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LAB in Observations, Chemical Change, Net Ionic Equation, Reduction, Activity Series, Redox Reaction, Oxidation. Last updated February 5, 2019.


In this lab, students will use the activity series to verify the outcome of a chemical reaction.

Grade Level

High school


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

  • Predict the products of a reaction on the basis of the activity series.
  • Write net ionic equations.

Chemistry Topics

This lesson supports students’ understanding of:

  • Activity series
  • Chemical changes
  • Oxidation
  • Reduction
  • Net ionic equations


Teacher Preparation: 15 minutes

Lesson: 45 minutes


  • CuCl2, 5 g
  • Balance
  • NaCl, 5 g
  • Aluminum foil, 10 1-in square pieces
  • Water, 100 ml
  • Beaker (2)
  • Graduated cylinder
  • Scoopula (2)


  • Always wear safety goggles when working in a lab.
  • Copper(II) chloride is toxic. Wear gloves when handling copper(II) chloride.
  • 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.

Teacher Notes

  • I find this lab helps students understand the purpose of the activity series and how to interpret it.
  • Students will mix solutions of copper (II) chloride and sodium chloride and will then record observations about the two solutions and the aluminum chloride.

  • They will then add the aluminum foil to the two solutions and record observations. Students will quickly see that the aluminum reacts with the copper (II) chloride solution. Evidence of this is the appearance of copper metal, the production of heat, and the formation of a gas. They will not see a reaction between the aluminum and the sodium chloride.

For the Student



Electrochemical reactions are driven by the spontaneous transfer of electrons from more active metals to less active ones. In this lab you will investigate the electrochemical replacement of aluminum atoms by Cu2+ and Na+.


[students complete themselves]


  • Always wear safety goggles when working in a lab setting.
  • Copper(II) chloride is toxic. Wear gloves when handling copper(II) chloride. When you are finished, dispose of all copper(II) chloride in designated containers.


  • CuCl2, 5 g
  • Balance
  • NaCl, 5 g
  • Aluminum foil, 10 1-in pieces
  • Water, 100 ml
  • Beaker (2)
  • Graduated cylinder
  • Scoopula, (2)


1. Mass about 5 g of copper(II) chloride in a small beaker.
2. Mass about 5 g of sodium chloride in a second small beaker.
3. Use graduated cylinder to add 50 mL water to each beaker.
4. Swirl to dissolve the solid copper (II) chloride and sodium chloride.
5. Get about 10 1-inch square pieces of aluminum foil.
6. Make observations about the solutions and foil.
7. Put 4 or 5 aluminum foil pieces into each beaker. Observe what happens.


Chemical Before After
Copper(II) chloride
Sodium chloride


1. Describe and compare the reaction in each beaker.
2. From your knowledge of the activity series, explain your results. Make reference to each beaker in this explanation.

For questions 4–7, consider the reaction between copper(II) chloride and aluminum.

3. Write the general skeleton reaction.
4. Write the balanced reduction half reaction.
5. Write the balanced oxidation half reaction.
6. Write the balanced redox reaction.
7. Give an example of another metal and/or salt that would result in a reaction.
8. For the example used in number 8, write the balanced redox equation to show the chemistry that occurred between your choices. Indicate the oxidation states and half reactions.