Students combine sodium carbonate and hydrochloric acid generating carbon dioxide gas which is allowed to escape. They measure the actual yield of carbon dioxide produced (missing mass), calculate the theoretical yield using stoichiometry, and then the percent yield. Students understand that 100% yield is the most appropriate answer (based on the Law of Conservation of Mass), so after considering the meaning of significant figures and the uncertainty of their measurements they are asked to decide if they did (or did not) get an answer that might indicate the validity of the Law.
This lab was written as part of the Target Inquiry program at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. Students build an electrochemical cell, learn about the symbolic equations used in electrochemistry and manipulate a model representing the particulate level of what is happening during the electrochemical process.