A student reacts baking soda and vinegar

Endothermic or Exothermic Reaction?

In this activity, students will experience an endothermic reaction and gauge the temperature change that occurs as a result of the reaction.

This simple activity materialized when I considered the temperature change obvious to a student as he completed a simple chemical reaction in his  Baking Soda and Vinegars project last year. You can access that activity at: Baking Soda and Vinegar Reactions. Students create a reaction with baking soda and vinegar, and decide whether the reaction was endothermic or exothermic based on the results they observe. This activity should be completed after instruction on chemical reactions, the law of conservation of energy, and endothermic and exothermic reactions.


  1. Briefly review  exothermic and endothermic reactions.  Remind students of the differences between exothermic reactions and endothermic reactions.

    • Ask – What would we expect to happen during an exothermic reaction? —  Heat would be released – Temperature increases.  
    • What would be expected to happen during an endothermic reaction? Heat absorbed – Temperature decreases. 
  2. Tell students that we will be combining 2 substances – vinegar and baking soda  and determining what type of reaction occurs based on temperature before and after the reaction.
  3. Some of the students will likely be familiar with this reaction. 
  4. Measure 20 mL vinegar into the small bowl.
  5. Using the Vernier Talking LabQuest and the temperature probe  (or other thermometer) have students measure and record the temperature of the vinegar.
  6. Measure 10 mL of baking soda. 
  7. Each group will add the 10 mL of baking soda simultaneously.
  8. Observe and discuss the evidence of a chemical reaction – fizzing – production of a gas – Discuss
  9. Tell students that there is another evidence of a chemical reaction which has occurred.  Have each group measure the temperature after the reaction is complete and record the measurement.
  10. Discuss the results.  Students will notice that there has been a decrease in temperature.

    • Ask:  Was this an endothermic reaction or an exothermic reaction?
Students may answer the following questions in written form if time allows:
  1. What type of reaction occurred – exothermic or endothermic?
  2. What is the evidence that you observed?

If the Talking LabQuest is not available, have students gauge the temperature before and after with sighted assistance using a nonadapted thermometer.

By Laura Hospitál

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