Easel by TpT
Seamlessly assign resources as digital activities

Learn how in 5 minutes with a tutorial resource. Try it Now  


Interactive resources you can assign in your digital classroom from TpT.
Learn about Easel

Easel Activities
Pre-made digital activities. Add highlights, virtual manipulatives, and more.
Easel Assessments
Quizzes with auto-grading that will be available for purchase on TpT soon.

Case of the Poisonous Pill: Chemistry "Moles" Unit (PBL)/ Distance Learning Op

Grade Levels
10th - 12th
Formats Included
  • Zip
69 pages
Share this resource

Also included in

  1. This BUNDLE consists of a year's worth of Chemistry Problem-Based Learning Units. They are also sold separately on TPT.All of the units have two sets of files. The "Classroom" files should be used in an in-person classroom setting. The "Absent" files can be used for long-term distance learning, home
    Save $8.45


The Case of the Poisonous Pill: A Problem-based "Moles" Unit (PBL) for High School Chemistry


A girl falls ill and dies after taking a medicine that her mother gives her. Soon other deaths are reported. The common factor in all of the cases is Extra-strength Tylenol.

Loosely based on the 1982 Chicago Tylenol murders, this problem-based learning investigation requires students to use moles, percent composition, and empirical formulas to determine why people keep dying after taking Tylenol.

For a list of materials and the first day activities, select the Preview.

Both the classroom version and the distance learning version follow the outline below. In the distance learning option, the case is presented using readings and videos.

This product is also part of a BUNDLE found here.


- Calculate formula/ molar mass.

- Calculate percent composition.

- Calculate empirical and molecular formulas.

- Define and use the concept of a mole.

- Use the mole concept to calculate the number of atoms, ions, or molecules of a sample of material.

- NGSS: HS-PS1-7. Use mathematical representations to support the claim that atoms, and therefore mass, are conserved during a chemical reaction.

Contents - Keys and teacher instructions included.

Day 1:

Introduction - A girl dies after taking a common medication given to her by her mother. The mother says that she gave the girl Tylenol from her purse and gives you a small pill case. You want to know the identities of the other pills in the case.

Counting Atoms in a Formula - Students learn to count the atoms in a formula and apply this to the formulas of several known medications.

Counting Atoms in a Sample - Students estimate number items using mass.

Day 2:

Introducing the Mole - Particle to moles calculations

Types of Pain Killers - Reading on classifications of painkillers and how they work

Moles to Particles/ Particles to Moles WS - Practice with particle-to-moles calculations

Day 3:

Moles to Mass - Students convert moles to mass and determine the formula/ molar masses of several known medications.

Overdose - Students use moles to calculate the amount of medication needed to cause an overdose.

Day 4:

Percent Composition I - Students find the percent composition of an egg and learn to calculate the percent composition of elements in a compound.

Percent Composition Practice WS - Practice with percent composition and moles

Day 5:

Percent Composition II (Day 1) - Students perform a lab to decide if two pills are identical by comparing the percent compositions of their active ingredient and binder.

Case File - Students practice making inferences.

Day 6:

Percent Composition II (Day 2)

Empirical Formulas - Students learn to calculate empirical formulas to determine what medications the victim’s mother has in her purse.

Day 7:

Molecular Formulas - Students learn to calculate molecular formulas.

More Victims - Further case update.

Fatal Dose - Students practice mole calculations, empirical formulas, and molecular formulas to determine whether a fatal dose of a poison could fit in a Tylenol capsule.

Day 8:

Finish Fatal Dose

The Poison - Students use percent composition to finally identify the poison.

The Profile - Students write a criminal profile of their suspect.

Suspects - Students read about two suspects and decide if their is enough evidence to convict either.

Day 9:

Real Story of Tylenol Murders - Reading about the case.

Review (not included)

Copyright © E. Stubbe (The Wasp Whisperer)

All rights reserved by author.

Terms of Use: This document is for personal use only and may only be used by the original purchaser. This entire document, or any parts within, may not be reproduced or displayed for public viewing. You may NOT electronically post this product online including to teacher blogs, classroom websites or school networks. Failure to comply is a copyright infringement and a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Total Pages
69 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
2 Weeks
Report this Resource to TpT
Reported resources will be reviewed by our team. Report this resource to let us know if this resource violates TpT’s content guidelines.


to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Use mathematical representations to support the claim that atoms, and therefore mass, are conserved during a chemical reaction. Emphasis is on using mathematical ideas to communicate the proportional relationships between masses of atoms in the reactants and the products, and the translation of these relationships to the macroscopic scale using the mole as the conversion from the atomic to the macroscopic scale. Emphasis is on assessing students’ use of mathematical thinking and not on memorization and rote application of problem-solving techniques. Assessment does not include complex chemical reactions.


Questions & Answers

Teachers Pay Teachers is an online marketplace where teachers buy and sell original educational materials.

More About Us

Keep in Touch!

Sign Up