Landmark Lesson Plan: Development of Baking Powder

Grades: 9-12
Subject Areas: Chemistry and History

The following inquiry-based student activities are designed for use in high school lesson planning. The handout, video and activities will help students understand the chemistry and gain insight into the history featured in the development of baking powder.

The activities are designed as a ready-to-go lesson, easily implemented by a teacher or his/her substitute to supplement a unit of study. In chemistry, the activities relate to nomenclature, formula writing, reactions and organic functional groups. In history, the theme is the interdependence of scientific development and industrialization.

Download the complete lesson plan (PDF).

Resources include:

  • Teacher’s guide: Introduction, instructions, conversation starters and answer key
  • Handout: “Development of Baking Powder” reading resource
  • Reference materials: Map, names and charges of selected common ions, and selected molecules
  • Video supplement: The History of Bread (an ACS National Historic Chemical Landmarks/Untamed Science video)
  • Student activities: Includes the five activities described below

Student activities:

While these activities are thematically linked, each is designed to stand alone as an accompaniment for the handout and video. Teachers may choose activities based on curricular needs and time considerations.

  • Mapping Activity: Where in the World Did Baking Powder Develop? Students identify the spread of ideas about chemistry in the 1800s and contextualize the global nature of the chemical industry. (20-30 min.)
  • Practice in Chemistry: Ready, Set, Rise! Students identify chemical substances, name common ions and molecules; write balanced formulas, and interpret the chemical reaction in baking powder. (30-40 min.)
  • Flow Chart Activity: Why Develop Baking Powder? Students identify the steps Horsford took to research, invent and market baking powder by completing a flow chart. (15-20 min.)
  • Using Venn Diagrams: Comparing Inventions in Food Chemistry Students compare advances in chemistry using the development of Horsford’s baking powder, Liebig’s beef extract and Ikeda’s MSG. (15-20 min.)
  • Exploring Acid Structures: Vinegar, Sour Milk and MSG Students examine structures of acetic acid, lactic acid and monosodium glutamate, and search for similarities and differences. (10-15 min.)