Ancient Matter

The Days of Alchemy – a Digital Story

The way we study chemistry today, hasn’t always been the case for our ancestors. In fact, prior to the modern periodic table of elements and the term “chemistry”, ancient civilizations were experimenting with the pseudoscience of “alchemy.”

One of the most astonishing features of this pseudoscience, was that it was apparent in almost all of the ancient civilizations, with many never making contact with each other.

As you will hear in the video, what we know about science today has been a culmination of knowledge gathered from cultures across the world.

Ancient Matter Video

As you heard in the video, alchemists believed that everything was created from the four main elements of Earth, fire, water, and air with a few variations in various cultures. One of the biggest goals of alchemy was to create gold from other metals, often times using mercury.

Has anyone heard of the “philosopher’s stone”?

For the final project in this unit, I would like each group to create their OWN digital story on the philosopher’s stone in a chosen culture/civilization.

For the video, you will be using Adobe Spark Video – like I did in the video above.


  • Pick a culture/civilization to discuss philosopher’s stone
  • Maximum of 4 minutes
  • Each slide should have audio and a picture
  • Provide a written transcript

You have a lot of freedom in what type of information you would like to provide about the culture and it’s work on the philosopher’s stone. The goal of this project is to become familiar with creating a digital story and to also explore how chemistry was shaped through thousands of years of experimental collection through various cultures.

The final projects for all be shared on this class website under their own blog post. We will watch everyone’s project throughout the week.

Grade will be determined on completeness of requirements.

Please email me with any questions.






PhET Simulations

Hello Class,

For almost every unit, there will be an accompanying list of PhET Simulations created by scientists at the University of Colorado – Boulder. Below I have provided instructions on how to use this application. Under each unit I will name the simulations that go along with the unit. This is a great way to see chemistry in action and will help with visualization of chemical processes and concepts.

Here is a screencast on how you can access these simulations and use the website:

Directions discussed in video:

  • For each unit, there will be a list of PhET Simulations at the bottom of the “additional resources”
  • You can click on specific simulations, or you can go to the PhET Wesbite directly
  • If you are going to the main website, click on “Play with Simulations”
  • You can then select your simulation by either searching through “chemistry” or by “grade level – high school”
  • Depending on the unit, you will go through a variety of simulations

Although many of these simulations will be used in class, you can also download them on your computer at home. It is a great way to review material to gain a better understanding and to also practice building molecules, atoms, mixing solutions, doing acid/base titrations, etc.

If you are having trouble viewing a specific simulation, please contact me so we can figure out whether it is a program issue or if you do not have the right software downloaded on your computer. I encourage you to use these simulations throughout the year to gain a better understanding of complex chemistry concepts. Additionally, as you will see you can view simulations under physics, Earth science, biology and math, which will be useful for future classes. If you plan on pursuing a science degree at the college level, I recommend bookmarking the PhET website as it will be useful for college classes as well.