September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Acids and Bases Lab

Posted: Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

by Jeff Bradbury and Patricia Buchanan

Name ____________________

Date _____________________

Partners’ Name ____________

Question: When using materials to clean our house, are the products used usually acidic or basic, Why do you think so?

Purpose: To determine the importance of acids and bases while measuring the pH of different substances.

Part 1 Introduction:

In this lab you will be working in groups of two.

Acids were first recognized as substances that taste sour (The sour taste of lemons and limes is due to citric acid), will dissolve certain metals, and will dissolve some types of rocks.

Bases were characterized by their bitter taste and slippery feel (Hand soaps and toothpastes, for example).

A neutral solution is neither basic nor acidic.  Acids and bases will react together to form neutral solutions.  One can say that an acid will neutralize a base and vice-versa.

Indicators are substances that change color depending on whether they are in an acidic or basic solution.

In today’s lab you will observe some characteristic chemical and physical properties of acids and bases.


Safety goggles must be worn at all times. Hydrochloric acid, HCl, and acetic acid, HC2H3O2 can harm eyes, skin, and clothing.  Handle with care.  Any acid spilled on the skin or splashed into your eye should be rinsed with a large volume of water. NaOH and NH3(aq) solutions are corrosive to the skin and can harm your eyes.  Any base spilled on the skin or splashed into your eyes should be rinsed with a large volume of water.

Measuring pH with pH (Universal indicator) paper:

In your spot plate, obtain a sample (half-fill the wells) of each of the solutions shown in the table below.  Dip a small (1cm) piece of Universal Indicator paper into each well.  Record the color of the paper and match the color to the pH scale on the tube of paper.

Measuring pH with cabbage juice:

Make sure there is no Universal Indicator paper in the solution wells.  Obtain a piece of purple cabbage (one leaf) from the reagent bench.  Break it up into small pieces and boil it in about 150 ml of de-ionized water in a 250 ml beaker.  Add 15 drops of the cabbage juice extract to each of the wells of your spot plate.  Make sure you add the same amount of extract to each well.  Record the color of each solution.

Complete the table that compares the colors of each pH indicator at each pH

Table 1: Chemicals and their pH

Solution Color of cabbage juice Color of pH paper pH
.1 M HCL
.01 M HCl
.001 M HCl
.1 M NaOH
.01 M NaOH
.001 M NaOH
Orange Juice
Distilled water
Tap water
Lemon juice

Compare your results with others in your group. Re-test those that are different.

Dispose of all solutions into the sink.

Complete the table showing the color of cabbage juice at each pH. 1-14.

Cabbage juice color pH

Acid Base Notes

Properties of Acids and Bases
Chemistry of Acids and Bases

Questions and Answers:

1.       Which substances had different pH’s than you expected?

2.       Why are acids and bases important?

3.       Were the household cleaners basic or acidic or both?

4.       What does pH mean to you now?

Jeff Bradbury is a professor of chemistry at Cerritos College in Norwalk and is community college director for CSTA; Patricia Buchanan is the Cal Grip Grant Project Assistant at Cerritos College. The original idea for this activity came from the Los Angeles County Office of Education 15 years ago, which the authors modified.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

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State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2017 Finalists for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Posted: Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today nominated eight exceptional secondary mathematics and science teachers as California finalists for the 2017 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

“These teachers are dedicated and accomplished individuals whose innovative teaching styles prepare our students for 21st century careers and college and develop them into the designers and inventors of the future,” Torlakson said. “They rank among the finest in their profession and also serve as wonderful mentors and role models.”

The California Department of Education (CDE) partners annually with the California Science Teachers Association and the California Mathematics Council to recruit and select nominees for the PAEMST program—the highest recognition in the nation for a mathematics or science teacher. The Science Finalists will be recognized at the CSTA Awards Luncheon on Saturday, October 14, 2017. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Thriving in a Time of Change

Posted: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

by Jill Grace

By the time this message is posted online, most schools across California will have been in session for at least a month (if not longer, and hat tip to that bunch!). Long enough to get a good sense of who the kids in your classroom are and to get into that groove and momentum of the daily flow of teaching. It’s also very likely that for many of you who weren’t a part of a large grant initiative or in a district that set wheels in motion sooner, this is the first year you will really try to shift instruction to align to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a challenging year – change is hard. Change is even harder when there’s not a playbook to go by.  But as someone who has had the very great privilege of walking alongside teachers going through that change for the past two years and being able to glimpse at what this looks like for different demographics across that state, there are three things I hope you will hold on to. These are things I have come to learn will overshadow the challenge: a growth mindset will get you far, one is a very powerful number, and it’s about the kids. Learn More…

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Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.

If You Are Not Teaching Science Then You Are Not Teaching Common Core

Posted: Thursday, August 31st, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn 

“Science and Social Studies can be taught for the last half hour of the day on Fridays”

– Elementary school principal

Anyone concerned with the teaching of science in elementary school is keenly aware of the problem of time. Kids need to learn to read, and learning to read takes time, nobody disputes that. So Common Core ELA can seem like the enemy of science. This was a big concern to me as I started looking at the curriculum that my district had adopted for Common Core ELA. I’ve been through those years where teachers are learning a new curriculum, and know first-hand how a new curriculum can become the focus of attention- sucking all the air out of the room. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Tools for Creating NGSS Standards Based Lessons

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Elizabeth Cooke

Think back on your own experiences with learning science in school. Were you required to memorize disjointed facts without understanding the concepts?

Science Education Background

In the past, science education focused on rote memorization and learning disjointed ideas. Elementary and secondary students in today’s science classes are fortunate now that science instruction has shifted from students demonstrating what they know to students demonstrating how they are able to apply their knowledge. Science education that reflects the Next Generation Science Standards challenges students to conduct investigations. As students explore phenomena and discrepant events they engage in academic discourse guided by focus questions from their teachers or student generated questions of that arise from analyzing data and creating and revising models that explain natural phenomena. Learn More…

Written by Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke teaches TK-5 science at Markham Elementary in the Oakland Unified School District, is an NGSS Early Implementer, and is CSTA’s Secretary.

News and Happenings in CSTA’s Region 1 – Fall 2017

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Marian Murphy-Shaw


This month I was fortunate enough to hear about some new topics to share with our entire region. Some of you may access the online or newsletter options, others may attend events in person that are nearer to you. Long time CSTA member and environmental science educator Mike Roa is well known to North Bay Area teachers for his volunteer work sharing events and resources. In this month’s Region 1 updates I am happy to make a few of the options Mike offers available to our region. Learn More…

Written by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw is the student services director at Siskiyou County Office of Education and is CSTA’s Region 1 Director and chair of CSTA’s Policy Committee.