Potent Potions in Classroom Chemistry

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    Hi everyone,

    It was my goal to bring some design thinking into my science class. I’m also reading the Harry Potter series for the first time – the connection will become clear.

    I’ve really thought about how to best bring in MakerEd into the classroom. So I set a task to my class: brainstorm how to make 2 potion. One has to be a homogeneous solution and the other a heterogeneous mixture. Both have to have 1 liquid and 4 other ingredients. Each has to be tested against the definitions of both types of mixtures. Each has to have edible ingredients found at home, or easily in the grocery store.

    First they must empathize. I still struggle with this part of the DT model. But I think in this case it could mean that I need to get them interested in the task. They don’t know it yet, but they will be “tasting” their potions, as well as other students’, once I have gathered their ingredients. Perhaps knowing this bit of information, they will empathize and alter their ingredients.

    Second they must define: They need to “unlock” the definition of a homogeneous solution and heterogeneous mixture in order to successfully complete the task.

    Third they must ideate: I’ve paired them with another and they must collaborate on ideas of possible ingredients. They must encourage fun and positive interactions and the 4 c’s: collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity.

    Fourth they must prototype: do their potions live up to what a homogeneous solution is? What about a heterogenous mixture? What do they need to adjust/alter/change? Did they choose ingredients (solutes) that will completely dissolve in a solvent?

    Fifth they must test: I see this as prototype again but with their final product.

    Here’s what I was thinking. For a homogeneous solution students could make a sweet tea: hot water (solvent and the 1 liquid ingredient they must include), tea bag (infuses completely in hot water, remove tea bag), honey (dissolves completely), milk (distributes evenly), vanilla (distributes evenly). Does it follow the definition of a homogeneous solution? Does it pass the test?

    For heterogeneous mixture: milk (1 liquid ingredient the must include), lucky charms (or other cereal), and whatever other non-dissolving elements they want (m&m’s, a different type of cereal, etc) and test against the above mentioned criteria.

    I’m excited to see where they are at – because a substitute teacher introduced my lesson to them today. If any are doing classroom chemistry and would like cross curricular plan I’m happy to share (it’s not complete yet, but the above is).

    I’d love to hear your ideas and thoughts.

    My Best,



    Hi Kristen,

    Students are definitely going to get creative with their mixtures once they begin to ideate and refine their ideas, especially if they know other students are going to be testing their potions!

    I see this as a potential series of maker challenges, where once students uncover what these mixtures are, you can then give them a follow up challenge where they have to come up with devices that separate out these types of mixtures into their component parts using a set of material that you give them. They will need to do some investigating to find out how to recrystallize some of the solutes from the solvent, but ultimately will gain sincerely deep knowledge by doing so!

    -The Maker Ed Team


    Yes – exactly. I see them doing just that! I really love how I’ve found a way to use what is already laid out in the curriculum, and with past lessons, and incorporate design thinking and MakerEd.

    I’m excited!


    Hey Kristen,

    I love this idea! I’m wondering if you could work your Empathy piece with the Harry Potter books. Are the students currently studying them in class? It might be far-fetched but could you encourage the students to identify with the importance of potions in the Harry Potter book(s)? How potions affect the plot of the story or what could happened in the book if potions/spells didn’t work as planned. This could bring in a level of empathy that allows them to use critical thinking skills based on what they’re reading.

    Thanks for sharing this awesome task!


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