ACS Introduces Middle School Chemistry Curriculum | February 28, 2011 Issue - Vol. 89 Issue 9 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 89 Issue 9 | p. 57
Issue Date: February 28, 2011

ACS Introduces Middle School Chemistry Curriculum

Department: ACS News
Keywords: ACS News, Chemistry Curriculum
From left: Adam Boyd, Galvan, and Kessler.
Credit: Linda Wang/C&EN
From left: Adam Boyd, Galvan, and Kessler.
Credit: Linda Wang/C&EN

The Office of K–8 Science in the American Chemical Society’s Education Division has developed a free online middle school chemistry unit that is available to teachers at The curriculum offers fully developed lesson plans to teach chemistry concepts at the middle school level.

The six chapters of the curriculum cover “Matter—Solids, Liquids & Gases,” “Changes of State,” “Density,” “The Periodic Table & Bonding,” “The Water Molecule & Dissolving,” and “Chemical Change.” Students explore these topics through hands-on experiences and teacher demonstrations. The teacher then uses molecular illustrations and animations to help students understand what is happening at the molecular level.

Using the concepts of inquiry-based learning, the new middle school curriculum helps teachers guide their students to ask scientific questions, design and conduct experiments, understand their observations on the molecular level, and record and communicate their results.

Manager James H. Kessler says the Office of K–8 Science developed the curriculum in response to the National Academy of Sciences’ newly drafted national science education standards, which encourage teachers, even at the middle school level, to explain phenomena based on atoms and molecules.

“A lot of teachers feel very nervous and ill-prepared to teach concepts in middle school chemistry because they’re starting to get into some difficult, more abstract material,” Kessler says. “We include in the curriculum a lot of explanatory information to help teachers understand the concepts themselves.”

The curriculum is designed to be flexible. Any part of a lesson or an entire lesson can be used in conjunction with the curriculum the teacher is already using, or entirely on its own. “You could teach just these six chapters and your students will know what they need to know about chemistry at the middle school level,” says Patricia M. Galvan, education specialist in the Office of K–8 Science.

The unit expands the office’s educational offerings, which currently include the book “Inquiry in Action” for third through sixth grades and the companion website (, the Science for Kids website (, and “The Best of WonderScience” books.

The Office of K–8 Science is continuing to develop resources to support teachers. “It’s important for us to help all students learn fundamental chemistry concepts,” Galvan says, “and the best way to do that is by providing resources for their teachers.”

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