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An Electrolysis Experiment for a Middle School Summer Science Camp

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Higher education is often culturally deemphasized in the geographic area served by our rural, regional campus. As a result, faculty members have the opportunity to spearhead teaching efforts designed to educate the community about the importance of obtaining a post-secondary degree. To this end, we recently held a Science Summer Camp for middle school students, designed to infuse young people with an increased excitement for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education. In this report, we summarize a chemical electrolysis experiment we carried out with middle school students for our annual Science Summer Camp. We also provided procedural guidelines for small- and large-scale experiments. In the latter case, evolved H2 gas can be detonated for effect. Two modifications from literature procedure include: (1) using glass burettes, instead of test tubes, to collect the evolving H2 and O2 gases for the small-scale setup; and (2) prefilling the 100-mL graduated collection cylinders with aqueous NaOH prior to beginning electrolysis. Because these modifications provide aqueous solution in the collection reservoirs prior to starting the experiment, the total time required for the experiment is greatly reduced (~30 minutes).



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