Laboratory Activities

Each of the "three easy gases" (carbon dioxide, hydrogen and oxygen) makes a good one or two period laboratory activity for high school and university students.

In addition, we have developed EIGHT lab experiments involving gases that can be used to teach specific topics in chemistry.


MICROSCALE FORMATION OF IRON LAB. A glass pipet containing some iron(III) oxide is heated while a stream of hydrogen is passed through the pipet. The elemental iron formed is attracted to a magnet held near the pipet.

MICROSCALE REACTION BETWEEN COPPER(II) OXIDE AND HYDROGEN. A glass pipet containing some copper wool is heated while a stream of air is passed through the pipet. The elemental copper turns black due to copper(II) oxide. Next, hydrogen is passed through the pipet with continued heating. The black copper(II) oxide is converted to shiny elemental copper metal.

MYSTERY GAS. Students are given samples of three gases that they have previously studied in the laboratory: carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and oxygen. They design a set of experiments from their previously experiences in order to identify the three gases.

PERCENT COMPOSITION. This group laboratory activity experiment utilizes everyone’s data to give an overall group result that demonstrates the concept of percent composition. A group graph is produced and used by each pair of students in order to determine the percent composition of a Tums tablet.

CARBONATED BEVERAGES - PRIESTLEY'S SODA WATER. Students (a) determine the carbon dioxide in a carbonated beverage and (b) produce their own carbonated water. The unit includes two classroom demonstrations: (a) carbonated water and tap water are frozen and compared and (b) the carbonic acid - carbon dioxide equilibrium us demonstrated.

MOLAR MASS OF A GAS. The molar mass of almost any gas can be determined with excellent accuracy. The experiment can easily be completed within a single laboratory period.

LIMITING REAGENT. This group laboratory activity uses everyones data to demonstrate the concept of limiting reagent. Varying amounts of magnesium are reacted with standard amounts of dilute hydrochloric acid.

BAROMETRIC PRESSURE WITHOUT A BAROMETER. No barometer? No problem! This group laboratory activity uses everyones data to determine the actual barometric pressure (not altitude-adjusted like one gets from the US Weather Service).