Adjusting a Types of Reactions Lab for Virtual

heating test tube of copper carbonate over a bunsen burner flame. Text: REACTIONS

Discussing chemical reactions with my students has always been one of my favorite topics because the students got to see the chemistry on a bulk scale. The chemistry on paper comes to life in the lab. The unique teaching situation that we find ourselves in forces chemistry educators to adapt and evolve. This activity by no means replaces the students physically conducting the reactions themselves but during these times this activity can be used to supplement the teaching of chemical reactions.

Students that are in the classroom complete five different reactions, recording before and after observations. After the students complete the reactions in the lab, they balance the reactions and classify them into one of the four main reaction types; synthesis, decomposition, single and double replacement. Students at home complete this virtual version. It takes about 40 minutes to complete.

Download a copy of the following procedure to your Google Drive: Virtual Types of Reactions Lab

If you use Google Classroom, create a copy for every student when you assign the activity. If you do not use Google Classroom, you can force a copy for students. 


balancing equations
double replacement
single replacement
synthesis (combination)
Time required: 

40 minutes


There are four major types of chemical reactions: single replacement, double replacement, synthesis and decomposition. (Not all reactions can be classified this way, but most can.) In a synthesis reaction, two atoms/molecules will combine to form a new, bigger molecule: 

A+B → AB. Decomposition reactions are the reverse of synthesis reactions, where a large molecule can be broken down into smaller fragments; AB → A+B. Single replacement reactions involve the replacement of one element with a more reactive element: AB+C → A+BC. Double replacement reactions involve a switch of two metal ions: AB+CD → AD+CB 


Record observations after each step. Follow the procedure for each reaction. If you are learning at home click the hyperlink to view a video of the reaction.

Reaction #1

  1. Place an evaporating dish next to the burner. 
  2. Using tongs, hold the copper wire in the burner flame for 5 minutes. 
  3. Put any remains in the evaporating dish.
  4. Record your observations below.  

Video 1: Copper wire in air

Reaction #2

  1. Obtain magnesium ribbon and place in the burner flame. 
  2. Record observations. 
  3. Put any remains in the evaporating dish. 

Reaction 2: Mg in air


Reaction #3

  1. Place two spoonfuls of copper (II) carbonate into a clean, dry test tube. 
  2. Using a test tube holder, heat the substance in the burner flame for 5 minutes.
  3.  Extinguish the flame and then insert a burning wood splint into the test tube (...if CO2 is present, the flame will go out).

Heating Copper Carbonate



  1. Add approximately a quarter of a test tube of HCl to a clean test tube in the rack. 
  2. Add a piece of Zinc. Immediately, using a test tube holder, invert another test tube over the mouth of the first test tube to collect the gas that is released. 
  3. After about 30 seconds, remove the inverted test tube and immediately place a burning wood splint inside the inverted, top test tube (A “pop” will indicate the presence of hydrogen gas).

Zinc and Hydrochloric Acid


Reaction #5

  1. Add about a quarter of a test tube of 1M calcium chloride solution to a clean, dry test tube in the rack. 
  2. Add 5 drops of sodium hydroxide to the same test tube. 

calcium chloride and sodium hydroxide



Balance all reaction equations performed in the lab and identify the type of reaction:

REACTION 1:     ___ Cu + ___ O₂ →  ___ CuO 

Type of Reaction: ____________________________________________________


REACTION 2:     ___ Mg + ___O₂  → ___ MgO 

Type of Reaction: ____________________________________________________


REACTION 3:     ___ CuCO3  →  ___ CuO + ___ CO2

Type of Reaction: ____________________________________________________


REACTION 4:     ___ HCl + ___ Zn →  ___ ZnCl2 +  ___ H₂

Type of Reaction: ____________________________________________________


REACTION 5:     ___ CaCl₂   + ___ NaOH  →   ___ NaCl + ___ Ca(OH)₂

Type of Reaction: ____________________________________________________






Share the Google Doc linked above with students.

Videos were submitted by the author and are stored on the ChemEd X Vimeo channel.


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Comments 1

Jordan Smith's picture
Jordan Smith | Wed, 12/16/2020 - 07:24

I used a similar video based lab last spring that Flinn put out and it was a bit too long...they did like 8-10 reactions.  I may try this one instead.  Thank you for sharing!