Phase Diagrams from Kitchen Chemistry

John Brady
Smith College
Author Profile

This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see

This page first made public: Jul 17, 2008


The main pdf file describes a series of lab or lecture activities using water, salt, ice, sugar, and alcohol that can be used to help students understand simple phase diagrams. The supporting pdf file contains larger images of the phase diagrams for use as a pdf slide show or for printing handouts.

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications



This is designed for a sophomore or junior level required course in petrology.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students should have had an introduction to phase diagrams and have taken an intro chemistry course.

How the activity is situated in the course

This is a stand-alone exercise meant to help students understand phase diagrams.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

The goal of this activity is to have students use and understand phase diagrams.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Other skills goals for this activity

Description of the activity/assignment

Determining whether students have met the goals

Students have successfully met the goals if they demonstrate a better understanding of how to read and interpret a phase diagram.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Download teaching materials and tips

Other Materials

New TTE Logo Small

Petrology resources from across Teach the Earth »

Key Resources:

Join the Community:

or search