Determining the Mass Ratio of Elements in a Compound

In Mr. Bunger’s Chemistry class students are learning about how to write formulas for chemical compounds and how to determine what the correct formula should be. In conjunction with that students performed a laboratory experiment much like the early chemists did in order to collect data and determine the mass ratio of elements in a compound. We heated magnesium metal over a Bunsen burner and caused it to combust in the presence of oxygen in the atmosphere to create magnesium oxide. By measuring the difference in mass before and after the combustion the students are then able to determine the mass ratio and thus the correct chemical formula. This is always a popular experiment with the students due to the brilliant white light emitted when the magnesium begins to burn!

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