GCSE (Age 14-16)

GCSE Chemistry provides some of the foundations for understanding the world around us and its future. Scientific understanding is changing our lives, and is vital to the world’s future prosperity.

The resources on this page link chemistry research and ‘real-world’ chemistry to topics from the GCSE National Curriculum. The resources are free to download, modify and use under a Creative Commons License.

Biopolymers for Cancer

This activity compares two seaweed extracts (polymers called alginate) to see which might be better at absorbing iron. Dietary iron is known to be a risk factor for bowel cancer and research at the University of Birmingham is showing how alginate from seaweed might be able to help.

Curriculum Topics: Working scientifically, polymers, covalent bonding, ions, lifestyle risk factors, medicine development 

Cages to trap metals

Investigate how zeolites can be used to remove hazardous metals from water and how they are being used in the Fukushima cleanup.

Curriculum Topics: Working scientifically, water treatment, ions 

Carbon for water treatment

Compare activated carbon to BBQ charcoal to learn which is better at removing pollutants from water

Curriculum Topics: Working scientifically, carbon, molar calculations, Earth’s water resources

Corrosion Art

Architects, jewellers and artists often oxidise copper to make beautiful blue/green ‘patinas’ on the surface of metal surfaces, such as the Mermaid fountain (Birmingham, UK) and the Statue of Liberty (New York, USA). Here we can make our own!

Curriculum Topics: Working scientifically, properties of metals and alloys.

Distillation of fizzy drinks

Distil common fizzy drinks to learn about fractional distillation of crude oil

Curriculum Topics: Working scientifically, fractional distillation, intramolecular bonding, boiling points 

DNA barcodes for healthcare

DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is present in the living cells of animals and plants, and contains the genetic code that determines the make-up of every single protein of an organism. In this experiment, we extract the DNA from cells of strawberries and bananas.

Curriculum Topics: Working scientifically, DNA, DNA structure.

Fuel cells for future energy

In this activity students make a simple copper and zinc battery and hydrogen fuel cell.

Curriculum Topics: Working scientifically, energy change, electrochemistry, chemical cells, fuel cells.

Imaging Metal Corrosion

In this activity students compare how different metals corrode in agar gel doped with pH indicator. They then draw links between electochemisty and metal reactivity.

Curriculum Topics: Working scientifically, properties of metals and alloys, the pH scale, bonding.

Nanotech for waterproofing and cleaning

Explore a natural nanostructured material and learn how scientists are copying that material to make self-cleaning windows

Curriculum Topics: Working scientifically, nanotechnology


For resources relating to GCSE teaching from BP, click here.

Beyond GCSE….

To showcase the huge range of jobs that can be found in Chemistry, perhaps show your students the ‘Future in Chemistry‘ profiles on the Royal Society of Chemistry website.

For an insight into what studying chemistry at university is like, take a look at this useful blog showing a week in the life of a chemistry student at the University of Birmingham.

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