cient: -gloves, res­pi­ra­tor; -soda, vine­gar, cook­ing salt; -chem­i­cal ves­sel; -in­di­ca­tor pa­per (it’s best to buy dif­fer­ent kinds); -pa­per cone; -cop­per sul­fate; -al­ka­lis, acids (these are not al­ways avail­able in or­di­nary shops, and so if you can­not find pro­fes­sion­al req­ui­sites, then choose ex­per­i­ments that use acetic or lemon acid – they are usu­al­ly easy to find).

You should also or­ga­nize the work place. The kitchen ta­ble is suit­able. The main thing is to make sure that there is noth­ing near­by which could in­ter­fere in the ex­per­i­ment

Be­gin­ners’ ex­per­i­ments

To be­gin with, choose a list of sim­ple ex­per­i­ments. They will be suf­fi­cient to make an im­pres­sion. It is very im­por­tant to ask the child for help at this time (add the right agent, sup­ply items, watch what is hap­pen­ing). The child will prob­a­bly ask why some­thing hap­pens the way it does – it’s best to pre­pare a sim­ple and un­der­stand­able an­swer be­fore­hand. You shouldn’t over­whelm the child with com­pli­cat­ed ex­pla­na­tions and terms.

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Dur­ing the ex­per­i­ment, ex­plain to the child what you need­ed, what you had to add, and what the re­sult­ing prod­uct should be. If a sub­stance turns into gas or catch­es fire, then you don’t need to warn the child about this – it will be a sur­prise, and be even more im­pres­sive. We’ll look at some sim­ple ex­am­ples of how to sur­prise a child in the home.

Ex­am­ple 1

Put 1 spoon­ful of soda into a glass, and grad­u­al­ly add 2 spoon­fuls of vine­gar. The re­ac­tion be­tween them caus­es gas to form – the mix­ture starts to hiss. If you take a nar­row glass and put a pa­per cone on it, you can get an in­ter­est­ing ef­fect. If you pour the vine­gar quick­ly, the sub­stance will trans­form quick­ly (move to a gaseous state), and the pa­per cone will sim­ply fly into the air.

Ex­am­ple 2

Place a piece of iron in a chem­i­cal ves­sel, and pour di­lut­ed acid on it – bub­bles will ap­pear. If you place the iron in an al­ka­line so­lu­tion, it will soon start to rust. You will have to wait for this to hap­pen. Make sure that the iron has not been treat­ed be­fore­hand (pro­tect­ed against rust), or the ex­per­i­ment will not work.

Ex­am­ple 3

Pour al­ka­li into one beaker, and acid into an­oth­er. Low­er lit­mus pa­pers into the beakers. The pa­per in the al­ka­li will turn blue, and the one in the acid will turn red. Re­peat the ex­pe­ri­ence with dif­fer­ent acids and al­ka­lis.