Lab Manual for Connecting Chemistry to the Tribal Community

We invite the chemistry instructors at all tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) to use our "Lab Manual for Connecting Chemistry to the Tribal Community: Two Semesters of Chemistry Experiments and Teachings." It was created for a two-semester General, Organic, and Biochemistry course sequence.  Nebraska's two tribal colleges and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln collaborated to develop connections between the experiments and tribal community topics to help students see the chemistry of everyday life and to find intellectual satisfaction and enjoyment while doing so. This work was supported in part by an NSF Grant 1348382 titled "Framing the Chemistry Curriculum." To learn more about the project, you can watch this 3-minute video --

The labs can be performed by students alone or in pairs and will require about 2.5 hours to complete if the reagents and materials are ready. All labs have background information, community connections, a prayer, lab protocols and procedures, and suggestions for writing the lab report.  We invite users to provide feedback on these labs and the community connections.

First Semester Chemistry Experiments
1. Safety, Equipment, and Measurement
2. Density
3. Chocolate Density
4. Liquid Density
5. Period Table of Videos
6. Water Quality Analysis

Proposal for End of First Semester Project
7. Water Purification
8. Soil Quality Analysis
9. Herbicide Bioassay
10. Plant Pigments: Extraction, Chromatography, & Spectrometry
11. Endothermic and Exothermic Reactions Hot & Cold Packs
12. Molar Mass of Butane in Lighters
13.First Semester Creative Project and Presentation

Second Semester Chemistry Experiments
14. Acid & Base Indicators
15. Ascorbic Content in Traditional Native Foods
16. Qualitative Tests for Alcohols
17. Qualitative Tests for Aldehydes and Ketones
18. The Effect of Alcohol on Betacyanin Extraction
19. Preparation and Identification of Esters

Proposal for End of Second Semester Project
20. Synthesis of Aspirin and Wintergreen Oil
21. The Science of Soap Making
22. Transesterification of Oils in Native Plants
23. Extraction of Caffeine from Yerba Mate
24. The Effect of Heat on Enzymes Found in Native American Fruits
25. DNA Extraction
26. Second Semester Creative Project and Presentation

About the Electronic Version

Chemistry instructors at tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) are free to use this electronic version and to distribute copies of it to the students participating in the laboratory portion of their courses.  Non-TCU chemistry instructors should only use this electronic version to review its content; they do not have permission to use the experiments in their classrooms (but they do have permission to use the print version).

Download the Lab Manual

About the Print Version

A print version of this lab manual is sold through at can purchase the print version if they don't want to use the electronic version or the expense of printing copies of the electronic version. Non-TCUs have permission to use this manual for their laboratories.  The royalties from all purchases will be split between Little Priest Tribal College and Nebraska Indian Community College to support student learning activities.

About the associated Instructor & TA Manual

An associated manual for Instructors and Teaching Assistants includes information about setting up the experiments, preparing the solutions, and example answers to many of the questions. A copy of the Instructor & TA Manual can be obtained by sending an email to Dr. Mark Griep at will only be sent to instructors who send the following information:your name, your institutions name, a statement that you are an instructor at that institution, and the name of chemistry course (or how you intend to use it).