Family Chemical Story — A Poster Project
Chemistry Cornerstone Project
ACP Chemistry (821), 2017-18

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Last update: Wednesday, March 25, 2015 12:22 PM


The goal of this project is to connect a chemical to an interesting story about your family or a member of your family. The over-arching idea is that chemistry is everywhere, so in every story there is a connection to a chemical that can be found. The specific requirement is to find a story that is from a previous generation, and not from your generation, thus you will interview family members from your parents and your grandparents generations. You will gather information through your interviews, then select your favorite story. If a chemical associated with your story is not readily evident, your teacher will help you find your chemical. Remember: chemistry is everywhere! Once you have chosen your chemical, you will research your chemical in published literature and on the Internet to learn more about the chemistry, economics, importance, etc. As you learn about your chemical, keep in mind that one of your objectives is to relate information about your chemical to the use of your chemical in the story from your interview. The story from your chosen interview, and the results of your research, will be presented at a “poster session” held with your classmates on a day that will be arranged by your teacher.

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Project Components

  1. Interview.
    You need to interview at least three people of your parent’s or grandparent’s generation asking about an interesting story. You may find a story in which a particular chemical that had a profound impact on an individual family member, or on their family life. Ask how the chemical was used, when and why its use began, and how family life changed – get the whole story! Or you may find an interesting story that does not seem to have a chemical that you can link to the story. Remember — chemistry is everywhere! There is a chemical to be found in every good story. You may discover some very interesting things about your family history, as well as see how chemistry has affected the lives of people you know. From your interviews, choose one story about your family for your poster.
  2. Literature Research
    Using your interviews and published sources, investigate the chemical and the chemistry of the chemical that was important to your family. What are the issues surrounding development, application, and regulation of the chemical technology that changed family life? A well-constructed report will include some information on the structure and properties, source, current uses, and history of the chemical’s development and use. Use your textbook, library resources, and Internet resources to augment the family history – remember, however, that your main focus is the relevance of the chemical to your family.
  3. Bibliography
    Your primary source of information comes from your interviews. Your notes generated during the interviews should include the name of the interviewee, the questions you asked, and notes on the answers given. A complete bibliography is required – this includes any URL’s from Internet sources2, and general listings for reference literature, in addition to the information about your interviews/interviewees.
  4. Poster
    Your poster must be created on a folding poster board that measures 36 inches in height by 48 inches wide when unfolded. Your poster should be easy for a reader to follow and comprehend in three to five minutes. Keep information succinct, and use a font that is large enough to read easily from a distance of 3-5 feet. Use photographs, diagrams, tables, models, or whatever visual device is best suited for organizing and communicating information. You must include a drawing that you have created, such as a Lewis diagram, that illustrates the bonding of your substance. (Do not print a diagram from the Internet!) You will present your poster (and model) to the class in a “poster session” on evaluation day. Note that the poster presentations may possibly be in conjunction with other chemistry classes. At the poster session your classmates will have a chance to review your work and discuss it with you. Your poster should include the family story, and information about the chemical you chose.
  5. Model
    Construct a model that shows the 3-D geometry of your molecule. (A model design scheme is due with the pre-bibliography.) You may use any reasonable materials you like to construct your model, including toothpicks and cork, Styrofoam balls, clay, pipe cleaners, etc. Do not use manufactured chemical modeling kits. The footprint of the model (the dimensions of the base) cannot exceed 16 inches by 12 inches, without teacher approval.

2Information taken from the Internet must be cited by URL and you must print a copy for your records. This is in case the grader is unable to locate the URL – information on the Internet can be transitory.

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You must hand in the following:

Before poster presentation day (in accordance with the time table for your class.)

  • Rough draft of interview questions.
  • Interview notes (include notes from all three interviews, even if you only used one interview for your report).
  • Pre-bibliography and model design.

On poster presentation day you need to bring in to class:

  • Bibliography (follow the NSHS references standards available for download from the library website.) Share your bibliography on NPS Google Docs with your teacher. On poster presentation day you are to attache a copy of your bibliography to the back of your poster on the lower part of the right panel flap.
  • Poster (remember: use the exact size poster board specified by your teacher.)
  • Model (use materials of your choice – be creative – but no food, please.)

You will be graded on:

  • Adherence to the time table.
    Part of the grading is based on the completion of each component on time. Be sure to submit all components by their respective due date to get full credit.
  • Project content, creativity, clarity, and presentation. See the grading rubric for details.
    Grading will be based strongly on peer review. On the poster session day, each student will evaluate three posters and models created and presented by other students. These peer evaluations will comprise the basis for your project grade, subject to teacher review. 

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Project Time Table

The time table is an important component of the project. It is essential that all students keep current with the various aspects of the project so that everyone is prepared for the poster presentation day. Late posters will not be accepted, as they will not be able to be judged by a panel of peers. The specifics of the time table for each block will be given in class by your teacher.

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Project Evaluation Criteria

Poster development criteria are clearly outlined in the online Project Evaluation Rubric.  Be sure you read and understand the criteria before you complete your poster. (This handout is also available as Project Evaluation Rubric: PDF version.)

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Presentation Day Check List

  • Be sure your name appears on the front of your poster!
  • Be certain your have included your interviewee in your bibliography.
  • Be sure you have attached a copy of your bibliography to the back of the poster (lower right corner, as viewed from the front). Be sure you have shared an updated copy of your bibliography with your teacher on NPS Google Docs.
  • Make sure your model conforms to the design criteria set forth, including the restriction on size.


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Copyright© 2005 – 2014, and 2015 by Alan Crosby (adcrosby@nshs-science.org)
Newton South High School, Newton Centre, MA 02459
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