Home School Life Journal

Home School Life Journal ................................................................................................................painting by Katie Bergenholtz

What Do Your Students Need to Know Before High School: Chemistry

You can use any of a variety of science curriculum, or you can just do explorations and experiments that interest your students, but usually at some point homeschool teachers wonder if they have done enough. This often happens as you begin to think about the transition into high school. So, what do students need to know before they begin high school level chemistry?
Most chemistry begins in the younger grades with students learning about states of matter.
What is it?
You may do activities to encourage making inferences from what information they can gather from their senses.
Swirling Colors: Exercises in Dissolving
Then you might move on to learning about the qualities of substances, 
Involving Dissolving
such as their ability to dissolve,
Separating a Mixture
Then you might look at giving them challenges such as how to unmix a group of substances together, making them use what they have learned about the qualities of these substances.
Chemistry: Making Things Un-Mix: Chromotography
which might lead to chromotography.
Then you can begin to look at the different changes by putting them into the two categories of physical and chemical changes...
or looking at substances as either acid or bases (or neurtal).

The Sizes of Molecules

All of this is preparation for learning about why these things happen,

Cross-linking Polymers
 and so they learn about substances from a molecular level.
Building Molecules
The last piece is that they learn that the molecule has different parts and that some parts have a negative charge, some a positive charge and others a neutral charge.
Ionic and Covalent Bonding
This all prepares them for their high school work in chemistry when their math catches up and they can solve chemical equations. Along with this, they will learn about chemical bonding and concepts such as Laws of Gases (Boyle's or Charles or Gay-Lussac's).

Oh, and the results of our experiment from last week?
One week after we put our apple slices in various substances to see which one would dry them out the best, we look at the apple slices.
 First we looked at our control slice. It was dry, but had black mold on it.
Epsom Salt
The Epsom Salt slice was still quite wet and the Epsom Salt around the slice was very wet...

Table Salt
 ...as was the Table Salt slice.
Baking Soda
 The slice with the Baking Soda was also wet and it had black mold. The Baking Soda was wet, too.
Table Salt and Baking Soda
 The slice with the combination of Table Salt and Baking Soda was in a much more preserved, dry state...
Epsom Salt and Baking Soda
but the winner voted for the best preserved was the Epsom Salt and Baking Soda combination.

We decided that since we were comparing the preservation of these apple slices so as to learn something about how the Ancient Egyptians preserved their mummies with Natron, we would change our cups for fresh substances each week, taking away the substances that had leeched away the moisture and was holding it for a fresh batch. Would this in the long run change the results of what preserved the best or would they stay in the same ranking? We shall see what happens next week.


  1. We did the starch experiment this week for our nutrition studies (you just made linking back to you so much easier, because I don't have to search for it).

    You made my heart easier as you went through all of these nice little building steps.

  2. This is wonderful how you put the skills in order. I don't think we got past states of matter. I need to do more science this year! Thank you for sharing.

    1. Don't forget that you have a few years before you hit high school. Take you time and enjoy the route there.

  3. I agree, you have made it so clear how these skills build on one another. Thank you for sharing the benefit of your experience of having homeschooled all the way through.

    I've always known that while my children are young I want to nurture their curiosity about the world around them and give them opportunities to have fun playing with science. As you say, there's plenty of time later on for understanding scientific concepts on a more abstract level.

  4. Love this Phyllis! Still lots of fun science experiments ahead of us before high school. This is a great list of examples. The pictures are awesome, Thank you for sharing!


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