Priestley and Soda Pop

Lesson Overview

In this activity students learn about a method of producing carbon dioxide similar to the one Priestley used, and they then measure the volume of the gas that they can recover from a definite volume of carbonated beverage.

Student Ability Level and Grouping

This lesson is suitable for students in a high-school general chemistry course.

Expected Student Background and Skills

Students should understand the basic concepts of how a chemical reaction takes place and the observable indications that a reaction is occurring. Prior student knowledge about solubility of gases, along with prior experience collecting gases and measuring their volumes, will enhance learning in this activity.

Time and Materials Required

The demonstration can be done in 10 to 15 minutes. The materials required are

  • 1 M HCl
  • Calcium carbonate (marble chips)
  • Large test tube or Erlenmeyer flask
  • 1-hole rubber stopper to fit test tube or flask
  • Glass tubing, 10 cm
  • Rubber tubing, 50 cm
  • 100-mL beaker

The lab activity requires approximately 45 minutes. The materials required are

  • 1-L bottle of clear carbonated beverage
  • One balloon
  • Beaker, with diameter larger than the soda bottle (the beaker should also be able to hold the soda bottle so that the water reaches at least one-third of the way up the bottle)
  • Plastic container to act as a water reservoir for measuring the volume of CO2 by water displacement
  • Rubber tubing, 50 cm
  • 2-L soda bottle, empty
  • Graduated cylinder
  • Felt-tip marker

Learning Objectives

After completing this activity, students should understand

  • Joseph Priestley’s contributions to the study of gases, especially carbon dioxide;
  • the properties of carbon dioxide; and
  • the solubility of gases in water.

National Science Education Standards

Physical Science

  • Chemical reactions

History and Nature of Science

  • Science as human endeavor
  • Historical perspectives

Download the Activity

Connect with CHF