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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

Table of Contents

Abstract Volume 18 (2013) pp 287-289
DOI 10.1007/s00897132514

Helping Students Visualize the Electrolysis of Water by Using Acid-Base Indicators to Create Colorful Designs

Rajeev B. Dabke*, James O. Schreck, Jacqueline McGuire, Eunhye Claire Cho

Department of Chemistry, Columbus State University, Columbus, GA 31907,
Received August 1, 2013. Accepted September 24, 2013.

Published: 28 October 2013

Abstract. A novel student application of the electrolysis of water with selected acid-base indicators is described. Tiny holes drilled in a cutting board serve as half cells, and a layer of edible gelatin acts as a salt bridge. Electrolytic reactions are energized by a 9-V battery with two platinum or stainless steel wires serving as anode and cathode. Acid-base indicators and red cabbage juice are used to create colorful “dot” patterns on the cutting board. Instructional goals, detailed preparation for the activity, and chemical art suggestions for middle and high school students, and chemistry demonstrators are presented.

Key Words: Laboratories and Demonstrations; general chemistry; electrochemistry, electrolytic cell, hands-on learning, middle- and high school science

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

Article in PDF format (61 KB) HTML format

Supporting Materials:

Preparation of the electrolytic cells and student instructions are described in Supporting Materials (361 KB).


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