Landmark Lesson Plans

High School Lesson Plans Based on ACS National Historic Chemical Landmark Subjects

The following inquiry-based student activities are designed for use in high school chemistry and history lesson planning. Based on material from the ACS National Historic Chemical Landmarks program, the lessons, reading materials, videos and student activities are designed as ready-to-go lessons, easily implemented by a chemistry teacher or his/her substitute, to supplement a unit of study.

Norbert Rillieux, Thermodynamics and Chemical Engineering

Grades: 9-12
Subject Areas: Chemistry, Engineering, Thermodynamics and History

The handout and activities will help students understand the chemical engineering advances of Norbert Rillieux (1806-1894). Rillieux, an African American inventor and one of the earliest chemical engineers, had a major impact on how sugar was produced on Southern plantations during the time of slavery. The basic design of his multiple-effect evaporator is still being used today.

In chemistry, the activities relate to engineering practices and thermodynamics. In history, the themes are the Industrial Revolution, the status of African Americans during slavery and the American Civil War.

Portrait of Norbert Rillieux (undated).

Man and Materials Through History

Grades: 9-12
Subject Areas: Chemistry, Materials Science, Polymers and History

The handout, video and activities will help students gain insight into the connection between materials science and cultural and technological developments, specifically relating to the development of the world's first synthetic plastic, Bakelite.

In chemistry, the activities relate to the definition of polymers and polymerization reactions. In history, the themes are the periods of human history and the chronology of technological and materials science developments.

Buttons made from Bakelite.
Courtesy Gregory Tobias/Chemical Heritage Foundation.

Development of Baking Powder

Grades: 9-12
Subject Areas: Chemistry and History

The video and handout will help students understand the chemistry and gain insight into the history featured in the development of baking powder.

In chemistry, the activities relate to nomenclature, formula writing, reactions and organic functional groups; in history, the theme is the interdependence of science and industrialization.

Portrait of Eben Horsford (undated).

Discovery of Fullerenes

Grades: 9-12
Subject Area: Chemistry and Nanotechnology

The video and handout will help students understand the chemistry of fullerenes and to appreciate the events that led to their discovery.

In chemistry, the activities relate to measurement, diatomic molecules and allotropes, nanoparticles, the relationship of molecular structure to properties of substances, and scientific discovery through collaboration and serendipity.

Buckminsterfullerene model.

Joseph Priestley, Discoverer of Oxygen

Grades: 9-12
Subject Area: Chemistry and History

The handout will help students understand the historical context and how chemistry was practiced during Joseph Priestley’s time (1733-1804).

In chemistry, the activities relate to identifying physical and chemical properties, nomenclature, and the scientific process. In history, the activities relate to chronology of scientific discoveries and the relationships between England, France and America in the late 1700s.

Portrait of Joseph Priestley, 1873.