Chemistry with a Conscience:

The Science of Shampoo

An Introduction to
Green Chemistry
in the Middle School.


Chemistry with a Conscience is a green chemistry unit placing students in the role of materials scientists creating shampoo. Basic chemistry concepts are applied in this series of lessons & labs from Beyond Benign. The lesson plans below can be used in a progression or as stand-alone lessons to reinforce middle level chemistry skills and to teach Green Chemistry practices, infusing future generations with the ability to keep our planet and our species sustained.


Introduction to Chemistry with a Conscience - US Version
Lesson Sequence - US Version

Intro to GC Biomimicry DOC
Intro to Biomimicry Picture Set PDF


Lesson Name

Lesson Description

Writing the Principles

Lab activity. Students create glue and evaluate the process to deduce the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry.

[doc - US]

12 Principle Match Up

Students manipulate simplified versions of the 12 Principles and make real life connections to understand the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry.

[doc - US]

Bingo with Greg

In this reinforcement activity, students play Bingo to strengthen their understanding of the definitions and life connections associated with each Principle.

[doc - US]

The Story of Cosmetics

This controversial video highlights how cosmetics are made and regulated. The goal of this lesson is to introduce students to these concepts and inspire them to become educated consumers.

[doc - US] [video]

Is It Easy Being Green

Introduction to students’ green chemistry challenge.

[doc - US] [ppt - US]

Cookie Equations

Students use cookies to help them understand that chemical equations must be balanced.  They manipulate simulated elements and form simulated compounds represented by cookie parts.

[doc - US] [ppt - US]

The Heat Is On

Lab activity.  While creating using sodium hydroxide to create the base of their shampoos, students observe an exothermic reaction, measure the amount of heat, create a temperature over time graph showing their results, and determine ambient temperature strategies to use in the lab.

[doc - US] [ppt - US]

pH Neutral

Lab activity.  Students observe, measure, and record what happens as varying amounts of an acidic solution is added to a basic solution to obtain neutralization. They do this in relation to creating a pH balanced shampoo.

[doc - US]


Using as a basis for data, students use a graphic organizer, the orb, to make determine which shampoo is the “greenest”.

[doc - US] [ppt - US]
US: [Burts Bees][Garnier][Natures Gate]

Solvent Snapshot

Using International Safety cards, students analyze the toxicity of a variety of solvents they could use in the shampoo making process.

[doc - US]


Lab activity.  Students create a basic soap.  During this process, they must monitor and maintain a set temperature range.

[doc - US] [ppt - US]

Shampoozled 2

Lab activity.  Reviewing the pH Neutral lesson, students strive to create a pH balanced shampoo and experiment with green emulsifiers.

[doc - US]

In A Lather

Lab activity.  Students test different variables to see if they impact the effectiveness of the shampoo.  And, they answer the question, “Does the lather matter?”

[doc - US]

SLS Today

After viewing a Today Show segment, students evaluate the safety of sodium lauryl sulfate in their shampoos.  They analyze the toxicity of SLS.

[doc - US] [ppt - US]

SLS Toxicology

Lab activity. Students use lettuce or radish seeds to determine the toxicology of sodium lauryl sulfate.

[Contact us for this lesson]

Breaking the Tension

Lab activity.  Students observe the effect of surface tension in water, and the dispersive force of detergents to understand how shampoos work.

[doc - US]

Product Test

Lab activity.  Students conduct and experiment to determine if the shampoo they created is effective in cleaning hair.

[doc - US]


In this activity from Irv Levy, students manipulate m&ms to calculate e-factor and relate it to chemistry production.

[doc - US] [ppt - US]

In Your Bathroom

Students collect data on ingredients found in products brought from home and investigate the substances used to make these products.  They use this data to practice choosing data display methods.

[doc - US]


Students create puzzles analyzing their research on renewable and non-renewable packaging materials.

[doc - US]

Packed Up Properties

Lab activity.  Students use the properties of matter & the 12 Principles of Green chemistry to test various packaging materials and determine the most green & effective choice for their shampoo.

[doc - US]

Water Waste

Lab activity.  Students test various waste streams likely to come from household products and evaluate the environmental impacts of those wastes.

[doc - US] [ppt - US]

The Green Zine

Culminating activity.  Students create a magazine test, web page, and an art campaign to analyze their use of the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry and to promote their implementation.

[doc - US] [ppt - US]
[Unmasked 1][Unmasked 2]


  • Derek Silvers: [mp4]
  • DIY Cosmetics Recipes [pdf]
  • Product Inventory Icebreaker [pdf]
  • Shampoo Cartoons [doc]

Contact us for more information