A full-year, NSF-funded chemistry curriculum that embraces the three-dimensional learning of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for ALL students.

Three-Dimensional, Project-Based Learning

  • Science and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas are seamlessly integrated.
  • Each chapter is anchored in an interesting and meaningful challenge.
  • Students use their new chemistry knowledge to creatively solve their Chapter Challenges.

Students Learn Like Scientists and Engineers

  • Students develop important 21st century skills as they work collaboratively in groups and engage in science discourse.
  • Students engage in the Engineering Design Cycle as they iteratively work towards completing the Chapter Challenge.
  • The program is based on cognitive science research encapsulated in the 7E Instructional Model.

Total Support for Teachers

  • Student Edition and a comprehensive Teacher’s Edition are available in print and digital formats.
  • Active Chemistry Learning Community provides teachers with resources to prepare lessons as well as share and compare with other teachers in an online community.
  • Online resources include daily lesson plans, pre-quizzes, student misconceptions, differentiation strategies, as well as videos that highlight the crucial chemistry for each section and videos that familiarize teachers with lab equipment and setup.


Active Chemistry® fosters scientifically literate students who will be prepared for the workforce, able to make informed decisions, and contribute as productive citizens in the 21st century.

Active Chemistry is research based.
Active Chemistry was supported through National Science Foundation funding and consequently produced through rigorous, iterative, research-based development cycles. It is based on the latest research from the cognitive sciences on how students learn.

Active Chemistry students develop communication and collaboration skills.
In Active Chemistry, students develop a community of practice and a culture of collaboration and communication. The presentations of the Chapter Challenges provide students with opportunities
 to engage in scientific arguments using evidence and science knowledge, and promote a deeper understanding through public practice.

Active Chemistry fits your standards.
Active Chemistry reflects the full scope of chemistry content standards for high school—those identified as the Disciplinary Core Ideas in A Framework for K-12 Science Education and those of individual states and districts.


Chapter 1: Movie Special Effects

Chapter Challenge: Students develop a movie scene that uses special effects which involve chemical concepts.

Through investigation, students identify compounds and elements and decompose water. They examine the states of matter and relate them to molecular motion. Then they observe the Tyndall effect and differentiate among solutions, suspensions, and colloids. Students measure the volume and mass of liquids and solids to develop an understanding of density. They use flame tests to identify metal cations. They also learn about organic materials and use the law of conservation of mass to balance combustion reactions.

Chemistry 2: How Can I Make New Stuff From Old Stuff?

Chapter Challenge: Students develop a game to learn about and use the periodic table.

Students study the physical and chemical properties of elements and use the information to categorize elements as metals and nonmetals. They then learn about atoms, atomic mass, the law of definite proportions, and they discover how the model of an atom has changed over time. Students observe the spectra of several elements and learn about ionization potentials. Next, the students learn about the noble gases and discover the octet rule. Finally, students examine how the average atomic mass of an element is determined, the factors that affect nuclear stability, and the difference between fission and fusion.

Chapter 3: Artist as Chemist

Chapter Challenge: Students create a work of art and describe the chemistry concepts used to produce the artwork.

Students investigate acids and bases and speculate on their impact on outdoor art. They determine the relative reactivity of different metals and observe the process of electroplating. To understand clay, students examine a hydrated compound and apply the mole concepts to determine the formula of a hydrate. They investigate the production of precipitates in doublereplacement reactions, apply this to the production of paints, and then observe the effect of pH on natural dyes. Finally, they use borax to observe how different compounds produce different colors in “glass."

Chapter 4: Chemical Dominoes

Chapter Challenge: Students create a prototype of a “chemical-dominoes sequence” that can be sold by a toy company.

Students investigate different ways to produce carbon dioxide to blow up a balloon. They discover that mass is conserved in a chemical reaction and learn how to balance chemical equations. They learn about stoichiometric calculations and calculate how much chemical they need to blow up a balloon. using magnesium as part of a circuit, students learn about the metalactivity series and redox reactions. They learn about the nature of light, phosphorescence, and ground and excited state of electrons. They build a conductivity tester and determine which solutions contain electrolytes. Students explore factors that affect reaction rates and learn how to determine whether changes are exothermic or endothermic. Finally, they use a rubber band to model enthalpy and entrophy.

Chapter 5: Ideal Toy

Chapter Challenge: Students create a toy that uses various chemical and/or gas principles.

