• Compleat Chymical Demonstrator



The Compleat Chymical Demonstrator

Learning is a multisensory process, especially in the physical sciences. Students must experience science through active participation, not just by sitting through an instructor monologue. The Compleat Chymical Demonstrator is designed to be a compilation of demonstrations and activities, arranged by topic, for use in the chemistry (and science) classroom.

Demonstrations and activities are an essential part of active learning. A recent report has confirmed that students get better grades and fail less when professors use active-learning methods in the classroom (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2014, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1319030111). This author, however, has experienced students, at all levels, around the world, who never experienced demonstrations and/or hands-on activities in their academic career.

Click on one of the topics below to go to links that contain demonstrations and activities addressing those specific topics. This material is from Chemical Principles Visualized, a work in progress, by David A. Katz:

These are PDF files and require Acrobat Reader

The Compleat Chymical Demonstrator: About These Files

Safety with Chemical Demonstrations:

In view of a number of accidents and injuries as a result of improper demonstration techniques and improerly trained individuals, the reader is referred to the page on Safety with Chemical Demonstrations.

Reference and background information:

The Art of Effective Demonstrations

The First Day

Science Demonstrations, Experiments, and Resources: A Reference List for Elementary through College Teachers Emphasizing Chemistry with some Physics and Life Science

Common Chemicals and Supplies in and Around Your Home - Includes a table of mass-volume equivalents for selected chemicals.

Safer alternatives to fire and explosions in classroom demonstrations by David A. Katz. Published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials, 36 (1994) 149-158.

Scientific Method, Investigations, and Elements:

Hypothesis and Experiment – an introduction to the scientific method

Pouring water between two glasses – an easy interactive activity

The M&M’s Lab – an introduction to graphing

Iron for Breakfast – do you know what’s in your food? With Teacher Notes and a Letter from General Mills responding to an inquiry about the iron in the cereal

Elements Hands-on experience with elements.

Build a Spectroscope with a homework assignment to locate elements in the local environment.

An Experiment in Alchemy: Copper to Silver to Gold This is also used as a classroom experiment. This version has an explanation of the process which was investigated in 1979. (The classroom experiment is posted on the Laboratory Experiments page.) Important Fire Precaution: Use granulated zinc (20 or 30 mesh) for this experiment. Do not use powdered zinc or zinc dust. At the conclusion of this experiment, the waste zince may oxidize, even if washed with distilled water, and generate sufficient heat to start a fire.

Earth Science

The Magnesium Fire Starter

Density, Volume and Heat:

Coke and Diet Coke – a density experiment

Hot and Cold – separate water by density

Conservation of Volume and a Solution to the Problem

Energy of a Peanut – an experiment in calorimetry


Chalk Chromatography: A Method to Separate a Mixture

Spin Chromatography

Chemical Reactions:

The Chemistry of Color Changing Markers and an Investigation

Chemical Reactions - A Microscale Experiment

Preparation of Zinc Iodide – tracking a chemical change

Types of Chemical Reactions This provides general directions for a series of chemical reactions that encourage students to write and balance chemical equations.

The Thermite Reaction

Molecular Structure and Stoichiometry

Models, Mass and Stoichiometry This can be used as a demonstration or hands-on activity in the classroom or the laboratory.

Gases and Oxidation:

The Preparation of Oxygen

Oxidation: Does Iron Burn?

Pouring Out a Candle

Gases and Pressure: Experiments with a 140-mL Syringe

How Do We Affect the Quality of Our Atmosphere This version contains teacher notes on the last page

A Cloud in a Bottle


Grow an Alum Crystal

Light and Spectra:

The Visual Electromagnetic Spectrum

Build a radio transmitter

Sound Into Light is in preparation

Colored Flames (A safe method with bright colors)

Build a Hand-Held Spectroscope

Build an Overhead Projector Spectroscope

Build an Overhead Projector Polarimeter


Red Sunset – “red sky at night…”

Intermolecular Forces:

Decrease in Volume – mixing two polar substances

Increase in Volume – reaction of an acid with a base yields…

Forces of Attraction: Drops of Water on a Coin

Which Will Evaporate First? – visual vapor pressure

Intermolecular Forces

Entropy – order ↔ disorder

Kinetics and Equilibrium:

Colorful Catalysis– observe an activated complex

Visualizing Equilibrium - a chemical equilibrium simulation

Acids and Bases:

Visualizing pH - acids, bases, and pH using red cabbage paper with a student worksheet for classroom use


Two Safe Student Conductivity Apparatus



Build a Microscale Fuel Cell

DNA Isolation – using household products

Non-Intuitive Demos and Activities to Make Students Think

Additional Demonstrations can be found on the Magic Into Science page.


Internet Sources for Chemistry Demonstrations:

At this time, Tested Demonstrations in Chemistry by Hubert Alyea and Frederic Dutton, is not available as an ebook on the Internet. This is the classic book on chemical demonstrations, compiled from the Journal of Chemical Education, however there are a lot of safety issues with many of the demonstrations. Used editions may be available from booksellers.

Tested Demonstrations in Chemistry, the revised and udated version by George Gilbert, is not available as an ebook on the Internet. George Gilbert combined and updated many of the demonstrations in the original book by Alyea and Dutton and removed many of the hazardous procedures. Used editions may be available from booksellers.

Classic Chemical Demonstrations 100 chemistry demonstration from the Royal society of Chemistry

Chemical Demonstration Booklet prepared by Magda Wajrak, school of Natuaral Sciences, Edith Cowan University