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Ahh, the sweet smell of science!

Invite your friends over to share in this super smelly but

really cool activity. Plug your nose and get ready to make your own red cabbage indicator
that will test the acidity or alkalinity of certain liquids.
Red cabbage**
Clear graduated cylinders or glasses
White paper
Apron or lab coat (avoid nasty stains!)
Test chemicals: Vinegar, Baking soda, Lemon juice, Washing soda, Laundry
detergent, Soda pop, Alka-Seltzer
- See more at:

Peel off six big cabbage leaves and put them in a blender with 12 cups of water.
Depending on how much Red Cabbage Indicator you want to make use the optimum
ratio of one cabbage leaf to two cups of water.
Pour the purplish cabbage liquid through a strainer to filter out all of the big
chunks of cabbage. Doesnt cabbage juice smell great? Save the liquid for the
experiments to follow.
Set out three graduated cylinders or glasses, side by side. Fill each container half
full with cabbage juice.
Since you know that vinegar is an example of an acid, add a little vinegar to the
first glass of cabbage juice. Stir with a spoon and notice the color change to red, which
indicates that vinegar is classified as an acid.
In the second glass add a teaspoon of washing soda or laundry detergent. Notice
how the liquid turns green, indicating that this chemical is a base. Keep these two
glasses of red and green liquid for future reference.
Try adding other test chemicals" to a small amount of cabbage juice and note the
color change to determine if the chemical is an acid or a base.

Use your cabbage juice indicator to test the acid or base properties of other common
substances. You might want to try orange juice, lemonade, milk, salt, ammonia, or soap.
Try soaking some filter paper in concentrated cabbage juice. Remove the paper from the
cabbage juice and hang it up by a clothespin to dry. Cut the dried paper into thin strips.
Dip the strips into various liquids to test their pH. The redder the strip turns, the more
acidic the liquid is. The greener the strip turns, the more basic the liquid is.
Some substances are classified as either an acid or a base. Think of acids and bases as
opposites - acids have a low pH and bases have a high pH. For reference, water (a
neutral) has a pH of 7 on a scale of 0-14. Scientists can tell if a substance is an acid or a
base by means of an indicator. An indicator is typically a chemical that changes color if it
comes in contact with an acid or a base.
As you can see, the purple cabbage juice turns red when it is mixed with something
acidic and turns green when it mixes with something basic. Red cabbage juice is
considered to be an indicator because it shows us something about the chemical
composition of other substances.

What is it about cabbage that causes this to happen? Red cabbage contains a watersoluble pigment called anthocyanin that changes color when it is mixed with an acid or a
base. The pigment turns red in acidic environments with a pH less than 7 and the
pigment turns bluish-green in alkaline (basic) environments with a pH greater than 7.
Red cabbage is just one of many indicators that are available to scientists. Some
indicators start out colorless and turn blue or pink, for example, when they mix with a
base. If there is no color change at all, the substance that you are testing is probably
neutral, just like water.
Science Fair Connection:
Red Cabbage Chemistry could be a great science fair project. Once you have tested the
various chemicals and household substances listed above and have a clear
understanding of acids and bases, you could make a few changes, run some new tests,
and make some comparisons.

Try testing a variety of beverages to see which ones are the most acidic. Some
people think Starbucks coffee is very acidic. Could you use the red cabbage juice and the
process described above to run some tests of different brands of coffee to see if those
claims are true?

What happens when you put pieces of acid-reducing medication in acidic liquids?
Choose one acidic liquid and test different brands of acid reducers to see which ones are
the most effective. Just make sure you use the same "dosage" of acid reducer and the
same form of acid reducer (liquid vs tablet) and the same amount and type of acidic
liquid so that your tests are fair and your conditions are standardized as much as