Students use the metal-activity series to construct electrochemical cells and explore the nanoscopic concepts of redox reactions. They use models to connect the size and shape of a molecule to its properties. They learn about Boyle’s law by examining volume changes with pressure changes in a syringe and changes in buoyancy with pressure changes. They explore Charles’s law in the context of hot-air balloons and generate and test hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide. using the knowledge they have gained, students determine the volume of one mole of oxygen gas and calculate the gas-law constant. Then they learn about Graham’s law by observing the effusion of hydrogen and carbon dioxide.

Chapter 6: Cool Chemistry show

Chapter Challenge: Students develop a demonstration of chemistry concepts for a grade-school audience.

Students observe characteristics of a chemical reaction and use indicators to identify acids and bases. They examine single- and double-replacement reactions and practice writing chemical equations. Students observe endothermic and exothermic reactions and factors that affect reaction rates. They explore the properties of acids and bases and the activity of metals.

Chapter 7: Cookin’ Chem

Chapter Challenge: Students create a segment of a television cooking show that explains the chemistry behind the cooking.

Students distinguish between heat and temperature and identify examples of convection, conduction, and radiation. Observations of a candle lead to a discussion of the control of combustion reactions and how energy is stored in and released from fuels. Students collect and graph data to generate the cooling and heating curves of water. Next they explore specific heat and the principles of heat transfer. The structures of primary, secondary, and tertiary proteins are examined in the context of the denaturation of egg protein. Finally, to clean up, soap provides the means for examining organic molecules of increasing complexity.

Chapter 8: CSI Chemistry

Chapter Challenge: Students create a crime scene and prepare evidence that requires the use of at least three forensic chemistry techniques to solve the crime.

Students use density to identify a sample of glass and then experience chemiluminescence as they use luminol to test for blood. using a flowchart, they identify six white powders and use doublereplacement and an oxidation-reduction reaction to develop invisible fingerprints on paper. To identify a piece of metal left at the crime scene and to etch a serial number, students use the metal-activity series. Finally, they use paper chromatography to separate black ink and learn about separation methods of mixtures.


Arthur Eisenkraft

University of Massachusetts

Dr. Arthur Eisenkraft has taught high school physics for over 28 years. He is currently the Distinguished Professor of Science Education at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, where he is also a Professor of Physics and the Director of the Center of Science and Math In Context (COSMIC). Dr. Eisenkraft is the author of numerous science and educational publications and holds a patent for a Laser Vision Testing System, which tests visual acuity for spatial frequency.

In 1999, Dr. Eisenkraft was elected to a three-year cycle as the President-Elect, President, and Retiring President of the NSTA, the world’s largest organization of science teachers. He has served on numerous committees of the National Academy of Sciences, including the content committee that has helped author the National Science Education Standards, and in 2003 he was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Dr. Eisenkraft has been involved with a number of projects and chaired many notable competitions, including the Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVisions Awards (1991 to present), which he co-created; the Toyota TAPESTRY Grants (1990 to 2005); and the Duracell/NSTA Scholarship Competition (1984 to 2000). In 1993, he served as Executive Director for the XXIV International Physics Olympiad after being Academic Director for the United States Team for six years.

Dr. Eisenkraft is a frequent presenter and keynote speaker at national conventions. He has published over 100 articles and presented over 200 papers and workshops. Quantoons, written with L. Kirkpatrick and featuring illustrations by Tomas Bunk, led to an art exhibition at the New York Hall of Science.

Dr. Eisenkraft has been featured in articles in The New York Times, Education Week, Physics Today, Scientific American, The American Journal of Physics, and The Physics Teacher. He has testified before the United States Congress, appeared on NBC’s The Today Show, National Public Radio, and many other radio and television broadcasts, including serving as the science consultant to ESPN’s Sports Figures.


Seeing is believing, so, grab the popcorn! The Activate Learning video team has traveled the nation visiting many different schools all engaged with our curricula. Watch to see how ALL of our learners are succeeding in investigation-centered STEM.


Active Chemistry – Overview – Becoming Student Scientists

Active Physics / Active Chemistry – Physics and Chemistry for All (OH)

Active Chemistry – Scores Go Up at King Drew High School (CA)


Active Chemistry – Case Study Part 1: Demographics at King Drew High School (CA)

Active Chemistry – Case Study Part 2: The Classroom and Beyond at King Drew High School (CA)

Active Chemistry – Case Study Part 3 : Results at King Drew High School (CA)


Active Physics/Active Chemistry – Olivia's Experience, Dublin Jerome High School, OH

Active Physics / Active Chemistry – Making an Impact with Project Based Learning (OH)

Active Chemistry / Active Physics – Intervention Specialist Experience (OH)

NGSS Alignment

Please open NGSS PDF.