Collect Oxygen Over Water

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In this activity, learners use a pneumatic trough (see related activity) to generate and collect pure oxygen. Learners will test to see if they've generated oxygen by observing the combustion of elemental sulfur, which yields a brilliant blue flame of sulfur oxidation. The manganese dioxide catalyst used in this process is easily recovered from a spent zinc-carbon battery (see related activity).

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
Over $20 per student

Age Range:
Ages 14 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per student)

  • Erlenmeyer flask
  • glass plate to cover jar mouth (such as a small makeup mirror)
  • lighter
  • Pneumatic Trough
  • stopper, with two holes (to fit flask)
  • tubing, glass, (2) 80mm lengths (5mm diameter)
  • tubing, vinyl, (1) 14in length, (3/16in internal diameter)
  • wire loop, twisted, 1/4" diameter loop
  • water
  • sulfur
  • 150 mL hydrogen peroxide
  • 1/4 tsp manganese dioxide
  • 1 mL grease (silicone or other non-flammable)


  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Reactions
      • Oxidation-Reduction Reactions
    • States of Matter
      • Liquids
      • Gases
      • Changes of Phase
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Ragan, Sean Michael


  • All rights reserved, Make Projects, 2011