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Determining Physical and Chemical Properties (7 Favorites)

LAB in Observations, Physical Properties, Chemical Change, Physical Change, Chemical Properties. Last updated August 4, 2021.


Summary

In this lab, students will determine the physical and chemical properties of several different substances through testing and observation. Additionally, they will further their understanding of chemical and physical changes, and their ability to recognize each type of change.

Grade Level

High School

NGSS Alignment

This lab will help prepare your students to meet the performance expectations in the following standards:

  • Scientific and Engineering Practices:
    • Engaging in Argument from Evidence

Objectives

By the end of this lab, students should be able to:

  • Determine the physical and properties of substances.
  • Identify when a physical change occurs to a substance.
  • Recognize if a chemical change has occurred by observing evidence.
  • Distinguish between a physical and chemical property.
  • Differentiate between a physical and chemical change.

Chemistry Topics

This lab supports students’ understanding of:

  • Physical Properties
  • Physical Changes
  • Chemical Properties
  • Chemical Changes
  • Observations

Time

Teacher Preparation: 30 minutes
Lesson: 45-60 minutes

Materials (per group)

  • Baking Soda (NaHCO3), ≈ 1 tsp.
  • Sand (SiO2), ≈ 1 tsp.
  • Poppy Seeds (CwHxNyOz), ≈ 1 tsp.
  • Iron Filings (Fe), ≈ 1 tsp.
  • Magnesium ribbon (Mg), ≈ 2 in.
  • Silver nitrate (AgNO3), 0.2M, several drops
  • Small Bathroom cups, 7
  • Small magnet (put in a snack bag), 1
  • Beaker, 250 mL
  • Bunsen burner
  • Striker
  • Crucible tongs
  • Ceramic tile
  • Stirring rod

Safety

  • Always wear safety goggles when handling chemicals in the lab.
  • Students should wash their hands thoroughly before leaving the lab.
  • When students complete the lab, instruct them how to clean up their materials and dispose of any chemicals.
  • Always use caution around open flames. Keep flames away from flammable substances.
  • Always be aware of an open flame. Avoid reaching over the open flame, tie back hair, and secure loose clothing.
  • An operational fire extinguisher should be in the classroom.
  • Reference SDS documents linked in the Materials section.

Teacher Notes

  • Review the safety guidelines for this lab before students begin. Ask students what hazards are present in this lab and have a short discussion about how to mitigate them.
  • Warn students to handle the silver nitrate with care, as it will stain their skin.
  • Set up two waste containers, using large beakers. Label one for dry solid waste and one for wet waste.
  • Give students the following directions before they begin:
    • Do not remove the magnet from the bag.
    • Dispose of the waste in the labeled beakers on the counter. One is labeled for dry solid waste and one for wet waste.
  • If you do not have enough materials for each group to have a complete set, you can set this up as a station lab. If you do it as a station lab, give your students the following instructions:
    • Make sure that the Bunsen burner and gas are shut off before moving to another station.
    • Clean up each station before moving on to another station. This includes disposing the waste and cleaning the glassware.
    • Keep your goggles and apron on as you move from station to station.
  • Data from this lab can be used in the lab Separation of a Mixture.
  • An Answer Key document is available to download.

For the Student

Lesson

Background

A PROPERTY of a substance is any characteristic or quality or trait that can be observed or measured. We can describe properties as either chemical or physical and the two are determined in different ways. The table below shows how the type of property is determined and gives several examples of each.

PHYSICAL PROPERTIES CHEMICAL PROPERTIES
Can be measured or observed without chemically changing the substance. You determine if a substance reacts with another substance form something new.
Mass
Density
Color
Temperature
Odor
Volume
Boiling Point
Melting Point
Size or Mass
Solubility
Does it react with water?
Does it react with oxygen?
Does it react with acids?
Is it flammable?
Does it corrode or decompose?

Purpose

The purpose of this lab is to determine the physical and chemical properties of several different substances through testing and observation.

Materials (per group)

  • Baking Soda (NaHCO3)
  • Sand (SiO2)
  • Poppy Seeds (CwHxNyOz)
  • Iron Filings (Fe)
  • Magnesium ribbon (Mg)
  • Silver nitrate (AgNO3)
  • Small Bathroom cups
  • Small magnet (put in a snack bag)
  • Beaker, 250 mL
  • Bunsen burner
  • Striker
  • Crucible tongs
  • Ceramic tile
  • Stirring rod

Safety

  • Always wear safety goggles when handling chemicals in the lab.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before leaving the lab.
  • When you complete the lab, follow the disposal instruction on the data sheet.
  • Always use caution around open flames. Keep flames away from flammable substances.
  • Always be aware of an open flame. Avoid reaching over the open flame, tie back hair, and secure loose clothing.

Part 1: Physical and Chemical Properties of Common Items

Baking Soda Sand (Quartz) Poppy Seeds* Iron Filings Chemical or Physical Property?
Chemical Formula NaHCO3 SiO2 CwHxNyOz Fe
Element (E) or Compound (C)?
Describe the appearance of each item (state, color, shape, texture).
Does it have an odor (WAFT please!)?
Is there any evidence that it reacts with air (oxygen)?
Slowly wave the magnet (leave it in plastic bag) over sample. Is it attracted to the magnet?
Put a very small amount on an evaporating dish and add a few drops of water.  Does it dissolve?
Is there any evidence that it reacted with the water?
If it does not dissolve or react, does it sink or float?
Put a small amount on an evaporating dish. Add a few drops of acid. Is there any evidence of a reaction?

*Poppy Seeds contain different organic compounds that are referred to as alkaloid compounds.

Part 2

Make observations and answer questions for each substance.

Calcium Metal (Ca) Element or Compound?
List at least three (3) physical properties that you observe:
Use forceps to place about 5 pieces of calcium to 100 mL of TAP water.  Does it react?  If so, cite evidence on the right. Feel the beaker – any temperature change?  If so, was it an exo- or endothermic change?
Did you observe a physical or chemical change?
Calcium is a silver metal. Chemical or physical property?
Magnesium Metal (Mg) Element or Compound?
List at least three (3) physical properties that you observe:
Light Bunsen burner. Use crucible tongs to hold a strip of magnesium in flame. When it begins to burn carefully move it over the ceramic tile. DO NOT STARE INTO BURNING MAGNESIUM. When it stops burning put product on ceramic tile and observe the appearance.

Describe appearance of product:

Did you observe a physical or chemical change?
If it was a chemical change, cite ALL evidence on the right.
Table Salt – Sodium Chloride (NaCl) Element or Compound?
List at least three (3) physical properties that you observe:
Use scoopula to add a small amount of NaCl to 100 mL of TAP water. Stir with stirring rod.

Does it dissolve?
How do you know?
Add about 10 drops of silver nitrate (AgNO3) to the salt solution. Record your observations.

Was this a chemical or physical change?
If it was a chemical change, cite ALL evidence on the right.