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The Flint Water Crisis

An Introduction to Chemical Reactions



Author:

Tracy J. Terry
Division of Science and Wellness
The University of New Mexico—Valencia Campus
tjterry@unm.edu

Abstract:

The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, provides a compelling context for understanding the importance of each of the major classes of chemical reactions: precipitation reactions, acid-base reactions, and oxidation-reduction reactions. Each of these reaction types was integral to the failure of the water system in Flint and led to traumatic results for the local inhabitants. Students prepare for this case study by reading an article from Chemical & Engineering News, reviewing the definitions of these reaction types in their textbook, and answering a set of ten questions. The classroom activity is guided by a PowerPoint presentation with further information and an additional series of questions that students work through in class. The case is suitable for high school and lower-level undergraduate general chemistry students.

Objectives:
  • Identify chemical reactions as precipitation, acid-base, or oxidation-reduction.
  • Write balanced chemical equations for each type of chemical reaction.
  • Use a solubility table to identify the products and spectator ions of precipitation reactions.
  • Identify the oxidation state of simple species (metals and simple non-metals).
  • Identify the oxidizing agent and reducing agent of oxidation/reduction reactions.
Keywords: precipitation reactions; acid-base reactions; oxidation-reduction reactions; ox-redox; Flint; lead; passivation; redox;
Topical Area: Regulatory issues, Social justice issues
Educational Level: High school, Undergraduate lower division
Formats: PDF, PowerPoint
Type/Method: Directed, Clicker
Language: English
Subject Headings: Chemistry (General)   Environmental Science   Engineering (General)   Environmental Engineering   Chemical Engineering   Civil Engineering  
Date Posted: 12/5/2017
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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