Redox chemistry

Classroom resources featuring activities from our Redox Chemistry professional development course for teachers

This collection is most valuable to those who have attended this course and wish to put into practice with their students some of the ideas and activities presented as part of that event. Please note that this list is not exhaustive; not all trainer activities have a corresponding classroom resource. In some circumstances there is variation between the training resource and classroom resource.

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Displacement reactions of metals

Examine the reactions between various metals and metal salt solutions

Aluminium foil

The real reactivity of aluminium

In association with

Illustrate the displacement of copper from copper(II) sulfate solution using aluminium foil.

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Reactions of halogens (as aqueous solutions)

In association with

This experiment compares the colours of three halogens in aqueous solution and in a non-polar solvent. These halogens also react to a small extent with water, forming acidic solutions with bleaching properties.

Conical flask containing blue liquid

The ‘blue bottle’ experiment

In association with

Transform methylthioninium chloride from blue to colourless and back again by mixing it with glucose and shaking the solution, then letting it settle.

Zinc powder

The reaction between zinc and copper(II) oxide

In association with

Illustrate the idea of competition reactions by reacting copper(II) oxide and zinc metal together, causing an exothermic reaction.

EXHIBITION-CHEMISTRY-250

The thermite reaction

Demonstrations designed to capture the student's imagination

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Ri Christmas Lectures® 2012: Chemical Change

In association with

A teaching resource on Chemical Change, supported by video clips from the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures® 2012.

Weighing a powder on a balance

Reduction of copper(II) oxide by hydrogen

Determine the formula of copper(II) oxide by reducing it using hydrogen or methane.

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Reaction between aluminium and iodine

In association with

Treat your students to a spectacular demonstration as aluminium and iodine are catalysed by water.

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Electrolysis of potassium iodide solution

Filter paper soaked in potassium iodide solution which also contains starch and phenolphthalein is placed on an aluminium sheet which forms one electrode of an electric circuit. The other electrode is used as a ‘pen nib’ to ‘write’ on the filter paper. When this electrode is made positive and the ...

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Colourful electrolysis

In association with

An interesting introduction to the electrolysis of brine (sodium chloride solution). Students use Universal Indicator to help them follow what is happening during the reaction.

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Electrolysis of molten zinc chloride

In association with

This demonstration shows that an ionic salt will conduct electricity when molten but not when solid. Zinc chloride is used - this will melt at Bunsen burner temperatures.

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Rusting

This activity looks at rusting in the context of shipwrecks. It has different demands to the traditional experiment to show the factors needed for rusting to occur.

Ammonium vanadate in conical flask

The oxidation states of vanadium

Introduce your students to the idea that different oxidation states of transition metal ions often have different colours and that electrode potentials can be used to predict the course of the redox reactions.

Batteries

Rechargeable cell - the lead acid accumulator

In association with

Illustrate the charging and discharging of a lead-acid cell to show the relationship between the electrical energy put into the cell and the energy released.

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A visible activated complex

A simple demonstration of catalysis also introducing the idea of an activated complex and to allow discussion of the mechanism of catalysis.

Beakers with red, yellow and green liquid

Traffic lights

An exciting gateway to a full-scale kinetic investigation

EXHIBITION-CHEMISTRY-400

Turning copper into gold and silver

Demonstrations designed to capture the student's imagination

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Oxidation numbers

This activity introduces oxidation numbers by giving a conceptual foundation for them in terms of electron accounting and polar bonds. It then shows how the model used so far needs refining.

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Making a reaction tube

Many reactions between gases and solids are suitable for demonstrations and class practicals. Making reaction tubes is an excellent lesson in physical chemistry in its own right as well as being cheaper than buying in expensive material.

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The combustion of iron wool

In association with

Demonstrate a clear increase in mass as iron wool is heated in air on a simple ‘see-saw’ balance.

Beaker containing blue liquid and dry ice on top

Endothermic solid-solid reactions

In association with

Observe an endothermic reaction as solid hydrated barium hydroxide is mixed with solid ammonium chloride to produce a liquid that evolves into ammonia gas. The temperature drops dramatically to about -20 °C.

Demonstration of the recombination of hydrogen and oxygen with splint

Exploding bubbles of hydrogen and oxygen

In association with

Produce a small explosion in your classroom by electrolysing water then re-combining the hydrogen and oxygen gas.

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Anecdotes: In the Limelight

The background and chemistry of burning calcium with hydrogen and oxygen to make ‘limelight’.

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Competition for oxygen

This experiment involves the reaction of a metal with the oxide of another metal. When reactions like these occur, the two metals compete for the oxygen. The more reactive metal finishes up with the oxygen (as a metal oxide). If the more reactive metal starts as the oxide then no ...

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Extraction of iron on a match head

In association with

Students reduce iron(III) oxide with carbon on a match head to produce iron in this small scale example of metal extraction. The experiment can be used to highlight aspects of the reactivity series.

EXHIBITION-CHEMISTRY-250

The thermite reaction

In association with

Prove that aluminium is a more reactive metal than iron by demonstrating the highly exothermic reaction between aluminium and iron(III) oxide resulting in molten iron.

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Finding the formula of copper(II) oxide

In association with

Students heat copper(II) oxide in a glass tube while passing methane over it. The copper(II) oxide is reduced to copper. If the reactants and products are weighed carefully the formula of the copper oxide can be deduced. This could also be used simply as an example of reduction.

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The ‘whoosh’ bottle demonstration

In association with

A mixture of alcohol and air in a large polycarbonate bottle is ignited. The resulting rapid combustion reaction, often accompanied by a dramatic ‘whoosh’ sound and flames, demonstrates the large amount of energy released in the combustion of alcohols.

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Spontaneous exothermic reaction

In association with

In this demonstration experiment, a mixture of glycerol (propane-1,2,3-triol) and potassium manganate(VII) crystals bursts into flame, giving off clouds of steam, after a short time lag.

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Heating Group 1 metals in air and in chlorine

In association with

This is a demonstration that shows the reactions of Group 1 metals in air and in chlorine.  It does not clearly show the trends in reactivity of Group 1 metals, which are better demonstrated by the reactions in water, which follow on well from this demonstration.

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Generating, collecting and testing gases

In association with

Gases give rise to particular hazards so great care must be taken when preparing, collecting or testing.

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Diffusion in liquids

In association with

Demonstrate the diffusion that takes place in liquids using colourless crystals of lead nitrate and potassium iodide at opposite sides of a petri dish of deionised water.