Is a liquid or a tablet acid reducer more effective? Use the same brand and the
same "dosage" of medication and put it in the same amount and type of acidic liquid.
The only variable you're testing is the difference between the liquid and the tablet
medication. Do they both work? Does one work more quickly to reduce the acid?
Be sure that you only change one variable at a time, make your comparisons, and
document your results. Who knew that such a simple kitchen chemistry demonstration
could have such real world applications? Many adults at the science fair will be glad to
know the results of your research!
- See more at:
Make a Cabbage Juice pH Indicator
You may have heard that citrus juices are acids or that ammonia is a base. The terms
acid and base refer to the concentration of hydrogen ions (pH) in the substance; acids
have a high concentration of hydrogen ions, while bases have a low concentration of
hydrogen ions. But how can you test whether a substance is an acid or base? In this
experiment, you will make your own pH indicator from red cabbage and use it to measure
some liquids to see whether they are acids or bases.
What You Need to Do the Experiment
You will need:

A head of red cabbage

A stove

A pot

Distilled water

A funnel or coffee filter basket

Coffee filters

A set of eyedropper bottles (e.g., clean infant medicine bottles)

A medicine cup with teaspoon or milliliter markings

Several small paper cups

Some clear test substances (e.g., lemon juice, clear sports drink, lemon-lime soda,
window cleaner, vinegar).
Performing the Experiment
To prepare the indicator, shred some red cabbage leaves, place them in small volume of
water (1/2 cup) in the pot, bring the pot to a boil on the stove, and boil for 5-10 minutes
(Note - You should wear some form of eye protection and use pot holders when handling
boiling solutions). Pour the water with the boiled leaves through the coffee filter to
remove the pieces of cabbage, collect the filtered juice in a clean glass, and let it cool; it
should appear purple. You can then pour the juice into the eyedropper bottles for use and
storage. This filtered juice is your pH indicator. Note that the concentration of the
indicator solution depends upon the amount of cabbage and the volume of water used;
the more cabbage in the smallest possible volume of water will yield a high concentration
of indicator molecules.
To use your pH indicator, pour about 2 teaspoons (10 ml) of each test substance into a
separate Dixie cup. To each cup, add approximately 1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) of cabbage juice
indicator. Now watch for the color changes! If the substance is an acid (i.e. lemon juice),
the indicator should turn bright pink. If the substance is neutral (i.e. Gatorade), then the
indicator should remain reddish-purple. Finally, if the substance is a base (i.e. window
cleaner), then the indicator should turn green.
What Actually Happened
By boiling the red cabbage leaves, you extracted a class of pigment molecules called
anthocyanins into solution. Anthocyanin molecules will change their color depending
upon the pH of their environment and can indicate the pH of a solution). This experiment
will tell you whether a substance is an acid or base, but not the exact value of pH; the pH
scale ranges from acid (0-6), through neutral (7) to base (8-14). If you want to calibrate
your cabbage juice pH indicator, you will have to test your substances with another
quantitative indicator (e.g. litmus paper) and compare those results to the colors of the
cabbage juice pH indicator in those solutions; litmus paper can be obtained from several
scientific suppliers (i.e. Fisher Scientific, Carolina Biological, Edmund Scientific) or from
your local swimming pool store.

Make your own pH indicator solution! Red cabbage juice contains a natural pH indicator
that changes colors according to the acidity of the solution. Red cabbage juice indicator
is easy to make, exhibits a wide range of colors, and can be used to make your own pH
paper strips (watch the video).
Red cabbage contains a pigment molecule called flavin (an anthocyanin). This watersoluble pigment is also found in apple skin, plums, poppies, cornflowers, and grapes.

Very acidic solutions will turn anthocyanin a red color. Neutral solutions result in a
purplish color. Basic solutions appear in greenish-yellow. Therefore, it is possible to
determine the pH of a solution based on the color it turns the anthocyanin pigments in
red cabbage juice.
The color of the juice changes in response to changes in its hydrogen ion concentration.
pH is the -log[H+]. Acids will donate hydrogen ions in an aqueous solution and have a low
pH (pH 7).

