18 Oct 2009

Metals in Acid Base Chemistry

In-Class Activity

Submitted by Sheila Smith, University of Michigan- Dearborn

This is a simple in class exercise to review acid- base equilibria and to lead the students to thinking about metals as both Lewis and Bronsted- Lowry acids. I use it as a discussion starter when I introduce the role of metals in biological acid/base chemistry in my upper division inorganic course, but it can be used at any level once acid-base equilibria has been covered.

PDF icon Bioinorg_MetalsinAcidBase.pdf23.41 KB
Learning Goals: 

A student should be able to relate a pKa to a Ka and calculate from that the concentration of components at equilibrium. A student should be able to relate the magnitude of Ka to the strength of the acid.

Equipment needs: 


Time Required: 
10 minutes
Evaluation Methods: 

Primary assessment is based on the quality of the ensuing discussion. Secondary assessment can be done by asking a related but different question on a exam.

Evaluation Results: 

Once students (at the jr/sr level) "remember" how to do acid base equilibria, this leads into a very nice discussion of the different ways that metal ions can affect the acidity of a system.

Creative Commons License: 
Creative Commons Licence


I would consider using this in both my bioinorganic and my regular biochemistry class.  The biochem text we use (Berg, Tymoczko, & Stryer) has a section about the role of metal ions in biology.   I think this is a great way to get biochem students to remember their basic chemistry and introduce them to a bit of inorganic chem at the same time.  

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