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The Most Valued Teammate of Every Science Educator
The Most Valued Teammate of Every Science Educator


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Check out this lesson on the human heart and heart health. What a great way to bring awareness to Heart Health Month.
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Check out our new video on dwarf frogs.
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Check out these amazing videos for your classroom!
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Here is an awesome resource to connect what you teach in the classroom with current events and literacy.
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Introduce your students to either a unit on volcanos or chemistry

For this activity you will need:
-Hydrogen Peroxide, active dry yeast, tablespoon, measuring cup, tapem scissors, poster board, small glass and a spoon

1.) Cut a strip of poster board from the big sheet
2.) Roll the strip into a cone shape and tape to secure
3.) Cut the bottom of the cone, so it will sit flat on a table
4.) Measure 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide
5.) Place your small glass on a table (you can put the glass on top of a garbage bag to prevent a big mess)
6.) Put the hydrogen peroxide in the glass
7.) Put your cone over the glass
8.) Measure 1/2 tablespoon of yeast and ads to they hydrogen peroxide
9.) Stir
10.) Stand back!
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Teacher Tip:
Easily Identifying Students Who Need Help in Lab

Recognizing when different groups in your lab need assistance is not always obvious. To remedy that, I place a tabletop support stand, 1 medium-size paper clamp, and 3 pieces of paper (red, yellow, and green) at each workstation. During the lab, each group clips a piece of paper to the support stand to indicate the group’s status. Red indicates that the group needs help immediately, yellow that the group needs help soon or has a question, and green that the group is doing great. This method makes it easy to see which group needs help, without students having to hold up their hands or getting your attention in other ways.

Submitted by:
Daneice Foster
Tuttle High School
Tuttle, OK
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Here's a cool Teacher Tip to help you save a little time in your labs.

Clean Your Glassware with Rice
Submitted by Heather Reddig
Pasco-Hernando Community College, Brooksville, FL

Here’s a way to clean those hard-to-reach spots in glassware. Add a little dry rice to some soapy water and pour it into the glassware. Agitate the glassware by hand, and the rice and soapy water will scour the inside clean. This works well for volumetric flasks, aquarium filters, narrow-necked bottles, and other glassware.

To submit your own tip, visit
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Smallest rotary motor in biology, the ATP synthase. All the work done in your body is fueled by breaking a chemical bond in ATP, the “currency of energy”. Did you know that you consume your body weight (or an estimated 50 kg) of ATP per day?!

Where does this ATP come from? It is synthesized by an incredibly sophisticated molecular machine, the ATP synthase, embedded in the inner membrane of our mitochondria. Energy from the oxidation of food results in protons being pumped across the membrane to create a proton gradient. The protons drive the rotation of a circular ring of proteins in the membrane that in turn move a central shaft. The shaft interacts sequentially with one of 3 catalytic sites within a hexamer, making ATP (little butterflies in the movie!). The ATP synthase rotates about 150 times/second

To visualize the rotation under a microscope, a very long fluorescent rod (actin filament) was chemically attached to the central shaft. Watch real movies (not animations!) of the enzyme spinning here:

Notice the rotation is slower with longer rods. The rotor produces a torque of 40 pN nm (40 pico Newtons x nanometer), irrespective of the load. This would be the force you would need to rotate a 500 m long rod while standing at the bottom of a large swimming pool at the rate shown in the movie.

How did this amazing rotor evolve? The hexameric structure is related to DNA helicases that rotate along the DNA double helix, using ATP to unzip the two strands apart. The H+ motor has precedence in flagella motors that use proton gradients to drive rotation of long filaments, allowing bacteria to tumble through their surroundings. At some point, a H+ driven motor came together with a helicase like hexamer to create a rotor driving the hexamer in reverse, to synthesize ATP.

The 1997 Nobel prize in Chemistry was awarded to John Walker and Paul Boyer for solving the structure and cyclical mechanism of the ATP synthase, respectively. This amazing enzyme was also the subject of my own Ph.D. thesis, and my first love!

For #ScienceSunday curated by +Allison Sekuler and +Robby Bowles .
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Balancing Equations with Gumdrops via

Balancing equations is one of the toughest and most important aspects of teaching chemistry. Students struggle and teachers often have a hard time explaining the process. This activity uses gumdrops, plastic bags and toothpicks to help students understand the basics behind balancing equations. A little candy and some tactile learning can go a long way!

If you have any activities for balancing equations, we’d love to hear them.

Activity by Shuana Jordan

National Science Education Standards
This activity is appropriate for high school students and addresses the following National Science Education Standards for grades 9–12:

Materials (per pair of students)Physical Science: Structure and Properties of Matter; Chemical Reactions

60 Gumdrops (5 different colors)
Small Plastic Bags
Preparation and procedure

For each pair of students, place gumdrops (12 of each color) in a small plastic bag. Each student pair also needs the toothpicks. You may either hand those out or just make several boxes available during the activity.

Divide your class into pairs and distribute the materials.

Give an overview of the activity—explaining that the pairs are to construct molecular models using the gumdrops and toothpicks. They are to model chemical reactions, assigning a color of gumdrop to a specific element. Still using their models, they balance each reaction. Then they record their final data before moving to the next reaction.

__N2 + __H2 → __NH3

Element Symbol
and Gumdrop Color Reactant Side
(final number) Product Side
(final number)

Color: ____________

Color: ____________

Figure 1 Example data table.

Following are some simple reactions that you can assign to get the pairs started. You may pass out paper copies or project the reactions on your whiteboard.

__N2 + __H2 → __NH3

__Fe + __HCl → __H2 + __FeCl3

__CH4 + __O2 → __CO2 + __H2O

__K + H2O → __KOH + __H2

__HCl + NaOH → __NaCl + __H2O

__FeS + HCl → __H2S + FeCl2

__C2H4 + __O2 → __CO2 + __H2O

Have students build models of the reactants and products, using the gumdrops and toothpicks for each equation. The gumdrops represent the atoms, and the toothpicks, the bonds. For the purpose of this balancing exercise, it is not important that students model correct bond angles; numbers and types of atoms are the important things.

Have students lay their models out and group them so that they know which models represent the reactants and which represent the products. It may be helpful to have students crease a sheet of notebook paper in half and label the left side “reactants” and the right side “products.”

Once the molecules are built and the reaction is laid out, let students know that in order to balance the reactions they must add complete molecules—not individual gumdrops. Reinforce the difference between a coefficient and a subscript. The coefficient is the number in front of the chemical formula in a chemical equation, indicating the number of molecules. (Absence of a coefficient is understood to indicate 1 molecule.) A subscript indicates how many atoms of an element are in each molecule of a compound. Students should understand that once they build a molecular model, the defined subscripts are unchangeable. Only the coefficients may change in balancing the chemical equation.

Have students count the number of atoms of each element present on the reactant side and compare it with the number of atoms of that element on the product side.
If those numbers are unequal, students must build additional molecules until the numbers match. Then, the number of models of each compound on each side provides the coefficients needed to balance the equation. Have students place the coefficients in the equation and record the final total of each type of atom on the product and reactant side.

Here are the coefficients that balance the equations above:

N2 + 3H2 → 2NH3

2Fe + 6HCl → 3H2 + 2FeCl3

CH4 + 2O2 → CO2 + 2H2O

2K + 2H2O → 2KOH + H2

HCl + NaOH → NaCl + H2O

FeS + 2HCl → H2S + FeCl2

C2H4 + 3O2 → 2CO2 + 2H2O

Conclusion and extension

This straightforward activity should clear up any confusion that some students may still have between coefficients and subscripts in chemical equations.
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