Balancing REDOX in acid and base. Should I still teach it?

March 02, 2022

My short answer is, “yes”. Here’s more.

This has been discussed a lot since 2019, and the general consensus seems to be that it is unlikely that a question would ask students to balance a REDOX equation in acid or base from scratch, but rather that they might only be asked to combine a couple of half-reactions with H+/OH– already present. However, there is absolutely no way on earth that I am going to remove this from my work with students for the following reasons.

1. There’s nothing in LO 4.9 that absolutely rules out the possibility of an acid/base REDOX situation.

2. It’s closely tied to LO 4.8, AND umpteen other acid/base situations.

3. Because of 2., any discussion of acid/base in REDOX situations is all, ‘money in the bank’ for other, related acid/base areas.

4. And this is the odd one, since I never, ever bother to look at the Suggested Skills (because I think they are a crock). However, if one does look at the Suggested Skill associated with LO 4.9, it’s 5E that says, “Determine a balanced chemical equation for a given chemical phenomena.

In my head I cannot give up the idea of teaching acid/base REDOX as long as 5E is associated with LO 4.9 in the CED, simply because it seems reasonable to me that, “a given chemical phenomena” in no way rules out a REDOX reaction in acid or base!

In summary, currently this is too valuable a skill as an overarching concept to ignore, AND I can’t (yet) convince myself that any part of the CED has explicitly ruled it out.

1 Comment

  1. James Marilley

    Agree 100% Adrian even though at times some of the problem sets seem to be more about dealing with the exception, hydrogen peroxide or a diatomic molecule being both the reducing and oxidizing agent… the attention to detail with this skill is underestimated or undervalued if it is passed over.


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