Oxidation #11

(grades 6-10)
Soft-bound, 48 page book, 16 reproducible task cards, full teaching notes.

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Discover the underlying chemical unity between things that burn, things that breathe, and things that rust. Balance chemical equations, find the percentage of oxygen in air, watch iron burn! Everything runs on common kitchen chemicals.

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Oxidation Starter Kit

book not included, please order separately

WE SUPPLY in quantities that serve one student or two students working in a lab pair: index card, aluminum foil, masking tape, test tubes, graduated cylinder, dropper bottles, super-duty D-cell batteries, tubing, clothespins, steel wool, baby food jars, birthday candles, modeling clay, rubber bands, garden lime, craft stick, wire, nail, ceramic magnet, washer


  • free activity
  • book content
  • get materials
  • teaching tips
  • objectives
  • standards

Table of Contents for #11 Oxidation:

Preparation and Support

A TOPS Model for Effective Science Teaching • Getting Ready • Gathering Materials • Sequencing Task Cards • Gaining a Whole Perspective• Long Range Objectives • Review/Test Questions

Activities and Lesson Notes

  1. 1. Candle Combustion
  2. 2. Human Respiration
  3. 3. I Feel Faint
  4. 4. Bottom Burner
  5. 5. It's a Gas
  6. 6. Limewater Reaction
  7. 7. Three Little Jars
  8. 8. Chemical Overview
  9. 9. Glowing Splint
  10. 10. Iron Rusts
  11. 11. Percent Oxygen?

  13. 12. Does Iron Burn?
  14. 13. Chemistry Puzzle
  15. 14. What's Your Hypothesis?
  16. 15. Reproducible Results?
  17. 16. Isopropyl Investigation


Complete Master List for #11 Oxidation:

Key: (1st/2nd/3rd) denote needed quantities: (1st) enough for 1 student doing all activities; (2nd) enough for 30 students working in 10 lab groups all self-paced; (3rd) enough for 30 students working in 10 lab groups, all doing the same lesson. Starred* items may be purchased below.

  1. * 1/10/10: packages birthday candles, not dripless
  2. * 0.1/1/1: cup modeling clay
  3. * 4/40/40: tall baby food jars, 6 ounce size
  4. 1/10/10: pint jars with lids
  5. 2/20/20: books matches
  6. * 1/10/10: household candles
  7. 1/10/10: tuna cans for match disposal
  8. 1/1/1: wall clock with second hand (or watches)
  9. 1/10/10: empty toilet tissue rolls
  10. 1/10/10: scissors

  11. 1/10/10: plastic produce bags
  12. 1/10/10: plastic sandwich bags
  13. * 1/20/20: rubber bands
  14. * 1/10/10: plastic or rubber tubing, 1 foot minimum, about 1/2 cm in diameter
  15. * 1/10/10: rolls masking tape
  16. 1/10/10: large tubs
  17. * 1/10/10: pieces easy-to-bend wire, at least 30 cm long
  18. 1/10/10: metric rulers
  19. 1/2/4: wire cutters (optional)
  20. 2/20/20: size-D batteries, dead or alive

  21. 1/4/10: tablespoons
  22. 1/1/1: bottle vinegar
  23. 1/1/1: box baking soda
  24. 1/2/2: rolls paper towels
  25. 1/10/10: index cards (optional
  26. * 2/20/20: medium test tubes
  27. 1/1/1: source of water and sink or large tub
  28. * 1/1/1: packages garden lime, aka: calcium hydroxide
  29. 1/1/1: roll plastic wrap
  30. 1/2/10: teaspoons

  31. 1/1/1: packages active dry yeast
  32. 1/2/2: bottles hydrogen peroxide
  33. * 1/10/10: wooden craft sticks (Popsicle sticks)
  34. * 1/3/10: graduated cylinders, 100mL
  35. * 1/1/1: package fine-grade, unsoaped steel wool balls
  36. 1/1/1: bottle chlorine bleach
  37. * 2/15/20: wooden clothespins
  38. 1/3/10: hand calculators
  39. * 1/10/10: large test tubes (medium will work)
  40. 1/2/10: medium sized nails (size is not critical)

  41. * 1/3/10: magnets
  42. * 1/1/1: roll aluminum foil
  43. * 1/10/10: medium-sized washers with 1/2 inch hole
  44. 1/3/10: plastic lids from margarine tubs or equivalent
  45. 1/3/10: quart jars
  46. 1/1/1: bottle liquid soap
  47. 1/3/10: shallow saucers
  48. 1/1/1: bottle 70% isopropyl alcohol (NOT 100%)
  49. * 1/10/10: eyedroppers (dropper bottles are handy too)
  50. 1/2/10: dictionaries

Convenient Shopping:

Aluminum Foil

regular strength, 20 square feet x 12 inches rolls

Buy aluminum foil here as a convenience item, or for less in many grocery stores.

