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This paper reports the thermal decomposition of basic copper carbonate and sodium hydrogen carbonate to be carried out by first-year students of a technical institute or a lyceum. These experiments provide reproducible results and are useful for developing important steps of the learning process. Through these experiments, some knowledges on chemical reactions can be deepened, beyond the mass conservation law; moreover, the critical examination of the qualitative and quantitative results allows for correcting a wrong hypothesis, which is very common by the students, that is chemical reactions have to be joined to visible effects. Finally, a particular attention is given to the use of materials which, after their manipulation, give rise to recyclable products or to products suitable to easy disposal.