Acid or alkali? Acidic or alkaline?
Type of Activity
Watch glasses, 1 per sample (Note 1)
White tiles, 1 per sample (Note 1)
Red and blue litmus paper, 3 pieces of each per working group
Access to small amounts of common everyday substances such as (Note 2)
Refer to Health & Safety and Technical notes section below for additional information.
This is a resource from the Practical Chemistry project, developed by the Nuffield Foundation and the Royal Society of Chemistry. This collection of over 200 practical activities demonstrates a wide range of chemical concepts and processes. Each activity contains comprehensive information for teachers and technicians, including full technical notes and step-by-step procedures. Practical Chemistry activities accompany Practical Physics and Practical Biology.
If you teach primary science, click the headings below to find out how to use this resource:
Children will develop their working scientifically skills by:
- Selecting and planning the most appropriate ways to answer science questions, recognising and controlling variables where necessary, including:
- grouping and classifying things.
- Recording data and results using scientific diagrams, labels, classification keys and tables.
- Using appropriate scientific language and ideas to explain, evaluate and communicate their methods and findings.
- Make predictions and test a variety of substances to determine if they are acidic, alkaline or neutral.
Children will learn:
- Substances can be acidic, alkaline or neutral
- Substances can be grouped according to their properties including whether they are acidic, alkaline or neutral
Suggested activity use
You could carry out this activity as a carousel of different stations, allowing the children to work in pairs or threes to make predictions and then test a range of common everyday substances to see if they are acidic or alkaline. Children can then decide how to record this information and discuss their findings as a plenary activity.
Various equipment and resources are needed for this practical, including litmus paper and watch glasses.
To get the most out of the activity, children will need some simple understanding of the terms acid (noun), acidic (adjective), alkali (noun), alkaline (adjective), neutral (adjective) and indicator.