Mix It Up!

Chemical Engineering

Program ● Interactive ● Grades 3-8

During the Chemical Engineering classes, students use the Engineering Design Process to design, create, test, and refine various mixtures and solutions with different chemical properties. They develop solutions to clean up an oil spill, synthesize their own rocket fuel, and investigate the secrets behind color pigmentation.

Chemical engineering is a specialized field of engineering that focuses on understanding the molecular structure of materials and objects, and relating this knowledge to synthesizing new technology. Chemical engineering has expanded in recent years to include subset fields such as Nano engineering, materials engineering, and process engineering.

Utility Dough

Students will have the opportunity to make their own play dough using simple household materials and an inventive imagination. Students will learn how different materials react, chemically, and how they can change the look and feel of a mixture by adding or subtracting different design elements. Students will further refine their understanding of materials interactions in subsequent lessons.

Extension: Utility Dough Math Extension

Students will answer math questions to help them understand measurements in baking.


This activity is designed to teach students about the fundamentals of chemical separation through an easy-to-understand demonstration with marker dye. Students will watch in amazement as compound colors – like green and purple – slowly separate into their individual components, and will be challenged to infer which color matches to its appropriate chromatograph.

Lift Off

Taking cues from aerospace engineering, the Lift Off Activity will focus on the chemical reactions that occur between two inert substances, water and calcium carbonate. Students will also have the chance to design their own aerodynamic body gear for a small model rocket and test their unique chemical propellant in a multi-phase process.

Extension: Lift Off Math Extension

Students will chart flight data from their launches and respond to questions about that data.

Sun Painting

Sun Painting allows students to unleash their creative side while learning about simple photochemical processing and the light spectrum. Through guided trial-and-error, students will learn which visible colors are most effective at developing and exposing photographic prints. Sun printing, or cyanotype, will give students the opportunity to closely examine an object in detail, as the object being printed leaves a direct contact silhouette on the specially-formulated sun print paper.

Playful Polymers

In this activity, students will be able to manipulate the material properties of glue. By combining glue with different solutions, students can explore processes needed to create new materials. Can students turn glue into Play-Doh, slime, or bouncy balls?

Ice Cream Factory

During this activity students will explore the freezing processes of ice cream. After their first batch, students will manipulate the process to see if they can reduce freezing time. Students will have a multiple chances to improve the properties of the ice cream.

Extension: Ice Cream Factory Math Extension

Students will plot ingredients vs percentage used for making ice cream to analyze different batches.