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10 High School Science Lab Experiments - Chemistry

Ginelle Testa
April 18, 2023

Chemistry plays a crucial role in understanding the world around us, as it is involved in everything from the formation of new compounds and materials to the processes that sustain life. There are so many high school lab experiment options available! We’ve identified both in-person and virtual labs.

Here are the topics we’ve covered:

  • Acids & bases
  • Metallic characteristics
  • Reaction types
  • Separation techniques
  • Hydrogen gas/fuel

Acids & bases

In-person lab: Cabbage Juice pH Indicator

Students extract a pigment called anthocyanin from red cabbage to create a natural pH indicator. The cabbage juice changes color based on the pH of a solution, turning red in acidic solutions, purple in neutral solutions, and green/yellow in alkaline solutions. Students test household substances to observe color changes and learn about acids, bases, and pH levels.

Virtual lab: Acids and Bases (Principles): Avoid falling in a lake of acid!

Students will get help from a robot assistant to determine the acidity of a lake of acid found on an exoplanet. They’ll learn how to quantify the acidity and alkalinity of substances. 

Learning how to quantify the acidity and alkalinity of substances in a virtual lab.

Metallic characteristics 

In-person lab: Flame test

Students can learn about the characteristic colors emitted by different metal ions when heated in a flame. This can be done by dipping a metal wire or wooden splint into a solution of metal salt and then holding it in the flame of a Bunsen burner.

Virtual lab: Introduction to Qualitative Analysis of Elements

Let’s fire up the elements! In this simulation, students will learn all the fundamentals of the periodic table. They’ll find out which elements have metallic characteristics, perform a flame test, and explore some of the trends in atomic properties among the main groups and periods.

Testing metallics from the periodic table in a virtual lab.

Reaction types

In-person lab: Copper cycle reactions: 

Starting with elemental copper, the cycle involves oxidation, precipitation, dissolution, and reduction reactions, ultimately returning to elemental copper. This experiment is used to teach students about reaction types, stoichiometry, and the conservation of mass in chemical processes.

Virtual lab: Redox Reactions: Discover how batteries work!

Oh no! The electric car has broken down. Can students build their own battery to get moving again? Discover the chemical reactions that power batteries by finding oxidation numbers, balancing redox reactions, and experimenting with redox reactions in the lab, then make a recommendation to a virtual friend about whether to replace his worn-out lead-acid battery with a new lithium-ion one.

Redox reactions in a virtual lab.

Separation techniques

In-person lab: Extraction of plant pigments using paper chromatography

This experiment involves separating the different pigments present in a plant, such as spinach or a flower petal, using a solvent and filter paper. The procedure allows students to observe the various pigments that make up the color of the plant material, and it introduces them to the concept of chromatography as a separation technique.

Virtual lab: Separating Mixtures: Using distillation to concentrate ethanol

In this simulation, students will help a town concentrate ethanol in order to support them during their fuel shortage crisis. They’ll learn how to separate a homogeneous mixture of liquids.

Using distillation to concentrate ethenol in a virtual lab.

Hydrogen gas/fuel

In-person lab: Making and testing hydrogen gas

Students can generate hydrogen gas by reacting a small piece of zinc or magnesium with dilute hydrochloric acid. They can then test the gas by igniting it with a burning splint, observing the characteristic "pop" sound produced by the combustion of hydrogen.

Virtual lab: Electrolysis

Students will learn how to assemble an electrolytic cell and modify it for different
applications. They’ll start by building a simple electrolytic cell and then learn about the reactions that take place during electrolysis. They’ll apply their knowledge to modify the electrolytic cell to make fuel for a Mars rover with hydrogen and to give mini Dr. One a new gold coating. 

Questions for reflection

  • Were any of these in-person or virtual labs new ideas for you?
  • Which one can you implement in your classroom?
Are you excited by the idea of virtual labs? Check out our catalog of over 300 simulations and our free 30-day all-access educator’s pass. 
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