October 2020

Free Articles


How Sticky Innovations Changed the World

By Carl E. Heltzel

Tapes and glues are everywhere, making it easy to take them for granted. But take a quick look at their long, influential history, and you might gain a new appreciation for everyday adhesives!


Can Copper Save Us from the Coronavirus?

By Michael Tinnesand

A recent claim is that a familiar metal, copper, could help us beat back the COVID-19 pandemic. There is already some basic science to suggest that it might help in some ways. Copper has natural antibacterial and antiviral properties, which seem to come from copper’s ability to conduct electricity.


A Different Way of Seeing

By Carl E. Heltzel

In Petaluma, California, where Hoby Wedler went to high school, a teacher once told him that his blindness would make it exceedingly difficult for him to study lab chemistry. But Wedler has frequently chosen not to take the easy route. Undeterred, Wedler took high school chemistry, then went on to earn college degrees in history and chemistry.

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fish in water full of plastic

The Search for Hidden Plastics

By XioZhi Lim

Millions of tons of plastic enter the oceans every year, but only some ends up floating on the surface. Researchers are on a mission to find out where the rest of the plastic has gone and what risks it might pose.

Teacher's Guide (DOC)    Hidden Plastics Puzzle (PDF)

northern lights aurora

Lighting Up the Night Sky

By Jeffrey Deakin

For millennia, the ghostly, breathtaking northern lights have awed those who have seen them. Find out what causes the lights, where you might catch a glimpse of them, and how studying these auroras can help protect us.

Teacher's Guide (DOC)

hands pumping sanitizer

What is Hand Sanitizer, and Does It Keep Your Hands Germ-Free?

By Laura Howes/Chemical & Engineering News

Hand sanitizer has become an essential tool in the fight against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. But not all hand sanitizers are the same. Make sure you know which ones to buy—and what’s a better alternative.

Teacher's Guide (PDF)

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