Organic/Biochemistry is a course designed to prepare students for taking both AP Chemistry and AP Biology.  The course addresses AP learning objectives from both courses.  It is a rigorous, math-based course, with a significant laboratory component.  It is intended to provide a deeper knowledge base of the content and skills needed for taking college level biology and chemistry.  The course uses a guided inquiry approach specifically modeled on the VESTED and 5-E instructional models.  Each unit is designed to be problem-based and uses lessons from a variety of sources. When ever possible, AP free-response and AP free-response styled questions are encorporated into the course assessments.


Many of the units are either introduced or assessed with activities from the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science (NCCSTS) ( 


On this page I will document one model unit that encorporates my philosophy and approach to teaching and assessing.  Further supporting pages and eventually other units will be added in the future.

Organic/Biochemistry Unit 2

Acids/Bases/Buffers and Evaluating Science


NGSS Standards:

HS.Chemical Reactions

HS-PS1-6. Refine the design of a chemical system by specifying a change in conditions that would produce increased amounts of products at equilibrium.*

HS-PS1-7. Use mathematical representations to support the claim that atoms, and therefore mass, are conserved during a chemical reaction.


HS.Structure and Function

HS-LS1-2. Develop and use a model to illustrate the hierarchical organization of interacting systems that provide specific functions within multicellular organisms.

HS-LS1-3. Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence that feedback mechanisms maintain homeostasis.


HS.Matter and Energy in Organisms and Ecosystems

HS-LS1-7. Use a model to illustrate that cellular respiration is a chemical process whereby the bonds of food molecules and oxygen molecules are broken and the bonds in new compounds are formed resulting in a net transfer of energy.


Essential Questions:

What is an acid? What is a base? How do we know the difference?

How can we determine the Molarity of an acid or base solution by titration?

How does the concentration of H+ ions in the stomach affect health?

How effective are heartburn remedies for neutralizing acid?


Enduring Understandings (From College Board AP Chemistry and AP Biology)

2.A: Matter can be described by its physical properties. The physical properties of

a substance generally depend on the spacing between the particles (atoms, molecules, ions) that make up the substance and the forces of attraction among them.

3.A: Chemical changes are represented by a balanced chemical equation that identifies the ratios with which reactants react and products form.

6.A: Chemical equilibrium is a dynamic, reversible state in which rates of opposing processes are equal.

6.C: Chemical equilibrium plays an important role in acid-base chemistry and in solubility.

Unit 2 Essential Knowledge
Click on the photo to check out Unit One Essential Knowledge (College Board 2013).
Unit 2 Learning Objectives
Click on the photo to check out Unit One Learning Objectives (College Board 2013).
Unit 2 Vocabulary
Click on the photo to check out Unit One Vocabulary.

Organic/Biochemistry Unit 2 Summary of Activities


1.  Pseudoscience and Human Health Ted Talk (VESTED View/5-E Engage)

2. Acids, Bases and Buffers: Acid Overdose Case Study  (5-E Explore/VESTED Explain/Speak)

3. Strong Acid/Base Titration (5-E Explain/VESTED Explain and Speak)

4. Heartburn Introduction Lesson (VESTED View/5-E Engage)

5.Heartburn Remedies Research (5-E Explain/VESTED Transform)

7. Heartburn Remedy Test (Inquiry LAB) (5-E Ellaborate/VESTED Extend)

8. Heartburn Remedy Presentation (5-E Evaluate/VESTED Deliver)

Unit 2 Description
Unit 2: Acids, Bases and Scientific Evidence: Investigating Heartburn Remedies
This is the second unit in my Organic/Biochemistry Class.  My goals are to review the basic concepts of acids and bases, to make sure that students know how to do a titration and understand the microscopic chemical process that are being measured, as well as examine how acid/base chemistry is important in living systems and examine how science information is often manipulated and presented in such a way as to mislead nonscientists.

5-E Engage (VESTED View)

Video from TED Talks



5-E Explore (VESTED Explain/Speak)

Acids, Bases, and Buffers: A Case of Aspirin Overdose from the National Center for Case Studies in Science


In this “clicker case,” a three-year-old girl gets into the medicine cabinet and ingests an unknown number of aspirin tablets. Her brother calls 911 and the girl is taken to a nearby hospital, where she is treated. The case is used to discuss the Law of Mass Action, chemical equilibrium and equilibrium constants, pH, and weak acids and buffers in the context of medical management of a life-threatening emergency. It is called a “clicker” case because it is designed to be presented in a class that uses personal response systems, or “clickers.” The case is presented via a series of PowerPoint slides (~400KB) punctuated by multiple-choice questions, which the students answer using their clickers. It could be adapted for use without these technologies. The case is suitable for use in an introductory biology course where integration with biologically relevant chemistry is an important course objective. It could also be used in a chemistry course.

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