The High School Laboratory
Teacher Recommended and Developed and/or Requested Demonstrations,
Labs and Laboratory Resources


(See the Holiday Labs Contributed too)



Fall '06

Please note that we have received temporary authorization to post these labs until they are available
to teachers on CD as the documents are no longer available online in the Foundation archives.





Email Suggested Demonstrations and Experiments to for posting.


  •                                    ~ P.M., Indiana
    This is George Bodner's page, and it is wonderful. You have a choice of small or large size quick-time videos for each demo along with the appropriate equations for each.     
  •   ~ P. M., Indiana
    Here is George's paper on exocharmic reactions. It was in the journal of the Royal Society last year.          
  • Scientific Observation - AKA The Raisin Thing (pdf file)  ~J.B., California
    I open my classes with this simple demonstration which brings home the importance of accurately describing a scientific observation.                                                                             
  • Lecture Demos, U of Illinois - These are fabulous video lecture demonstrations which are available in quicktime, Windows media player or still  .jpg files from the Learning Center of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • The Science Room Teacher Demonstrations (most of these are rather dangerous!) Howe High School, Howe, OK
    We share these for use by Qualified Science Educators Only. Some have inherent safety problems that must be provided for. We have room for the demonstration outline only. You must assume the responsibility for the safety and success of your own demonstration.
    Semester I Demonstrations     Semester II Demonstrations   
    **No Longer Accessible 3-07


Acids and Bases
  • Alka Seltzer Rainbow - ChemFax Demonstration (Contact Flinn Scientific)
  • ANTacid - Acids and Bases Activity
    This is very cute and fun for lower chemistry levels and can get the kids out of the classroom on a nice day.  Students make their own indicator paper and test ants for formic acid. This can be planned as a two-day activity with a shortened day schedule.
  • Buffer Balancing Acts - ChemFax Demonstration (Contact Flinn Scientific)
  • Quality Control at the Pickle Factory  ~P.M., Indiana
    I will be discussing titrations and acid/base stoichiometry with my AP Chem classes in the next few weeks. I have found the following URL for labs entitled Quality Control at the Pickle Factory
  • Soap Making (MS Word doc file)          ~SJS, New Hampshire 
    I asked our General Chemistry lab director Jeudi Davis [] if she would share her new soap lab that I remembered her raving about with respect to how well it works, and what a nice soap it makes. She graciously sent it along.   There is a story with this lab: One of our chemistry majors, Juan Cueva, is from Ecuador, and when he went home for Christmas break, knowing that Jeudi was looking for a better soap lab, he found an old soap-making book, and copied the recipe used in this lab.  Of course he translated the directions from the original Spanish, and had to make major adjustments of scale in order for it to work as a lab.   He also found that the pH of the fresh product was very high--12--and followed that with time, finding that it finally dropped to pH 8 after a week or more.
        SAFETY CONCERNS:  I still have some safety/health concerns about anyone's doing this with high school students, since it uses NaOH as a 50% by weight solution, and that as you are well aware is a very dangerous substance, especially vs. the eyes.  Jeudi says that she uses a pump dispenser set to deliver the proper amount, so that there is little to no splashing, and students are not pouring the solution.   We do not know how it would work using a weaker NaOH solution.   For high school students, it would probably be wise to have the teacher dispense the NaOH directly into the students' melted coconut oil.
        The high pH of the finished product also needs some very careful supervision too, of course.  IMPORTANT:  The next day, remove the soaps from the mini-muffin pans and  invert  the soaps onto suitable plastic dishes so that the surface formerly in the pan will be on top.  Do not touch the wet surface, since the wet film is the very strong NaOH solution.  Disposable plastic gloves could help a lot here if the students are to do this step.  An iron rule that the product is not to be used  for three weeks after preparation would also seem to be prudent, since the pH was around 9 even a week or two after the original synthesis.    The following of the pH with time could be a useful exercise, involving a personal appreciation for the kinetics of organic reactions, as well as the pH measuring aspect itself.
        MATERIALS:  Coconut oil can be purchased at a health foods or "organic" store.  We use 50% w/w NaOH rather than the pellets, which can be tricky to dissolve.   She and Juan tried many different recipes from various lab manuals  and soap-making books, but this one has a huge advantage of simplicity, not requiring mixtures of oils, fats, etc., or further chemicals, e.g. alcohol.    They found that other recipes using peanut oil [a dangerous allergen for some people] lard, etc. produced very poor soaps, as well as being complex to use.                                                                                                                                    

