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Name: __________________

Indicator Solution - seeing a reversible chemical reaction
Topic: Chemistry
Before we start:

What is an Acid and what is Base?
I think an acid is …

I think a base is …

Aim: To make an indicator solution, which changes colour when it is mixed
with an acid or a base.
Materials: You will need

Half of a fresh red cabbage – finely sliced (which is actually purple)

hot water

2 large plastic bottles

a strainer

a funnel

disposable plastic cups

droppers or syringes

an acid, such as lemon juice (bottled lemon juice works well) or vinegar

a base, such as bicarbonate of soda

other household chemicals, such as cleaners, coffee, soapy water

Caution: This activity uses hot water and household chemicals. Please
ensure that you take care to not splash or spill these on yourself or your
classmates.

Method: What to do
To make your indicator solution: (Bottle for whole class)
1. Take a small handful of finely slice red cabbage
leaves.
2. Place the sliced cabbage in a plastic bottle.
3. Half fill the bottle with hot water and screw the lid on
tightly.
4. Swirl the bottle around and then unscrew the lid just enough to let the
pressure out (you have just heated the air and made it expand).
Tighten the lid again.
5. Shake the bottle for a few minutes until the water becomes a deep
purple colour.
6. Leave the solution to cool.
7. Now strain the solution into the other bottle and add enough water to
the solution to make about one litre.
To make bicarbonate of soda solution: (For whole class)
1. Make a solution of bicarbonate of soda (one and half teaspoonfuls to
one cup of water)
To use your indicator (Each group)
1. Place a small amount of lemon juice in a cup. (Less than 1mm in the
cup).
2. Place a small amount of bicarbonate of soda solution in another cup.
(Less than 1mm in the cup).
3. Add the indicator solution to each cup until they are less than one
quarter full.
4. Observe and record the colour of the solution.
5. Now add a small amount of lemon juice to the cup with the bicarbonate
of soda and indicator solution. What happens to the colour of the
solution? Repeat this several times.
6. Try testing 7 other substances. As well as liquids, you can also test
solids that dissolve in water. You could try tap water, salty water,
ammonia, baking soda, cola, tooth paste, detergent, milk, coffee, tea,

orange juice, pickles, vinegar, window cleaner and other household
cleaners.

Results: What did you observe?
Material
Lemon juice

Bicarbonate of
soda

Bicarbonate of
soda + lemon
juice
Bicarbonate of
soda + extra
lemon juice

Observation

Conclusion: Can you explain what happened? & Why?

pH Scale
Colour

Red

Classification

Strong acid

pH scale

1

Purple

2

3

Blue

Green

Yellow

Neutral
4

5

6

7

8

Strong base
9

10

11

12

Using the table above can you order the materials you tested from most
acidic (lowest pH) to most basic or alkaline (highest pH).
Material

Classification

Approx. pH

13

14

Evaluation: What worked well & what didn’t? If you were doing this again,
would you do anything differently?

What have you learnt? Has your thinking changed?

Use a computer to answer these research questions:
What is acid rain? How is it caused? What detrimental effects does it have on the
environment?

Science Challenge questions
1. After adding the indicator solution to the cup with the lemon juice, what colour did the
solution go?
a) red
b) blue
c) green
2. After adding the indicator solution to the cup with the bicarbonate of soda, what colour did
the solution go?
a) red
b) blue
c) green
3.
a)
b)
c)

Which of the liquids had the lowest pH?
lemon juice
bicarbonate of soda
they have the same pH

4.
a)
b)
c)

Which of the liquids had the highest pH?
lemon juice
bicarbonate of soda
they have the same pH

5.
a)
b)
c)

This means that
Lemon juice is neutral and bicarbonate of soda is a base
Lemon juice is a base and bicarbonate of soda is an acid
Lemon juice is an acid and bicarbonate of soda is a base

6.
a)
b)
c)

What is the pH of rainwater?
Acidic
Basic
Neutral

7. After you added the lemon juice to the bicarbonate of soda and indicator, what happened
to the colour of the solution?
a) There was no change to the colour
b) The colour changed from blue to pink
c) The colour changed from pink to blue
8. Adding lemon juice to the bicarbonate of soda and indicator solution until it completely
changed colour:
a)
Changed the bicarbonate of soda solution from an acid to a base
b)
Changed the bicarbonate of soda solution from a base to an acid
c)
Made no change to the pH
9. Acid rain and industrial pollution can dramatically raise the pH of lakes and rivers. This
can kill the animals and plants that live in the aquatic environment. How might one
correct the pH of a lake with a reading of 3?
a) add neutral water to help level out the pH
b) add a acid to the lake water and continuous monitoring of the pH levels so that it does not
become too acidic.
c) add a base to the lake water and continuous monitoring of the pH levels so that it does
not become too basic
10.Which of the following would be most dangerous if spilt?
a) A liquid that was blue after indicator solution was added
b) A liquid that was green after indicator solution was added
c) A liquid that was red after indicator solution was added