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.

A strip of magnesium becomes coated with dark brown copper as it reacts with blue copper sulfate solution

Displacement reactions of metals on a microscale

Examine the reactions between various metals and metal salt solutions in this microscale class practical. Includes kit list and safety instructions.

A close-up photograph of wrinkled silver aluminium foil

The reaction of aluminium and copper(II) sulfate

In association with

Try this practical or demonstration to illustrate the displacement of copper from copper sulfate using aluminium foil, with kit list and safety instructions.

A photograph showing a booklet of detachable strips of universal indicator paper, with a colour chart for comparison

Halogens in aqueous solution and their displacement reactions

In association with

Explore the chemical properties of halogens using this demonstration or class experiment. Includes kit list and safety instructions.

Conical flask containing Conical flask containing methylene blue redox indicator with glass stirring rod

The ‘blue bottle’ experiment

In association with

In this demonstration, the redox indicator Methylene blue can be oxidised many times by shaking. Includes kit list and safety instructions.

A photograph showing a pile of white zinc powder

Reacting zinc and copper(II) oxide

In association with

Illustrate competition reactions using the exothermic reaction between copper(II) oxide and zinc in this class demonstration. Includes kit list and safety instructions.

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.

A photograph of purple vapour against a plain background

Reacting aluminium and iodine

In association with

Illustrate the spectacular reaction between aluminium and iodine with water as a catalyst in this demonstration. Includes kit list and safety instructions.

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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 ...

A close-up, full-frame image of bubbles of different sizes in a purple liquid

Electrolysis of brine

In association with

Use this colourful practical to introduce students to the electrolysis of brine, or sodium chloride solution. Includes kit list and safety instructions.

Molten zinc chloride inside a crucible, with two graphite electrodes

Electrolysis of molten zinc chloride

In association with

Try this demonstration to show how an ionic salt will conduct electricity when molten but not when solid. Includes kit list, video and safety instructions.

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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.

Five silver and yellow AA alkaline batteries against a yellow background

Rechargeable cells: the lead–acid accumulator

In association with

Use this practical to demonstrate the chemistry behind rechargeable batteries, using a lead–acid accumulator cell. Includes kit list and safety instructions.

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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.

A close-up photograph of strands of iron wool burning white, orange and red against a dark background

The combustion of iron wool

In association with

Try this quick teacher demonstration to demonstrate the increase in mass as iron wool is heated in air. Includes kit list and safety instructions.

A photograph of a glass beaker containing a liquid, with a gas visibly rising from the top

Endothermic solid–solid reactions

In association with

Observe an endothermic reaction between two solids in this demonstration or class experiment. Includes kit list and safety instructions.

A close-up enhanced image of a soap bubble against a black background

Exploding bubbles of hydrogen and oxygen

In association with

Create a small explosion in this demonstration by electrolysing water to produce hydrogen and oxygen bubbles. Includes kit list, video and safety instructions.

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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 ...

A macro photograph of the head of an unlit matchstick

Extraction of iron on a match head

In association with

Try this practical as a small scale example of metal extraction, reducing iron(III) oxide with carbon on a match head. Includes kit list and safety instructions.

A photograph showing a highly exothermic thermite explosion against a black background

The thermite reaction between aluminium and iron(III) oxide

In association with

Illustrate a highly exothermic thermite reaction resulting in molten iron in this teacher demonstration. Includes kit list and safety instructions.

A close-up photograph of a sample of black copper(II) oxide on a glass dish

Finding the formula of copper(II) oxide

In association with

Use this class practical with your students to deduce the formula of copper(II) oxide from its reduction by methane. Includes kit list and safety instructions.

Large plastic water bottle required for whoosh bottle demonstration.

The ‘whoosh’ bottle demonstration

In association with

This exciting demonstration is a combustion reaction where a mixture of alcohol and air in a large bottle is ignited. Includes kit list and safety instructions.

A purple-red flame against a black background

A spontaneous exothermic reaction

In association with

Illustrate the reaction between glycerol and potassium manganate(VII) to produce flames and steam in this demonstration. Includes kit list and safety instructions.

A piece of the Group 1 metal sodium in a petri dish against a neutral background

Heating Group 1 metals in air and in chlorine

In association with

Use this demonstration to illustrate the reactions of lithium, sodium and potassium in air and in chlorine. Includes kit list, video and safety instructions.

A 3D rendered illustration of dark and light blue spheres or bubbles against a turquoise background

Generating, collecting and testing gases

In association with

Read our standard guidance on generating, collecting and testing gases during practical experiments, including carbon dioxide, hydrogen, oxygen and chlorine.

An image of a yellow substance dissolving and diffusing in a clear liquid

Diffusion in liquids

In association with

Demonstrate that diffusion takes place in liquids in this practical using lead nitrate and potassium iodide. Includes kit list and safety instructions.