Chemistry is a wide, deep subject, broken into five main areas or branches. One branch concerns living things and the human body; another branch studies products and materials made in a lab. Which branch of chemistry interests you most?
- Analytical chemistry uses tests to discover ingredients in a substance. A pool worker tests the water to learn how much chlorine it contains. A nutritionist analyzes food to learn about the nutrients in it.
- Biochemistry is the study of chemistry in the body. Biochemists may study cancer cells to learn how to cure the disease. A biochemist might study viruses and bacteria to learn about infectious diseases.
- Inorganic chemistry is the study of inorganic – or nonliving – substances, such as metals and rocks. A scientist might study rock formations to determine how they were made; or study the composition of a steel beam to determine its strength.
- Organic chemistry is the study of carbon compounds, such as cleaners, plastics, food additives, and medicine. An organic chemist often works in a lab, developing better products for humans, such as safer medicines and cleaners or a new sunscreen.
- Physical chemistry studies the physical properties of molecules – how they move or change. When you bake cookies, the cookies become solid and browned – a physical reaction.
Analyze: observe, test, and study
Chlorine: a substance used to clean and purify water
Food additive: a substance added food to improve its flavor or appearance, or increase its shelf-life (how long it stays fresh)
Composition: the make-up of something; what it’s made of
Q and A
Question: Are there other branches of chemistry?
Answer: There are many branches of chemistry that fall under the five main branches. For example, the branch of biochemistry includes endocrinology (the study of hormones), clinical biochemistry (the study of disease), and many more.
Visit Chem4Kids to learn more about biochemistry.
Head over to WonderWhizKids to learn more about organic chemistry.