  • Tie-Dying Activity and others as available Contact Flinn Scientific - (Contact Flinn Scientific)
Atomic and Molecular Structure               
Chemical Analysis
Chemical Bonds
  • Patterns in Electron Configurations and the Periodic Table  ~ C. J., Texas
    (right click to download this Word Document)
    I use this worksheet to help the students find periodic patterns in electron configuration.  I originally used a longer version, but found that this brought them to the same conclusions in less time.  I do this after covering the concept of electron configuration using an energy chart to determine the orbital order.  Then, I tell them that they don't have to memorize the chart because the periodic table tells them the correct order to use.  You'll need a periodic table that shows the valence configuration (many textbooks have this on the cover).  After the students work through the activity in groups, we discuss the results as a class.  I hope it helps!                            
  • Molecular Geometry Worksheet - (Marshmallow Lab)  Worksheet Key   ~J.B., California 
    I do a Molecular Geometry Lab using large marshmallows (central atom), small  marshmallows (substituent atoms) and toothpicks (bonds) to get the kids involved in 3-D manipulation and application of VSEPR..  I lead the students through construction of each of the basic structures and the resulting structures due the existence of unbonded electron pairs in the lab activity form. Students then use the form  as a study guide.                                                      
  • Polarity Activities ~ P.M., Indiana
    (right click to download this Word Document)
    Contains three activities; 1) solubility in different solvents 2) capillary action  3) hydrogen bonding
  • IR Spectrophotometry Activity - ~J.B., California
    Versions A, B and C  (MS Word)
  • This IR Spec Activity is based on actual data I collected.  Students are to plot the absorbance and frequency readings and compare peaks (pointing down) to the given chart identifying the bond in their unknown substance and then comparing them with the three possible structures.  The answers are in hidden text at the top of the page.
Chemical Equilibrium
Chemical Thermodynamics
Conservation of Matter and Stoichiometry
  • Sweet 16 Chemistry Compound Tournament (Contact Flinn Scientific)
  • Sweet 16 Chemistry Ion Tournament (Contact Flinn Scientific)
  • Candy Cane Lab  ~  Holiday Lab
    Construction of Varigated Disaccharide "J" Tubes                      ~ J.S., Indiana
  •  "Keep You Eye on the Ions"-Double Replacement Model Demonstration  (Contact Flinn Scientific)    
  • Peanut Brittle Lab ~  Holiday Lab
    Partial Thermal Degradation of Carbon Dioxide formed Disaccharides with Protein Inclusions                                                         ~J.B., California  via  J.J., Florida
    AKA Peanut Brittle Lab (MS Word)
    My students LOVE this lab which is traditionally done on the last day prior to Winter Break. I tell them nothing, handout the procedure and label each of the reagents on the counter for them to weigh out and carefully measure.  I do my very best to obscure the identity of the reagents (even tried dying the "protein inclusions" didn't work).  
  • Popcorn Labs
  • Popcorn Labs as found on the internet February 2003 per member request.
  • S'Mores:  An Introduction to Chemical Equations, Stoichiometry and Limiting Reactants  
    (doc file) (pdf file) (wps file)
    One of my students' favorite labs is the S'mores lab (attached).  It applies to balancing equations, mole ratios, stoichiometry, & limiting reactants. I use it as an intro to get the concepts of stoichiometry across.  We roast marshmallows over Bunsen burners --use no normal lab equipment, that way they can eat them.  That, of course, is why it is their favorite lab.  They also generally understand the calculations.
  • Electrochemistry:  Electroplating, Coloring and Etching of Metals (pdf file)  
    Holiday Lab

    This is from Wellesley College and is quite nicely written.
  • Electroplating Zinc on Copper (MSWord)        ~ R.A., Texas
    Holiday Lab

    Upon completion of this lab you should be able to describe the process of electroplating, identify the anode and cathode and what is occurring at each in terms of oxidation and reduction, identify the products of electroplating, write balanced half-reactions representing what is happening at each of the electrodes, predict changes in mass and concentration over time, and propose explanations for these changes, diagram the electroplating system, identifying the components, the cathode and the anode, the positive and negative poles, flow of electrons and the flow of ions.  A GREAT HOLIDAY LAB!  

    (NOTE:  The copper surface can be cleaned with vinegar and salt to avoid  using nitric acid if you do not have a hood, and designs can be drawn directly on the metal surface using a Sharpie permanent marker which can be removed after plating with isopropyl alcohol to avoid having to use single-edged razor blades and masking tape - JFB)
Gases and Their Properties
Mole Concept     
  • Molarity :  Kool Aide Lab  ~ P.M., Indiana
    Teaching Molarity through a Taste Test (Non lab environment)
Nuclear Processes
Organic and Biochemistry
Reaction Rates
  • Freezing Point Depression Lab     (pdf file)     ~B.H., Indiana
    Freezing Point Depression Lab (MW Word Document)
    I have attached a lab that I use with my 2nd year chem students.  If you accept pretty lousy numerical results (percent errors as high as 50% or more), it's OK.  It lets them calculate a molar mass from a freezing point depression without working with toxic chemicals.  By the way, because of the long time required to measure the melting curve, I usually have 1 lab team do the pure water and another do the solution.  They exchange data afterward. 
  • Ice Cream in a Baggie     ~J.P., California
    (pdf file)
    Standard Freezing Point Lab - simple recipe calls for the use of a zip-loc bag within a zip-loc bag.
  • More Recommended Ice Cream Labs:
    Finding Science in Ice Cream - Complete with History and Full Food Science Vocabulary - University of Guelph, Ontario