red cabbage
blender or knife
boiling water
filter paper (coffee filters work well)
One large glass beaker or other glass container
Six 250 mL beakers or other small glass containers
household ammonia (NH3)
baking soda (sodium bicarbonate, NaHCO3)
washing soda (sodium carbonate, Na2CO3)
lemon juice (citric acid, C6H8O7)
vinegar (acetic acid, CH3COOH)
cream of tartar (Potassium bitartrate, KHC4H4O6)
antacids (calcium carbonate, calcium hydroxide, magnesium hydroxide)
seltzer water (carbonic acid, H2CO3)
muriatic acid or masonry's cleaner (hydrochloric acid, HCl)
lye (potassium hydroxide, KOH or sodium hydroxide, NaOH)

Chop the cabbage into small pieces until you have about 2 cups of chopped
cabbage. Place the cabbage in a large beaker or other glass container and add boiling
water to cover the cabbage. Allow at least ten minutes for the color to leach out of
the cabbage. (Alternatively, you can place about 2 cups of cabbage in a blender,
cover it with boiling water, and blend it.)


Filter out the plant material to obtain a red-purple-bluish colored liquid. This liquid
is at about pH 7. (The exact color you get depends on the pH of the water.)


Pour about 50 - 100 mL of your red cabbage indicator into each 250 mL beaker.


Add various household solutions to your indicator until a color change is obtained.
Use separate containers for each household solution - you don't want to mix
chemicals that don't go well together!


This demo uses acids and bases, so please make certain to use safety goggles
and gloves, particularly when handling strong acids (HCl) and strong bases (NaOH or

Chemicals used in this demo may be safely washed down the drain with water.

A neutralization experiment could be performed using cabbage juice indicator.

First add an acidic solution such as vinegar or lemon juice until a reddish color is
obtained. Then add baking soda or antacids to return the pH towards a neutral 7.

You can make your own pH paper strips using red cabbage indicator. Take filter
paper (or coffee filter) and soak it in a concentrated red cabbage juice solution. After
a few hours, remove the paper and allow it to dry (hang it by a clothespin or string).
Cut the filter into strips and use them to test the pH of various solutions.
Red Cabbage pH Indicator Colors










Greenish Yellow

Problem Scenario
If you have a pet that tends to get nervous or anxious when left at home alone, is it
possible that playing music while you're gone will calm it or help in any way?

Broad Question
Does music affect animal/plant behavior?

Specific Question
Does the presence/absence of music affect earthworm habitat choice?

My hypothesis is that more earthworms will choose the habitat with music playing.

Graph of Hypothesis

Independent Variable:
Presence/absence of music

Dependent Variable:
Habitat choice of earthworms

Variables That Need To Be Controlled:

Soil type
Earthworm and habitat treatment
Habitat size

Vocabulary List That Needs Explanation

Prostomium- the sensory lobe on an earthworm (located on the head)
Phonology-the branch of science and medicine concerned with the sense of hearing.
Oligochaetology-the study of earthworms

General Plan
For my experiment I am going to be testing earthworms to see if they are affected by
music. There will be a habitat evenly set up at my house with speakers playing music on
one end of the habitat. I will set up my experiment in the living room and make sure
nobody is around to mess it up and the temperature doesn't change. The earthworms will
be placed directly in the center of the habitat. I will count up how many earthworms
move towards/away from the music. Then using the data I can find the conclusion for my
specific question.

Potential Problems And Solutions

There are some potential problems I may encounter in my experiment that will need a
solution. One is that there is a chance of somebody knocking over or moving the
experiment. To prevent this I can tell everyone to stay away from the area. Another
possible problem is a change in lighting or temperature. The temperature can be
controlled by keeping the experiment in the same spot. To control light, I can place the
experiment in front of a window and make sure no other light sources are on. Lastly,
different music might effect earthworms differently. I will play the same song
continuously so there is no change in tempo or pitch.

Safety Or Environmental Concerns

Environmental or safety concerns in my project include the worms escaping and getting
lost somewhere in my house. Another concern is that the earthworms may die in the
process of my experiment and I will have to start over. A safety concern is that I will need
to wash my hands to keep anything bad from touching the worms.