Baby Food Jars - assorted

without lids

Each set includes 4 small, 4 medium and 4 large glass jars.

Candles - birthday

Needed for #09 Floating and Sinking, #11 Oxidation, and #14 Kinetic Model.

Candles - emergency

cylindrical, 5 inches by about 3/4 inches diameter

Also called utility candles. A handy heating source. Correctly sized for #09 Floating and Sinking. Drip catchers not included.

Clay - modeling

oil-based, non-drying

Sold by the 100 gram stick, about 1/4 cup, in assorted colors (our choice). One stick serves a whole classroom for TOPS applications.


wooden, spring-action

These are handy lab items to keep in stock. We use them as bulb holders, tongs, clips, and more.

Craft Sticks


This little flat stick that held your childhood popsicle aloft has many constructive lab applications. Needed for #200 Diving into Pressure and Buoyancy.

Dropper Bottle with Eyedropper

1/2 ounce, amber glass

Very handy for storing and conveniently dispensing small quantities of liquid. You may also purchase eyedroppers without bottles as item #1120.


glass, with rubber bulbs and screw-on plastic bottle top

These have many lab uses. You may purchase them separately here, or with 1/2 ounce dropper bottles (as item #1121).

Separately, these also double as Cartesian Divers in #200 Diving into Pressure & Buoyancy. If you already have droppers, test them in advance to see if they make good 'divers': Remove plastic bottle top, if any. Dropper must float when empty, then sink with a one-squeeze-intake of water. Test that the seal between bulb and barrel is water tight: The empty dropper should float for a day or so in a glass of water, without taking on visible water.

Lime - garden

powdered calcium hydroxide

Needed in #11 Oxidation to make limewater, the classic test for carbon dioxide. Only one small pinch is needed per liter.

Graduated Cylinder - 100 mL

shatter resistant plastic on stable base

An important lab inquiry tool for measuring larger liquid volumes.

Magnet - ceramic

rectangle, 3/16 inch thick

Your basic refrigerator magnet, about the width and length of a large postage stamp, with N and S poles on each face and a hole in the middle. A useful and popular science supply used in may TOPS titles. Purchase at least 2 per student.

Rubber Bands - assorted

10 grams each of thin, medium and thick

You get 30 grams of soft, strong, durable rubber bands: thin #16 (about 50), medium #32 (about 20), and heavy-duty #64 (about 10). These sizes are specifically selected to work in most TOPS experiments.

Steel Wool

fine grade, unsoaped

A handy lab supply, for studying electricity. Each pad is about the size of a classic Shredded Wheat biscuit. Used in #11 Oxidation and #32 Electricity.

Tape - masking

3/4 inch x 55 yd roll

A handy science supply used in most TOPS modules.

Test Tube - large disposable

36 mL capacity, 20 mm OD, 6 inch (150 mm) length

A lighter weight rimless Pyrex test tube made with thinner glass.

Test Tube - large reusable

34 mL capacity, 20 mm OD, 6 inch (150 mm) length

A tough Pyrex test tube made with rim and thicker glass. Has a white spot for labeling.

Test Tube - medium disposable

19 mL capacity, 16 mm OD, 5 inch (125 mm) length

A lighter weight rimless Pyrex test tube made with thinner glass.

Test Tube - medium reusable

14 mL capacity, 15 mm OD, 5 inch (125 mm) length

A tough Pyrex test tube made with rim and thicker glass. Has a white spot for labeling.

Tubing - medium ID

clear plastic, 1/4 inch ID, 3/8 inch OD

This diameter tubing, fitted through small washers (item #1310) and sealed with modeling clay (item #1150) creates air and water-tight seals in #16 Pressure.

Washer - large

1 3/8 inch flat washer with 9/16 inch hole

A specialty item used in #11 Oxidation and #37 Animal Survival.

Wire - 22 gauge iron

bare wire

A specialty item used for #18 Sound.

