Chemical Eating

Middle School and High School Teacher

Using the Periodic Table of Elements the students will research ingredients listed on food product labels.

Grade Level: 8 - 10th

Subject: Science

Length of Time: 2-3 Class Periods

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Objectives & Outcomes

The students will be able to identify the elements used in various food products based on the ingredients listed on the labels.  Using various resources the students will be able to indicate the positive or negative benefits and/or side effects of the elements when consumed.

Materials Needed

  • Internet access or other resources
  • Power Point program access, or supplies needed to create display boards for a class presentation

Prepare ahead of time:  As many different food labels as possible from a variety of products, the longer the ingredient list the better; a sample label with ingredients to display and a listing of a few of the elements used in a couple of the ingredients


Opening to Lesson

  • Teacher will display the name of a common element from the periodic table which is also found in many food products
  • Ask students: How many of you have consumed this element?
  • Accept the responses from students
  • Reveal the food product and where it is found
  • Ask students if they were aware of the many elements or chemicals found in the food they eat

Body of Lesson


  • Display the sample food label highlighting some of the ingredients
  • Ask students how many of the ingredients they are familiar with and which ones they may have never seen or heard of before today
  • Discuss the responses
  • Identify some of the elements in the ingredients
  • List the positive benefits and/or negative side effects of consuming the element/chemical

Guided Practice

  • Distribute 3-5 food labels to each student (If possible give at least one each for a “healthy” food product, junk food product, and a liquid food product)
  • Explain the assignment to students: Using the food labels the students will research each of the ingredients using resources found on the Internet
  • The students will list each of the elements for each product, as well as the chemical formulas if possible
  • Direct students to research the positive benefits and/or the negative side effects of each ingredient as well
  • Encourage students not to overlook common ingredients which they assume will be healthy, or unhealthy.
  • Remind students to find facts about each product, not myths
  • Once completed with the research direct students to prepare a presentation for the class
  • Explain to students the expectations (or rubrics) for the presentation
  • Assign the students time slots to present the information to the class
  • On day three or later, each student will present their research to the class and respond to their peers’ questions.
  • Use the assessment or rubric page to evaluate the presentations
  • Continue until all students have had a chance to present the information

Independent Practice

  • Create a test or quiz related to the Periodic Table of Elements


Have a class discussion about the safety or concerns with some of the elements/chemicals researched?  Discuss healthy alternatives or other topics related to “natural” foods.  Discuss additives.

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Assessment & Evaluation

Assessment page used during presentations, multiple choice quiz/test to evaluate students’ knowledge of the period table.

Modification & Differentiation

Allow students to work in pairs or larger groups.  No class presentation, all written work turned in for evaluation.  Use of more or less ingredient labels.  Have students provide the food labels for the research.  Limit the number of presentations.

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