Shedding Light on Acids and Bases

The Shedding Light on Acids and Bases series makes it easy for students to learn all the basics (pardon the pun) of acids and bases! Students will come away with a deep understanding of what acids and bases are and they will learn about how much acids and bases affect their lives, given that acids and bases can be found everywhere from our farms to our kitchens and from our power stations to our industrial plants.
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In Episode 1, Acids in Industry, we look at what acids are, how they’re made, and how they’re used in steel making and agriculture. We also take a quick trip back to the 1770s to look at how acids were used by Captain James Cook to save his crew from the disease that killed more sailors than shipwrecks and sea battles!

In Episode 2, Acids and Carbonates, we describe what carbonates are and explain how they react with acids. If it wasn’t for carbonates, our own stomach acid would kill us, acid rain would have destroyed our forests, and, worst of all, our pancakes wouldn’t be as soft and fluffy as they are.

In Episode 3, Neutralization, we explain what bases are and then take a look at what happens when acids and bases chemically react. We also take a look at acid-base indicators, which are chemicals that change colour depending on whether they are in an acid or a base.

 

In Episode 4, pH, we take an in-depth look at H+ and OH ions and we explain how the pH scale is used to express how strongly acidic or how strongly basic a particular environment is. We examine how the pH of natural environments affects plant and animal life and how the human body has to carefully control the pH of our organs.

In Episode 5, Advanced Acid-Base Chemistry, we take a deeper look at pH and explain how the numbers on the pH scale are actually related to the number of H+ or OH ions present in an acid or a base. We then descend even deeper down—to the atomic level—to explain what actually happens when acids react with bases and what actually happens when acids react with metals. We introduce students to ionic equations and to the role (or lack thereof) of spectator ions in many chemical reactions. This episode can be thought of as an extension to middle school acid-base chemistry or as an introduction to senior school acid-base chemistry.


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