Teaching Tips for #11 Oxidation:

We encourage improvisation - it's one of the main goals of our hands-on approach! You and your students might invent a simpler, sturdier or more accurate system; might ask a better question; might design a better extension. Hooray for ingenuity! When this occurs, we'd love to hear about it and share it with other educators. Please send ideas and photos to tops@canby.com.

Lesson by Lesson Objectives for #11 Oxidation:

  1. Lesson 1: To discover that candles require a constant supply of oxygen to burn. To understand this process as an energy-producing oxidation reaction.
  2. Lesson 2: To compare human use of oxygen to that of a burning candle.
  3. Lesson 3: To collect gas by displacing water. To show that exhaled air contains less oxygen than inhaled air.
  4. Lesson 4: To study how convection currents sustain a candle burning in the bottom of a jar. To recognize that water vapor is a product of both combustion and respiration.
  5. Lesson 5: To produce carbon dioxide gas and pour it over a candle flame. To design a fire extinguisher.
  6. Lesson 6: To learn how to test for the presence of carbon dioxide with limewater. To set up a control as a standard of comparison.
  7. Lesson 7: To use the limewater test to identify carbon dioxide as a product of both respiration and combustion.
  8. Lesson 8: To summarize the chemistry of combustion and respiration. To practice balancing simple chemical equations.
  9. Lesson 9: To produce oxygen by the catalytic decomposition of hydrogen peroxide. To test for the presence of oxygen-rich gas with a glowing splint.
  10. Lesson 10: To study the slow oxidation of iron into rust. To monitor the consumption of oxygen in this process.
  11. Lesson 11: To understand that air is a mixture of gases. To estimate the percent, by volume, of oxygen in the air we breathe.
  12. Lesson 12: To study the rapid oxidation of iron to iron oxide. To identify variables that speed this burning process.
  13. Lesson 13: To distinguish between hydrated and anhydrous iron oxide. To derive a balanced chemical equation to show how iron oxides combine when heated.
  14. Lesson 14: To hypothesize why a burning candle creates a partial vacuum in an inverted jar. To appreciate that this, and all hypotheses, are subject to change based on new experimental evidence.
  15. Lesson 15: To repeat an experiment with uncontrolled variables. To appreciate that its experimental results are not reproducible.
  16. Lesson 16: To write a balanced equation, based on experimental evidence, for the combustion of alcohol.

National Science Education Standards (NRC 1996) for #11 Oxidation:

TEACHING Standards

These 16 Task Cards promote excellence in science teaching by these NSES criteria:
Teachers of science...
A: ...plan an inquiry-based science program. (p. 30)
B: ...guide and facilitate learning. (p. 32)
C: ...engage in ongoing assessment of their teaching and of student learning. (p. 37)
D: ...design and manage learning environments that provide students with the time, space, and resources needed for learning science. (p. 43)

CONTENT Standards

These 16 Task Cards contain fundamental content as defined by these NSES guidelines (p. 109).
• Represent a central event or phenomenon in the natural world.
• Represent a central scientific idea and organizing principle.
• Have rich explanatory power.
• Guide fruitful investigations.
• Apply to situations and contexts common to everyday experiences.
• Can be linked to meaningful learning experiences.
• Are developmentally appropriate for students at the grade level specified.

Unifying Concepts and Processes

NSES Framework: Systems, order, and organization • Evidence, models and explanation • Constancy, change, and measurement • Evolution and equilibrium • Form and function
Core Concepts/Processes: Burning candles, breathing people, and rusting nails all require oxygen. Candles and people both produce carbon dioxide and water vapor.

Science as Inquiry (content standard A)

NSES Framework: Identify questions that can be answered through scientific investigations. • Design and conduct a scientific investigation. • Use appropriate tools and techniques to gather, analyze, and interpret data. • Develop descriptions, explanations, predictions, and models using evidence. • Think critically and logically to connect evidence and explanations. • Recognize and analyze alternative explanations and predictions. • Communicate scientific procedures and explanations. • Use mathematics in all aspects of scientific inquiry.
Core Inquiries: Inquiry into the common chemistry of apparently divergent systems. • Reexamine an hypothesis. • Explore the relationship between reproducibility and uncontrolled experimental variables.

Physical Science (content standard B)

NSES Framework:Heat • Properties and changes of properties in matter • Chemical reactions • Interactions of energy and matter
Core Content:Oxidation reactions • Respiration • Combustion • Rusting • Composition of air • Controlled variables • Reproducible results

Life Science (content standard C)

NSES Framework: Structure and function in living systems.
Core Content: Compare human respiration with a burning candle and rusting steel wool.