Especially JCE: June 2017

June 2017 JCE issue

Erica Jacobsen shares highlights from the June 2017 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education that are of special interest to high school chemistry teachers.

Reduction of Permanganate Ion by Acids in Rhubarb, Apples, and Candy


If rhubarb stem is placed in a solution of permanganate, the purple permanganate ion is reduced to the colorless Mn2+ ion. It is thought that the oxalic acid present in rhubarb causes this reduction. The investigations presented in this post provide evidence that this may not be the whole story...

Demonstration: Reaction of Magnesium and Silver Nitrate

Starting materials for demonstration

I found a version of this demonstration online a couple of years ago. I admit, when I first tried it with my class it was mostly for a crowd pleaser to demonstrate the activity series of metals, but I then became very intrigued by the processes occurring. The original source only referenced the “single replacement reaction” between Mg(s) and AgNO3(aq). Therefore, when I saw a grayish product (silver) I was not surprised. However, I was surprised by the white flash and the production of a white product, which were reminiscent of the classic combustion of magnesium demonstration. This led to some research and my conclusions that follow. Read through to the end and you will find a video of the demo.

Time required: 

30 minutes including preparation time.

Electrolytic Dissolution of Copper Metal

Looking for an easy, hands-on experiment to use in your classroom at the beginning of the school year? In the June, 2013 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education, Isao Ikemoto and Kouichi Saitou describe a simple experiment to demonstrate the electrolytic dissolution of copper ions from a copper electrode. This experiment can be conducted using only items that are easily obtained around the home or in grocery stores.

Energizer Lab

Students proceed through a prior knowledge activity, practice creating and using a voltaic cell and use of a model designed to simulate the particulate level activity within a voltaic cell. The teacher checks for student understanding at specific points as groups work together. A discussion follows to help clarify ideas.

Time required: 

About one 60 minute class period for lab and manipulative procedure.