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Chemistry on a Budget contains several labs that are great for the beginning of the school year! Topics used include Significant Figures, Density (2 labs) and Physical Separation techniques such as filtration and chromatography.
There are two versions of each lab, one with a ten-question conclusion and one with directions for a full lab report. This way the teacher has the option! Each lab is two pages to allow for one two-sided handout.
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*Some of you have purchased my lab book – be sure to check out Page 141 !
Many teachers have their students learn basic chemical symbols to get prepared for working with The Periodic Table, writing formulae and chemical reactions.
Basic facts about elements, their physical and chemical properties and the symbols, are the beginning of establishing the knowledge of Chemistry, which has a great history. I know that it is very time consuming to research the elements and their histories, especially in the beginning years of teaching.
One idea for an assignment is to have each student contribute one cited fact (or up to 5) to the class about the element Mercury (Hg, atomic number 80, average isotopic mass of 200.59 amu).
You could have groups of 3-4 students pool their facts and come up with their top five facts, then perhaps have the groups share their results on the class board (or an overhead projector) to see who had the “best” list. Points could be awarded for each fact, but double points for unique facts (those not on other lists). This is to increase the challenge, and to lower the chance of “quick sharing of facts” before class.
Maybe the “Best List” group members get some sort of Extra Credit, a sticker, a small prize, or just the title of “Mercury Master” -- whatever the teacher chooses.
**By the way, this could be done for any element!
I realize that you don’t have much class time for this endeavor, so here’s some background to expand your knowledge.
Here is a site that contains a great deal of information about mercury:
This site includes the following facts:
Mercury's chemical symbol comes from the Greek word hydrargyrum, which means "liquid silver."
Mercury is not usually found free in nature and is primarily obtained from the mineral cinnabar (HgS).
Here is another site with the history of mercury:
Notice the spectrum at the top of the page, and there is an oral description at the right of the page.
Here is another page providing a great deal of information about mercury:
Listed at this website under History:
Cinnabar (aka vermilion, mercury sulfide, HgS), was used as a bright red pigment by the Palaeolithic painters of 30,000 years ago to decorate caves in Spain and France. Cinnabar would yield up its mercury simply on heating in a crucible, and the metal fascinated people because it was a liquid that would dissolve gold. The ancients used in on a large scale to extract alluvial gold from the sediment of rivers. The mercury dissolved the gold which could be reclaimed by distilling off the mercury.
The Almadén deposit in Spain provided Europe with its mercury. In the Americas, it was the Spanish conquerors who exploited the large deposits of cinnabar at Huancavelica in order to extract gold. In 1848 the miners of the Californian Gold Rush used mercury from the New Almaden Mines of California.
Although highly toxic, mercury had many uses, as in thermometers, but these are now strictly curtained.
Here is another description of the history of Mercury and its uses:
This includes this description:
Aristotle is credited with the oldest known written record of mercury (in an academic text dating back to sometime during the 4th century BCE), in which he referred to it as “fluid silver” and “quicksilver.” This academic text conveyed what alchemists of his day believed: that mercury was the component in all metals that gave them their “metal-ness.” At that time, it was used in ceremonies and to treat skin disorders. In India and China, it was used as an aphrodisiac and for medical therapy circa 500 BCE. Chinese woman are reported to have consumed mercury as a contraceptive 4,000 years ago. Cinnabar is still used as a sedative in traditional Chinese medicine.
The fascination with this liquid metal led to many handling it not knowing its toxicity. Here’s one report about the health effects of mercury exposure:
This statement by the World Health Organization (WHO):
contains a list of physical symptoms due to mercury exposure:
Neurological and behavioural disorders may be observed after inhalation, ingestion or dermal exposure of different mercury compounds. Symptoms include tremors, insomnia, memory loss, neuromuscular effects, headaches and cognitive and motor dysfunction. Mild, subclinical signs of central nervous system toxicity can be seen in workers exposed to an elemental mercury level in the air of 20 μg/m3 or more for several years. Kidney effects have been reported, ranging from increased protein in the urine to kidney failure.
Mercury compounds were used in the manufacture of hats leading to mercury exposure and the phrase “mad as a hatter” entered the English language: http://www.naturalnews.com/016544_mercury_heavy_metals.html
As described here:
A mercury solution was commonly used during the process of turning fur into felt, which caused the hatters to breathe in the fumes of this highly toxic metal, a situation exacerbated by the poor ventilation in most of the workshops. This led in turn to an accumulation of mercury in the workers' bodies, resulting in symptoms such as trembling (known as "hatters' shakes"), loss of coordination, slurred speech, loosening of teeth, memory loss, depression, irritability and anxiety -- "The Mad Hatter Syndrome." The phrase is still used today to describe the effects of mercury poisoning, albeit from other sources.
*This Blog contains several entries that would be helpful to your Chemistry classroom. Remember, you can check out the Topic List to help you to find past Blog entries.
The lab book Chemistry on a Budget is very useful to your Chemistry classroom with labs and class article ideas.
Also, Write To Me about your successes, challenges, or questions in the Chemistry Classroom.
Congratulations on a successful start to a new school year!