Teaching Science through History
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The Origins of Acids and Alkalis

by Joe Peatrowsky

This teaching module presents a history of acids and bases. It begins with the earliest concepts and indicators of acids and bases from the Greeks and Egyptians, and finishes in the mid-17th century with Boyle's introduction of the litmus test. Students are presented with an understanding of the development of acid-base chemistry in order to develop a strong foundation in acid-base reactions. Students have the opportunity to think in a historical context and perform experiments to help gain an understanding of the development of acid-base theory. Throughout, students are asked to think about what could be used as an indicator of acids and bases. One experiment observes the effervescence of acid-base reactions and another uses plant juice and litmus paper as an acid indicator.

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