Our Stories

Teacher Grants: Chemistry in Action at Pasadena High School

I am very impressed and appreciative of the PEF Teacher Grant Program. It has allowed me to really show the students some of the exciting aspects of chemistry in a hands on fashion and not just based on lecture and textbooks. Without exception my students state in their year-end exit forms that they value the hands-on labs.Roger Baar | Chemistry Teacher Pasadena High School

by Brianna Chu

Pasadena High School chemistry teacher Roger Baar wanted a way to physically demonstrate an essential technique in chemistry – determining melting points of elements – to his five chemistry classes. To do so, he purchased two melting stations with which his classes could perform labs. These melting stations can be used for many different types of experiments: identifying unknown substances by their melting point, finding melting points for known organic solids, using melting points to analyze reaction products, or, in the case of Dr. Baar’s class, estimating the melting point for a fatty acid chain by determining its neighboring length fatty acid chains’ melting points. Students watched 12-, 16-, and 18-carbon chain fatty acids (lauric, palmitic, and stearic acids, respectively) melt and re-solidify, not only finding their melting points but also watching these compounds shift states of matter before their very eyes!


Dr. Baar and his students are enjoying the equipment, all agreeing that hands-on labs help students truly connect with the concepts they learn in class. Dr. Baar has noticed that these labs stand out prominently to students as highlights of their year in class, since they get the chance to “do” chemistry themselves. Now equipped with these melting stations, he is planning a variety of different experiments his students can conduct with them in the years to come.

The Pasadena Educational Foundation’s Teacher Grants help inspirational teachers throughout Pasadena Unified take their creative projects from idea to reality by providing resources to enhance the classroom experience for their students. The grants, provided directly to the teachers, benefit thousands of students in Altadena, Pasadena, and Sierra Madre.

For our 2018-19 grants we were proud to provide more than $200,000 for 125 grants to 190 educators including 14 school-wide grants. PEF Teacher Grants are made possible with generous support from the College Football Playoff Foundation, Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association, FEDCO Charitable Foundation, California Community Foundation, and individual community donors. Find out more here.