    Salt:  The Essence of Life - Chemical Reactions of NaCl - Excellent chemistry concept applications 
    ~D.B., Indiana
    I especially like the food science link because it discusses terms like stabilizer, emulsion, hydrophobic, flocculate. I use the article in a physical science class. I pass the article out in a lab where we make ice cream using baggies. As a homework assignment students take the article home and make lists of the words they don't understand and then look up and write down the definitions. Even with a dictionary, not all the definitions are comprehensible so we then discuss the meanings of the words in our next class. Sometimes I'll even do follow on activities where ingredients are omitted to see what effect that has on the resulting product from a chemistry point of view (everyone knows a priori that ice cream without sugar tastes awful but they don't always know what effect it has on the consistency of the final product - so one might try artificial sweetener instead of sugar for example). Students enjoy the lab activity because it relates technical things to something they know about, and more important, it relates to something they like.  I especially like the ice cream lab because it makes a good way to transition from physical properties/ thermodynamics to chemistry. 

  • We All Scream for Ice Cream! Chemistry Lab Experiment (MS Word) ~E.K., New Jersey
    I do this ice cream lab with my students each year to celebrate Mole Day.  We use zip-lock bags filled with milk, sugar, and vanilla mixture which we put into water-tight refrigerator plastic jars filled with ice and salt.  The students roll the jar back-and-forth on the tables between them until the mixture in the bag freezes.  It takes about 15 minutes if done correctly. 

              ~ Author Unknown, Unknown Submitter       


Teacher Recommended Labs

  • Flinn Scientific Labs (permission granted for Chemistry Teacher Support Group~March 2007)
    (Contact Flinn Scientific for these available materials)
  • Alka Seltzer Rainbow - ChemFax Demonstration
  • Buffer Balancing Acts - ChemFax Demonstration
  • Disappearing Aluminum Can
  • "Keep You Eye on the Ions"-Double Replacement Model Demonstration
  • Second Quarter Laboratory Evaluation:  Analysis of Alka Seltzer
  • Sweet 16 Chemistry Compound Tournament
  • Sweet 16 Chemistry Ion Tournament
  • Science in Motion Online Labs ~P.M., Indiana
     just found the unbelieveable list of lab links on the web.  I feel I hit the jackpot on this one.  I hope you can use it too!                                                                                                                    

  • All My Labs (MS Word doc file)  ~E.R., Texas
    I'm including eleven labs that I have set up for my chemistry classes along with some teacher information for them. I hope it's helpful.  Look through them, I make a lot of speeling mistakes, uh spelling mistakes.  And try them out first, as always.  I'm enjoying all the information and figured I should try to add something.                                                                                                  

    1.    Physical and Chemical Changes
    2.    Measurement and Density
    3.    Atomic Structure
    4.    Half-Life Simulation
    5.    Formula Writing and Chemical Names
    6.    Waters of Crystallization
    7.    Mass Relations in a Chemical Reaction
    8.    Changes in Physical State
    9.    Ideal Gas Law
    10.  Solubility Curve of a Salt
    11.  Neutralization and Titration with Acid and Base
  • High School Lessons and Experiments - Rohm and Haas Company: provides lesson plans and experiments in HTML or PDF format for topics in biology, environmental science, chemistry, physical science, and physics. The chemistry labs cover biodegradability, a comparison of liquids, chromatography, pollution, oxidation, adhesion, and esters.

Lab Practicals

The Ten Solution Problem and Student Evaluation Form     ~R.A., Texas
and Evaluation Rubric  (MS Word doc)

We do a quarter long project with our honors kids that basically does this for ten solutions.  I am enclosing the handouts for that.  We make them come up with everything they might need.  They must do the majority of the project on their own time, with only a few lab periods devoted to it in class.   
Teacher note: We pretty much choose seven to ten†soluble ionic salts that we have lots of in the stock†room!† We†use 0.25 to 0.5 M solutions, depends on the stock we have.† I am enclosing our evaluation rubric that we used that has the identities of the solutions we used some year, not sure which one.† We switched it this year to have set ups with dropping bottles of all the solutions, ten sets.† That way we could have no more than ten groups working at the same time.† Before we tried to give each group their own chemicals in pipettes.† Got too crazy with refills.                                                                                                                                               

Lab Final

High School Chemistry Lab Final with Excel Spreadsheet    ~H.O., California
 (Zip file - Word and Excel documents)
The lab attached is determining the molarity of an HCl solution using calcium carbonate.  I like this as a cumulative lab experience because students have to come up with their own procedure, determine the reaction that occurs and calculate a quantitative answer.  It also allows me to assign a different molarity to each lab group so they can't fake their data.  Students really like it because they get to work together (groups of 3) and most do very well.  To help in grading I created an Excel spreadsheet that does the student calculations.  I plugged in their data, and could check their calculations quickly.  It also allowed me to make sure no more than three students had the same data.  I've attached both the lab and the Excel sheet with some actual data from a couple of years ago (some good, some not so good.)