Chemistry Enrichment Activity Category 2: Creative Writing
“Letter to Aunt Gladys” Points possible: 10 pts
Maximum of one during the year
Any marking period
Background: You have just received a letter from your Great-Aunt Gladys, who lives in
Cracker’s Neck, Virginia. She is a sweet old lady and has heard “such wonderful things” about
you. Aunt Gladys never made it past the eight grade, but she has an insatiable curiosity. She is
somehow under the impression, bless her misguided heart, that because you are taking chemistry
this year, you know the answers to just about all of life’s mysteries! Here is the end of her last
Anyway, honey, I do hope things are well with you. I’ve heard such wonderful
things about you… Which reminds me! Your cousin and I were sitting out on
the back porch last Tuesday, just like regular, and I got to thinking about some-
thing that has been bothering me (besides my rheumatism). What I would like
to know is (insert your question here). Now, remember, I’m getting along in
years and I ain’t had the wonderful education that you’re getting there at Mercy
High School. So when you write back, you be sure to explain it real good and
simple so that us regular folks can understand.
Love to the Family,
Directions: Choose a question from the list below or pick one of your own. Have the question
approved by your teacher (in either case) before you begin. Write back to Aunt Gladys in the
form of a letter. Your letter must answer her question in a clear and concise manner, easily
understood by someone who is not a chemistry scholar. The letter should be at least three
paragraphs long (one full page), double-spaced. It may include diagrams and pictures. On a
separate page give a bibliography that includes at least two references.
Grading Rubric: 10 pts (8 pts for thoroughness, clarity, and creativity; 2 pts for the bibliography.
1) What is the difference between a natural diamond and a man-made diamond?
2) Why is the sky blue?
3) How do antibiotics work?
4) What is meant by acid rain?
5) What is meant by the greenhouse effect?
6) Why is salt salty and sugar sweet?
7) How do batteries work?
8) Are self-tanners safe? How do they work?
9) Why are there different octane ratings for gasoline?
10) Why do plastic bottles have different numbers on the bottom? Which ones can be
recycled and why?
11) What does the “SPF-30” mean on sunscreen and why do we need sunscreens?
12) How do they make artificial snow?
13) Why are additives added to food?
14) How can fats be “saturated” or “unsaturated” and what are “trans fatty acids”?
15) What’s in artificial sweeteners?
16) Why are some foods irradiated and is it harmful?
17) Do teeth whiteners really work? If so, how?
18) What happens to our garbage after the waste disposal truck picks it up?
19) How does a scuba diver get the “bends”?
20) How does an air bag work?
…. others to be added…