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Shimmers and Rainbows:

The Chemistry and Art of Electroplating and Anodizing Jewelry


Summary: Approximately 105 chemistry students and 30 art students will work with a jewelry artist, an electroplating engineer and an expert chemist in anodizing in order to apply the principles and concepts of electrochemistry: including oxidation-reduction reactions and cell voltages in order to creatively design and produce a zinc-plated brooch and an anodized bracelet or earrings.


Need Statement: According to the National Science education Standards, science should be, "relevant to student’s lives; emphasize understanding through inquiry; and be connected to other school subjects."  This project will meet these challenges as the laws, principles and concepts of chemistry and the artistic aspects of jewelry making are related to studentsą everyday life experiences and interests involving the production and creative design of electroplated and anodized jewelry. Both School Improvement Plans state that education is a total community responsibility and that one goal of education is to instill in students an appreciation for life-long learning.  This project will actively address these issues by involving a jewelry artist, electroplating engineer and professional chemist in facilitating students and teachers in their understanding of the artistic and chemistry aspects of jewelry making.  The partnerships created among the classroom teachers and the community professionals will provide students with knowledge and opportunities that extend and complement their learning experiences in school and will allow them to see first-hand that what they do learn in school can be used to enrich their lives in future activities.


Strength Statement: The jewelry artist will guide students in the proper use of jewelry making

equipment and inform them about jewelry making as a career.  The jewelry artist will also help the teachers develop and implement classroom activities and guide them in the purchase of equipment most suitable for classroom use by students.  The electroplating engineer will help the teachers develop and implement laboratory activities that allow students to create a shimmery zinc-plated brooch.  The engineer will also explain to students and teachers how his company uses chemistry to manufacture a product.  The expert chemist in anodizing will help the teachers develop and implement laboratory activities that allow students to create colorful rainbow bracelets and/or earrings.  The chemist will guide teachers in purchasing and using the anodizing equipment most suitable for classroom use.  The chemist will visit with the students and explain to them how he uses chemistry in the manufacture and production of anodized and electroplated materials.  The chemistry teacher will provide the expertise in creating activities suitable for high school chemistry students, making sure all activities meet the objectives as stated in the NC Standard Course of Study for Chemistry and the School Improvement Plan.   Working with the jewelry artist, the engineer and the chemist, the teachers will provide the expertise in the implementation of all the activities in their high school environments, making sure all activities are appropriate and safe for the students.  The art teacher will provide the expertise in creating activities suitable for high school art students, making sure all activities meet the objectives as stated in the NC Standard Course of Study for Art Education.


Outcomes:  By working with the jewelry artist, electroplating engineer, and the chemist, the teachers will gain the confidence and knowledge needed to incorporate new and current science and artistic lessons and technologies into the classroom.  As students witness teachers working cooperatively with one another and the community professionals, they will see that learning is a life long enjoyable process and that each individual has a responsibility in sharing his or her expert knowledge in order to support and create unique and exciting learning environments.  The challenging lab activities will be based on concepts and principles that are relevant to student’s everyday lives and require them to make connections among what is being studied and other school subjects.  This project will provide students with answers to the often-asked question, "How will I ever use what I have learned in school?" Involving the community professionals in the classroom activities will allow students to gain experiences that extend and complement their learning beyond the classroom and they will see first-hand that the knowledge of chemistry and art concepts are essential to careers such as jewelry making, design and engineering.


Sustainability:  The lab activities developed for this project will be tried and tested and made available for use by other science and art teachers at both schools.  The non-consumable equipment purchased for this project and existing non-consumable equipment will be available for future use by teachers at both schools.  The two chemistry teachers will present this project at the 2002 NC Science Teachers Conference.  The lab activities will be posted on both schools’ web-sites making them available to other teachers across the state thereby incorporating technology into the project.



November ­ December 2001      Teachers will meet with the jewelry artist, engineer and chemist to plan

and begin development of lab activities.

December 2001                         Materials and equipment will be ordered

January-March 2002                  Further collaboration among teachers and community professionals to

finalize activities and schedule use of equipment.

April 2002                                 Community professionals will visit with students as they complete the

planned activities.

May 2002                                 Teachers will meet to discuss success of the project and make changes

and additions to the activities.


Evaluation:  Teachers and community professors will complete evaluations describing the success of the project and make recommendations for improvement if the project is repeated.  Evaluations will also address the levels of commitment and cooperation of the teachers, and the extent to which classroom practices have been enriched. 

Chemistry Evaluation: Chemistry students will be tested on the chemistry concepts and principles that include identification of the anode and cathode in an electrochemical cell, the direction of flow of ions in each cell, balancing oxidation-reduction half reaction, and the use of electrochemistry in the production of zinc-plated and anodized jewelry.  Chemistry students will complete detailed lab reports.  All lab reports will include detailed data analysis and critical thinking and conclusion questions.

Art Evaluation: Art students will be evaluated through testing and final art works produced. 

Art students will judge their own work in a self-critique, using the Principles of Design as well as the Elements of Art.  Self-critiques create a deeper knowledge base of the Principles of Design and Elements of Art.  This critique will include analysis of line, texture, shape and form in the creation of a composition.   Final self-analysis will include a professionally made product, jewelry making as a career and appreciation for the art and chemistry involved in jewelry making.