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The Buffer Balancing Acts Chemical Demonstration Kit will help to teach about buffers in a way students will comprehend. Students will learn what components are present in a buffer and how each component plays a unique role in the process.

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One of the most difficult concepts in acid–base chemistry, buffers provide an essential acid–base balancing act in living cells, lakes and many consumer products. What are buffers made of, and how do they work? First prepare an ideal pH 7 phosphate buffer—the same buffer that protects enzymes and proteins in cells. Next use indicators to show how the buffer resists pH changes and protects against acids and bases. Students learn not only what components are always present in a buffer, but also understand how each component plays a unique role in making the buffer work. Finally, students what they have learned about buffers by testing the buffer capacity of Alka-Seltzer® tablets. 

Concepts: pH, buffers, weak acid, conjugate base.
Time Required: 15 minutes

Correlation to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Science & Engineering Practices

Developing and using models
Analyzing and interpreting data
Constructing explanations and designing solutions

Disciplinary Core Ideas

MS-PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter
MS-PS1.B: Chemical Reactions
HS-PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter
HS-PS1.B: Chemical Reactions

Crosscutting Concepts

Systems and system models
Stability and change
Structure and function