In Search of Solutions: White powder mix-up at the factory


In Search of Solutions: As chemical engineers, you are contracted to determine how to identify several different white powders... Linking to topics on chemical reactions and physical/chemical changes.



If you teach primary science, click the headings below to find out how to use this resource:

Skill development

Children will develop their working scientifically skills by:

  • Drawing conclusions and raising further questions that could be investigated, based on their data and observations.
  • Using appropriate scientific language and ideas to explain, evaluate and communicate their findings.
  • Asking their own questions about scientific phenomena.

Learning outcomes

Children will:

  • Observe that some materials will dissolve in liquid to form a solution, and describe how to recover a substance from a solution.
  • Explain that some changes result in the formation of new materials, and that this kind of change is not usually reversible, including changes associated with burning and the action of acid on bicarbonate of soda.

Concepts supported

Children will learn:

  • Substances can be grouped according to their chemical and physical properties, including dissolving.

Suggested activity use

This activity could be carried out as a whole class investigation, with children working in small groups to solve the problem. The resource provides a useful way for children to consolidate previous learning and apply it to problem solving scenarios.

Practical considerations

Primary schools may have limited resources, so you may want to adapt the original letter and activity to meet your needs. For example, a different set of white powders could be used, such as bicarbonate of soda, flour, and salt.

Hydrochloric acid cannot be used with young children, so vinegar could be an alternative.

You may want to provide prompting questions or descriptions of the powders to children so they have an idea as to which tests to perform and what results they would expect to see.