Chemical Interactions

Contributor: Hannah Brooks. Lesson ID: 12127

If chemistry compounds your troubles with science, we have the solution! This lesson contains a mixture of research, examples, and a project, to teach you the pure substance of chemical interactions!


Chemistry, Life Science

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


What causes things to be attracted to one another? Or repel each other? Or change color? Or, even cooler, explode? Learn what causes chemical reactions!

We learned about elements in the previous Related Lesson of our Cellular Chemistry series, found in the right-hand sidebar — remember that there are many different kinds of elements!

Metals are on the left-hand side of the periodic table and conduct electricity. Nonmetals are found on the right side of the periodic table and can be any phase at room temperature. These elements are all made up of the same particles, but have very different kinds of interactions with other elements and substances.

Take time to learn about the kinds of interactions between elements. Since this lesson is part of Cellular Chemistry, continue the vocabulary journal you started in the previous lesson. Remember, terms go on the left-hand side and meaning is entered on the right-hand side. Record all underlined words throughout the lesson.

Elements can chemically bond together, creating compounds or molecules. Compounds are made of two or more elements bonded by transferring electrons. These kinds of substances are often made by combining metals and nonmetals. This means that one element, the metal, gives its electrons to another element, the nonmetal, to form a new substance. An example of this is table salt. Table salt is made up of the elements sodium and chlorine, two elements bonded together.

Molecules are a little different because they are two or more elements bonded by sharing electrons. Molecules are made up of two or more nonmetals. An example is methane, which bonds one carbon atom with four hydrogen atoms, but all atoms share electrons to keep the bond stable.


  • Can you think of other compounds or molecules?
  • What about water, H2O or glucose, C6H12O6?

Compounds and molecules are used every day by the cells in your body and the living organisms around you.

Compounds and molecules are chemically bonded, but mixtures are just physically mixed together. Think about a fruit salad.

  • How easy would it be to pick out just the grapes?
  • But could you separate out the oxygen from hydrogen in a glass of water?

Chemical bonds are very hard to break, and are not easily separated. Mixtures are two or more substances physically combined and easy to separate. Mixtures can be heterogenous or homogenous, and can involve liquids, solids, or gases. There are many mixtures we use in the kitchen!

  • Heterogenous mixtures are not evenly distributed, like a box of cereal with fruit or marshmallows, where the larger pieces settle to the bottom. They do not look uniform in texture or size.
  • Homogenous mixtures have a uniform distribution, like Kool-Aid, sugar, and water. These appear to be the same throughout the entire sample. Another name for homogenous mixtures of liquids is solution. Solutions have two parts: the solute and the solvent. The solute is the substance that will be dissolved, like the Kool-Aid powder or the sugar. The solvent is the substance that dissolves — in the Kool-Aid example, the water.


  • Can you identify the solute and solvent in this picture?

The blue would be the solute, while the water is the solvent. Eventually, the color will dissolve evenly, leaving the solution a light blue.

You have learned the basics of chemistry through this lesson.

  • So, how does this apply to cell interaction function?

Well, cells have to maintain specific levels of compounds and molecules to keep functioning properly. Plants use sunlight to create glucose, an energy-rich molecule used for food. When we eat plants, we take in the glucose and convert it into adenine triphosphate, or ATP, an energy molecule used by our cells to transport materials across the cell membrane.

In the Got It? section, you will learn more about important cellular chemical interactions that help keep your cells functioning!

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