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Chemistry Experiments and NGSS

Are you looking for a chemistry experiment to support the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)? A common investigation in chemistry classrooms is studying reaction rates. Experiment 12, “The Decomposition of Hydrogen Peroxide,” from Advanced Chemistry with Vernier and Experiment 22, “Reaction Rates,” from Investigating Chemistry through Inquiry are two examples where students investigate the decomposition rate of hydrogen peroxide. Experiment 22, “Reaction Rates,” is the inquiry version where the method involves students designing and carrying out an investigation.

Both experiments study the effect of temperature or concentration change of the reacting particles on the rate at which the reaction occurs, which is an integral part of NGSS Performance Expectation HS-PS1-5. Both also explore chemical reaction rates covered in Disciplinary Core Idea (DCI) HS-PS1.B Chemical Reactions, and include Crosscutting Concepts and Science and Engineering Practices.

Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts Science and Engineering Practices

HS-PS1.B: Chemical Reactions

Chemical processes, their rates, and whether or not energy is stored or released can be understood in terms of the collisions of molecules and the rearrangements of atoms into new molecules, with consequent changes in the sum of all bond energies in the set of molecules that are matched by changes in kinetic energy.


Cause and effect

Constructing explanations and designing solutions

Planning and carrying out investigations

Analyzing and interpreting data

Using mathematics and computational thinking

The decomposition of hydrogen peroxide produces oxygen gas as a product according to the reaction listed below. As the concentration or temperature is varied, students monitor the reaction using a Gas Pressure Sensor, since the production of oxygen gas will increase the pressure in the closed reaction vessel.

{\text{2 }}{{\text{H}}_{\text{2}}}{{\text{O}}_{\text{2}}}{\text{(aq)}} \xrightarrow      [\text{}]      {\text{k}} {\text{2 }}{{\text{H}}_{\text{2}}}{\text{O  +  }}{{\text{O}}_{\text{2}}}{\text{(g)}}

Because this reaction proceeds slowly under standard conditions, a catalyst, potassium iodide, is used so that the reaction proceeds at a measurable rate. The amount of catalyst added is held constant while either concentration or temperature is changed. The data analysis will show that the rate of oxygen gas production is proportional to the decomposition rate of hydrogen peroxide.

The increase in hydrogen peroxide concentration is proportional
to the increase in decomposition rate.
The increase in hydrogen peroxide concentration is proportional
to the increase in decomposition rate.

The objective of analyzing the effect of temperature is for the student to calculate the activation energy for this reaction, which engages students in using mathematics and computational thinking. The catalyst concentration can also be varied to examine its influence on the rate. Students can also investigate different catalysts.

Vernier lab experiments are a great option to help support students in three-dimensional learning. For answers to questions about these experiments or other content inquiries, contact us at

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