The textbook is designed for easy comprehension. It includes one idea per page and draws in “real-life” examples taken from the chemistry of the human body and the chemistry of the environment. All illustrations carry a specific message that helps to support an idea or concept.

The teacher's edition to the student book includes a partial wrap-around with the main ideas of each chapter, teaching tips, and a table that matches curriculum resources to each learning objective for each section of a chapter. It also contains examples of how to teach with a 5E model of learning in mind. In addition, detailed solutions to all problems in the book are provided.

The Teacher's Edition matches learning objectives with teaching resources found in the text, investigations, and presentations.


Laboratory investigations

In line with our focus on hands-on learning, the labs are central to the teaching of chemistry. These are inquiry-based discoveries of chemistry concepts that are done in a safe environment. The labs were designed to produce no hazardous waste, and they do not require an open flame or fume hoods. These investigations can be carried out in any classroom that has a sink. For each chapter, the first investigation is to be performed before the lecture. This prompts students to ask questions and provides a starting point for the formal lesson. There are a total of 58 investigations that span from discovering the difference between heat and temperature to schoichiometry and learning about electron configurations using an atom model. The quantitative investigations not only work, but they give students an opportunity to evaluate their answers by discussing potential sources of error and conducting a full error analysis.


The Teacher's Edition to the laboratory investigation manual contains a scope and sequence section that links the concepts learned in the student book with the concepts in the investigations. It also provides teaching tips, ideas, sample lessons, sample data, and analysis. Teaching tips include strategies for addressing misconceptions associated with the topic, preparing materials in advance, and guiding students through each investigation.

Laboratory equipment and Lab-Master™ system


Students isolate the hydrocarbon molecules responsible for the aroma in spices such as cinnamon. With the Lab-Master and condenser system, students work without the hazards associated with open flames in the classroom.

The program comes with a complete lab kit provided through LAB-AIDS®. It includes a Lab-Master system that connects to a temperature probe, voltage probes, and a heater. Using this heating system, 30 mL of water boils within 3 minutes with no open flame. This allows students to do distillation and condensation experiments to study the water cycle on Earth. The Lab-Master also features an integrated RGB spectrophotometer.

The atom model helps students visualize and understand the structure of the atom, organization of electrons, and concepts of valence and bonding according to the octet rule. Students also understand the concept of isotopes, sometimes an elusive idea if taught the traditional way.

A molecular model set helps students understand chemical formulas, chemical change, and molecular geometry. Investigations use these sets to go beyond the traditional way to use models. These labs are designed to USE these models to tell the difference between subscripts and coefficients. This is often a barrier for many students.

The lab equipment contains other items, such as a crucible, a condenser unit, and dimensional analysis and spectroscopy cards.

Presentations and videos
A wide range of curriculum resources are available to teachers. For each section of each chapter in the student book, and for each laboratory investigation, a PowerPoint presentation has been put together to help guide the flow of instruction. This represents a total of 132 presentations for this curriculum. Slides are not mere replicas of pages in the text. They are designed to help with math problems, stimulate critical thinking, and to show how to collect and analyze data.

Each investigation is also accompanied by a short instructional video so teachers know what to expect. These videos introduce chemistry concepts, pacing suggestions, and go through each step in the experiments. These videos embrace the inquiry-based approach and help teachers ask the right questions to students.

Picture Picture

Each chapter section has a corresponding set of PowerPoint slides. Likewise, each laboratory investigation for each chapter also has an accompanying presentation in PowerPoint format.

Instructional videos guide educators through each laboratory investigation.

Professional development

A key element of the NAC curriculum is professional development for educators. Tom Hsu and Manos Chaniotakis have personally trained more than 15,000 teachers in workshops across America since 1991. To support face-to-face training, Ergopedia has produced more than a hundred professional development videos. We work extensively with organizations such as the East Bay Educational Collaborative in Rhode Island and the Texas Regional Collaboratives. As the publisher of A Natural Approach to Chemistry, Lab-Aids also conducts workshops and trade fair presentations. Finally, the instructional videos for NAC provide an additional support for teachers through “night before” guidance on investigations in the curriculum.

Curriculum design principles

A Natural Approach to Chemistry was designed to incorporate findings from learning research. Clarity of language, educational illustrations, and solved problems aside, the content is delivered with two learning strategies in mind: a spiraling content and the 5E model of instruction.

Spiraling curriculum

The concept of spiraling means students are exposed to similar content in greater depth as their understanding and mathematical skills increase. A Natural Approach to Chemistry spirals the content within the course, while building on knowledge and skills from prior grades. This is consistent with learning research that shows students need multiple exposures and varied contexts before they effectively retain new knowledge and skills.


5E model of instruction

A Natural Approach to Chemistry was designed around the 5E instructional model. Extensive learning research since the 1960's supports the conclusion that learning does not take place all at once, but occurs in stages that are part of a learning cycle. The cycle that begins with some kind of engagement experience in which the learner cognitively connects with the content being taught. The learning experience is shaped through reflective and cognitive processes until it leads to real and retained learning. In 1989, Roger Bybee and colleagues suggested five steps that could serve as a model for developing instructional materials that explicitly made use of learning cycles. The five steps were called engage, explore, explain, extend, and evaluate. The 5E model is a proven, well-used, and successful curriculum design philosophy that has been used in more than 230,000 lesson plans in the past three decades. While there have been many refinements, the core idea is as powerful today as when it was first published.