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If you're working to help your students appreciate how chemistry applies in the "real world" outside the classroom or looking for activities and exercises that help students develop their problem-solving skills, Solving Real Problems with Chemistry, 2nd Edition is an absolute gem of an activities book.

Its 23 activities expose students to practical ap-plications of the principles of chemistry in a way that will catch and sustain their interest, challenging them to improve their performance in critical aspects of problem-solving including asking key questions, performing calculations, modeling, and validating.

As you might expect, each activity provides pertinent context, a succinct statement of a problem (their challenge), and space to work out their solution to the problem. Each activity also contains meaningful bookends; at the beginning of each activity, students are provided with a short list of the specific skills they will use and improve as they solve the stated problem. Once students have finished solving the central problem of the activity, they are then challenged with two or three shorter problems, allowing them an additional opportunity to apply their newly-learned skills.


While solving a discrete problem is certainly evidence of learning, what makes this book so special is that once students solve the problem, they are prompted to take a step back and review the actual problem-solving process and methodology they used. Students are challenged to consider how what they learned during the course of solving a particular problem could then be applied in a more general way to help them solve new problems. In other words, they are guided and prompted to not only become aware of how they solve problems, but also to examine and consider how they can improve their problem-solving skills.

A truly unique feature of the book is the opportunity for an instructor to provide three different levels of help (clues) to students. Au Help (gold) presents a strategy that resembles the way experts think when they solve problems. The use of this strategy is illustrated and prompted to differing degrees in Ag Help (silver) and Cu Help (copper). As the semester progresses, students should move through these stages of Help to develop and improve their problem solving skills.

There is an Instructor's Resources website, which includes solutions to all Got It! problems, answer keys to the Help pages, as well as the Help pages for students (which include prompts but not the solutions).

Screenshot of Instructor
Resources site


Please note that access to the Instructor's Resources is strictly limited to instructors who formally adopt the book for their course or purchase the High School Site License. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.


We are pleased to offer an unlimited site license for high schools. For a one-time price of $300, you will be given access to all activities in Solving Real Problems with Chemistry, as well as all instructor resources (answer keys) and help pages. If you have any questions about the site license, we encourage you to contact us. The Site License is good for three full academic years, from the time of purchase.

High school site license: $300
(password-protected online access)


Screenshot of the High School Site License site


Click any underlined text to view sample sections of the book (pdf files).

Preface, Acknowledgments, Table of Contents

  1. Cheap Gas: Is it Worth the Drive?

  2. Are Homeopathic Medicines only Placebos?

  3. Formulating a Fertilizer

  4. Substitute Baking Soda for Baking Powder

  5. Neutralizing Washing Soda for Disposal

  6. Keeping Warm with Carbon-Based Fuels

  7. Ionizing with Light

  8. Origin of Color-Blindness

  9. Reactive Molecules

  10. Vitamins C and E: Where Do Those Vitamins Go?

  11. Designing a Fuel Injector for the Dodge Viper

  12. Mining Methyl Hydrate: Fire from Ice!

  13. The Source of Cellular Energy: ATP Reacting with Water

  14. Time of Death: When Did it Happen?

  15. Breath-Alcohol Analysis

  16. Making Soap Less Irritating

  17. Acidifying the World’s Oceans

  18. The Composition of the Dead Sea

  19. Where to Build an Aluminum Plant

  20. Batteries: What Do You Pay For?

  21. Chelates are Life Savers

  22. Predicting the Useful Life of Instrumentation on the Mars Rover

  23. The Atomic & Molecular Olympics

The Structure of a Typical Activity

What students need to know before beginning an activity.

The skills they will use and improve as they engage in an activity.

Additional data needed to solve the problem.

The question or situation requiring resolution.

Space for students to solve the problem.

Two or three questions that require students  to consider specific aspects of their solution.

Students are asked for alternative ways to solve the problem, and how what they've learned in solving this problem might apply to other situations or problems.

Students are given the chance to demonstrate what they've learned.

Solving Real Problem with Chemistry (2nd Edition)

Solving Real Problems with Chemistry (2nd Ed)

Eds: Goodwin, Hanson, Wolfskill

Web price: $24 + $8 Shipping & Handling


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If you're interested in adopting this book or in learning more, please contact us. We're happy to answer any questions you might have and to guide you through the ordering or adoption process.

ISBN: 978-1-60263-514-2
    Pacific Crest
P.O. Box 370 Hampton, NH 03843
Phone 603-601-2246

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