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Silver Holiday Ornaments: Student Laboratory Kit

By: Edmund Escudero, Summitt Country Day School, Cincinnati, OH

With the Silver Holiday Ornaments Chemistry Laboratory Kit, students mix dextrose with a basic solution containing silver-ammonia complex ions in an ornament, swirl, and voilá, a silver mirror plates out on the inside of the ornament!

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Beautiful chemistry! Create stunning silver ornaments to demonstrate a practical application of a classic redox reaction. Simply mix dextrose, a reducing sugar, with a basic solution containing silver-ammonia complex ions in a glass ornament ball, swirl, and voilá—a lustrous silver mirror plates out on the inside of the ornament. The resulting silver holiday ornaments “reflect” the way silver mirrors are actually produced! Can you imagine how thin the silver coating actually is? Maybe not, but students can estimate the number of silver atoms in the thickness of the silver mirror using atomic mass, radius, and density calculations. Kit includes 24 glass ornaments, 2-5/8"-diameter, and enough solutions and Beral pipets for every student to make their own holiday ornament. Magnificent ornaments are guaranteed to become prized possessions—what a great way to remember chemistry! Also includes reproducible student handouts, detailed background information, and complete Teacher Notes with sample data and answers to all questions. 

Correlation to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Science & Engineering Practices

Asking questions and defining problems
Developing and using models
Planning and carrying out investigations
Analyzing and interpreting data
Using mathematics and computational thinking

Disciplinary Core Ideas

MS-PS1.B: Chemical Reactions
HS-PS1.B: Chemical Reactions

Crosscutting Concepts

Cause and effect
Scale, proportion, and quantity
Systems and system models

Performance Expectations

MS-PS1-1: Develop models to describe the atomic composition of simple molecules and extended structures.
HS-PS1-2: Construct and revise an explanation for the outcome of a simple chemical reaction based on the outermost electron states of atoms, trends in the periodic table, and knowledge of the patterns of chemical properties.