Acid + Base + Kids → This!

Tomorrow we are finishing our year long chemistry course. We studied protons, neutrons, electrons, atoms, elements, molecules, states of matter, density, pH, and lastly neutralization, precipitate, and combustion reactions.  Even though everything was fun and very educational (of course) I think we had the most fun learning about acids and bases.  We certainly had lots of opportunity to play around with them.

First, of course, we had to make our pH solution and our pH indicator strips with purple cabbage and coffee filters.

Then we used our pH solution to test various household substances. On the second photo you can see some of the colors our solution turned after we added stuff like lemon juice, ammonia, soda pop, etc.


We used our pH indicator paper to make beautiful works of art! But of course instead of paint we just used a cup of vinegar and another cup with dissolved baking soda and water.

We took some of our pH solution and added some vinegar (acid) and then some baking soda (base) which of course caused a great chemical reaction all over the table, but then we tried to neutralize it by adding either more vinegar or more baking soda. We tested our solution after each addition (and subsequent bubbly reaction) until we got back to neutral. These are our test strips. After we successfully neutralized our solution we just added a lot of baking soda and vinegar over the sink until we ran out of vinegar.


And we painted (with real paint this time) a pH scale. The kids were also given the pH of certain chemicals and then had to write them in on the scale. At the end they could see how all those different chemicals compared to each other. Here you can see one son in full on lab coat taking his painting very seriously while the other has turned his painting-smock/leftover-Greek-tunic-from-2-years-ago into a super hero cape and is about to fly away! We are ever so studious and serious over here.

And lastly, unless I am forgetting something, we tested the pH of citrus fruits, a grape tomato, and V8, and put our pH strips in order from most acidic to least acidic.


And where there are lemons and limes and my children you end up lots of puckered faces! They say the lemons don’t bother them so much, but the limes make them laugh uncontrollably. It’s kind of funny.


BUT WAIT! Lest you think we are showing off with all of our wonderfully successful chemistry lessons I will let you in on my secret. I didn’t make up any of these lessons. I use R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Chemisty Level 1 from PandiaPress. It is awesome. Every thing is laid out for me and all I have to do is gather the materials. In fact, if I hadn’t planned on taking photos for the blog, I wouldn’t have even lined them up so nice and neat. (I’m just not that nice and neat.) Some days we only worked on our chemistry for 10 minutes! And I think never did we spend more than about 30 minutes at a time. But I feel like the children understand the concepts of what we are learning and having fun (and did I mention understand! my goal as a homeschool teacher is to teach, not to entertain.)

BUT WAIT, AGAIN! Lest you think I am urging you to buy some product and guaranteeing you will be a master scientist I will let you in on my second little secret. I bombed the next experiment and only redeemed myself on the last because it involved fire!

We were combing a calcium (crushed up chalk) and vinegar solution with baking soda water and were trying to create a precipitate (solid) out of the two liquids. And although we did create what looked like carbonated water – although probably tasted like nasty vinegar baking soda water – there was nothing at the bottom of our glass after twenty minutes. In fact, even after I left the glasses out over night and we checked them the next day, all we got was a tiny bit of cloudy white stuff at the bottom the glasses.


But now I do have nasty calcium deposit ring around two of my drinking glasses that is proving hard to get off!

And our last experiment was to burn a dollar bill.  But not really of course because that would be dumb, right? We were supposed to just burn the rubbing alcohol OFF of the dollar bill and then the water, one of the products of the combustion reaction, was supposed to put the fire out. Hm.

No, I didn’t burn my house down. But I did burn my dollar bill. (Angry Face!)  Two thirds of it are perfectly fine, although smell suspiciously of rubbing alcohol. Anyone know if it’s still good to spend? I know it’s only a dollar, but you know, it’s a dollar! I’m not in the habit of throwing money in the garbage.

Oh well! Thank you, Chemistry, it’s been fun. Hello, Physics, here we come!