Professional Learning Podcast Treasury Lesson Plans Personal Workspace Site Search ALEXville Learning Assets Home Courses of Study
Home  |    Add Bookmark   |   Print Friendly   |   Rate This Lesson Plan   |   Suggest a Variation

Lesson Plan

You may save this lesson plan to your hard drive as an html file by selecting "File", then "Save As" from your browser's pull down menu. The file name extension must be .html.

This lesson provided by:
Author:Miriam Adams
System: Cullman County
School: Hanceville Middle School
Lesson Plan ID: 24106

Comparing Solvents


Students will investigate the effects of solvents in cleaning by designing and carrying out an experiment utilizing the steps of the scientific method. A video is used as an introduction to the concept of solvents. Hazardous effects of solvents are also discussed.
This lesson plan was created as a result of the Girls Engaged in Math and Science, GEMS Project funded by the Malone Family Foundation.

Content Standard(s):
SC(8) 1. Identify steps within the scientific process.
SC(8) 6. Define solution in terms of solute and solvent.
SC(9-12) Environmental Elective4. Identify the impact of pollutants on the atmosphere.
SC(9-12) Environmental Elective8. Identify major contaminants in water resulting from natural phenomena, homes, industry, and agriculture.
TC2(6-8) 6. Select specific digital tools for completing curriculum-related tasks.
TC2(6-8) 9. Practice responsible and legal use of technology systems and digital content.
Local/National Standards:

National Science Education Standards TEACHING STANDARD A: Teachers of science plan an inquiry-based science program for their students. In doing this, teachers Develop a framework of yearlong and short-term goals for students. Select science content and adapt and design curricula to meet the interests, knowledge, understanding, abilities, and experiences of students. Select teaching and assessment strategies that support the development of student understanding and nurture a community of science learners. Work together as colleagues within and across disciplines and grade levels.

Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students will develop a procedure to test the effectiveness of solvents. Students will differentiate between solute, solvent and solution. The scientific principles of dry cleaning will be observed.

Additional Learning Objective(s):  
Approximate Duration of the Lesson: 91 to 120 Minutes
Materials and Equipment:

You will need 4 inch squares of white cotton fabric; any household item capable of producing a stain (ketchup, mustard, ink, oil, chocolate, permanent marker, lipstick, etc.); solvents such as water, alcohol, bleach, laundry detergent; cotton-tipped applicators; small paper cups; small jars with lids; Kool-Aide or similar powdered drink mix; safety goggles; and lab aprons (optional)-Some of the solvent items may harm clothing. If you choose to do the demo on the Steve Spangler website in addition to showing the video, you will also need a beaker, packing peanuts, and nail polish solution containing acetone.

Technology Resources Needed:

You will need a computer with Internet capability, and a projector.


Groups should be established prior to assigning group projects. Groups should be diverse, consisting of both male and female students. In order to facilitate accommodations and provide peer mentoring, it is often best to group a high performer, low performer, and two average students in a group. Assemble all supplies. Stain items may be placed in small labeled cups. Solvents should be placed in small jars with lids.

1.)On the first day of the lesson, have the kids brainstorm ideas about the definitions of the terms solute and solvent. Write these ideas on the board.

2.)Demonstrate mixing up powdered drink mix in water. Explain to the students that the solute is placed in the solvent to make a resulting solution. The solute is the smaller amount and the solvent is the larger amount. Serve the drink to the class.

3.)As students are drinking, ask for other examples of solutes and solvents. Some examples might be lemonade, tea, or pudding. Non-food examples might include air, potting soil, or steel.

4.)Show students the video on packing peanuts and solvents by using the attached website. If time allows, perform the demonstration for the students.
(Steve Spangler Science)
This website video shows the effect of a solvent (acetone) on packing peanuts.

5.)Explain that dry cleaning is a process utilizing solvents to remove stains. Tell each lab group to develop and outline a procedure to test at least 3 of the stain items with 3 of the solvent items. Allow 15-20 minutes for each group to develop a plan of action. Review the plan with each group. Check for constants such as stain size and application of consistent amount of solvents. Be sure that only one solvent is tested on each piece of cloth, otherwise the solvents may overlap resulting in problems in interpretation of data.

6.)Allow students to prepare their stained pieces of cloth. The stains should sit overnight to dry.

7.)During the second class period, have students make a hypothesis about which solvent will remove each stain. Students should also prepare a rubric with a key to grade the efficiency of the stain removal.

8.)Allow students to test the solvents. Student results may be presented in the form of powerpoint presentation. Students might also prepare posters or bulletin boards utilizing pictures made with digital cameras.

9.)Discuss the results obtained and address any discrepancies that may have occurred. Discrepancies might be caused by amount of solvent used, variation in rubbing the stain, etc.

10.)Display the attached website for the students.
(How Stuff Works)
This website describes the science of dry cleaning and the health hazards of solvents.

11.)Discuss the environmental impact of the addition of solvents and other contaminants to the water supply. Use the video on the attached website to generate discussion.
This video provides insight into contamination of the universal solvent, water.

12.)As a follow up activity, have a representative from a local manufacturing plant visit your class to discuss recycling and anti-pollution activities used in production at their facility.

13.)Students may also prepare tie-dyed shirts by following the directions on the following attached website.
(Steve Spangler)
This website gives directions for tie-dying the shirt.

Attachments:**Some files will display in a new window. Others will prompt you to download.
Assessment Strategies:

Grading opportunities include evaluating the procedure developed, lab technique, and the results table prepared by the student.


If time allows, let students compare detergents or stain removal sprays. Students may also wish to compare stains on different types of fabrics.

Each area below is a direct link to general teaching strategies/classroom accommodations for students with identified learning and/or behavior problems such as: reading or math performance below grade level; test or classroom assignments/quizzes at a failing level; failure to complete assignments independently; difficulty with short-term memory, abstract concepts, staying on task, or following directions; poor peer interaction or temper tantrums, and other learning or behavior problems.

Presentation of Material Environment
Time Demands Materials
Attention Using Groups and Peers
Assisting the Reluctant Starter Dealing with Inappropriate Behavior

Be sure to check the student's IEP for specific accommodations.
Variations Submitted by ALEX Users:
Alabama Virtual Library
Alabama Virtual Library

Hosted by Alabama Supercomputer Authority
The University of Alabama at Birmingham
The University of Alabama at Birmingham
The Malone Family Foundation
The Malone Family Foundation
Best of the Web