Experimental Design
Controlled, manipulated experiment
What is your experimental unit?
20 earthworms, 1 song

Number Of Trials:

Number Of Subjects In Each trial:


Number of Observations:

When data will be collected

February 23

Where will data be collected?:

In my living room next to a window

Resources and Budget Table


Number needed

Where I will get this

Estimated Cost

Live earthworms




Box (habitat)




Layer in habitat



Detailed Procedure
1. Get materials
2. Place box by window
3. Tell everyone not to come near experiment
4. Put small layer of soil in box
5. Set up speakers for music outside of the box on one side
6. Place earthworms directly in the center of the box
7. Tally up how many earthworms move towards/away from the music
8. Clean up experiment
9. Make graph of results


Photo List
My photos will be taken during the experiment at my house.

Time Line
February 23- do experiment
March 3- analysis finished
March 8- discussion and background finished
March 22- poster finished
March 29- ready to present at science fair

Data Table

Did it move towards music?
































Data Analysis
All Raw Data
See data table


The bar graph is a representation of this data showing the number of earthworms and
whether or not they moved towards the speakers. I tested 20 earthworms total and 15 of
them moved towards the music. The graph shows that the dependent variable
(earthworms habitat choice) was effected by the independent variable (music).

Printed on paper.

My hypothesis was correct, earthworms are effected by the presence/absence of music.
There were only five out of 20 earthworms that did not move towards the music.

The data of my experiment proved my hypothesis correct and I was able to answer my
specific question. The relationship between the independent and dependent variable is

strong because 75% of the earthworms were effected by the music. The experiment was
successful with no errors.
My experiment may help our understanding of how animals react to sound waves.
Although earthworms have no ears, they still were attracted to the music. In the real
world, earthworm farmers can use this information for their worms.
In the future this experiment can be improved upon for further knowledge and benefits to
science/society. Instead of using earthworms, other animals could be tested as well.
Different kinds of music can be played to see whether the animals react differently to
different genres. Hopefully my experiment will benefit in understanding animals.

Benefit to Community and/or Science

My experiment benefits the community and science because if you have earthworms in a
garden, music may effect some of them and perhaps playing music to other animals can
calm them.

Background Research
Music has been believed to effect animals since Ancient Egyptian times. The Egyptians
had started a skill known as "snake charming". They used this for entertainment but also
believed that snake charming could heal wounds by pleasing the sacred Gods. Snake
charming is still used today in Southern Asia and North Africa. Snakes however are not
the only animals who are effected by music. A cellist from the National Symphony
Orchestra tested music on a monkey species known as cotton-top tamarins. He played
two heavy-metal type songs and two calming ballads. The heavy-metal songs did not
affect the monkeys, but when the tamarins heard the ballads they showed signs of
emotion such as shaking their heads and slowing down activities. A similar test was done
with dogs. The dogs also showed emotions when listening to the music; they were
relaxed when listening to classical and more active with rock.
Plants are also affected by music. When classical music was played near the plants, they
grew leaning towards the speakers. Although when hard rock was played, the plants
leaned away from the speakers. However, in both types of music the plants died if it was
played continuously. When the music was played only three hours a day the plants
flourished. In the 1950's an experiment was conducted using wheat crops. The music
increased the production of the wheat by 66%.
Two groups of mice were to be sent into a maze and try to find their way out. The first
group was exposed to the rhythmical sound of traditional voodoo drumming. The second
group stayed in silence. When sent into the maze, the first group of mice completed it
much faster than the second group. But when the voodoo drumming played for too long
the mice became disoriented and were unable to finish the maze. Some say that music
has a strong emotional effect on the human soul. If humans enjoy listening to music,
than why not animals?


For this year's science fair I tested the question: does the presence/absence of music
affect earthworm habitat choice? My hypothesis was that music does affect earthworm
habitat choice. Based on background research, other animals were tested with music and
in most occasions the animals were affected. My procedure began with getting all
materials and putting a large box in front of a window. Then I put a small layer of soil on
the bottom of box and kept everyone away from knocking it over. I set up the speakers,
turned on the music, and placed the earthworms in the center of the box to find my
results. These results proved my hypothesis to be correct because 15 out of 20
earthworms did move towards music. This benefits the community for people who have
pets which may be affected by music, and also helps science in better understanding
animal behavior and emotions. My project proves that animals can be affected by music.