Gas Laws Interactive Notebook

INB page - PV=nRT

This post shares something very special – my favorite ever foldable. I designed it a few years ago to help students see the relationships that exist in the Combined Gas Law. This foldable is used differently than most – instead of starting with closed flaps, you start with all of the flaps OPEN. The effect is transformative. Read on to hear about it in the context of my gas laws interactive notebook. I have a variety of pages and practice activities/manipulatives for gas laws, so you can choose and adapt to fit your needs and standards.

I start the unit off with a page on pressure. This page defines pressure, addresses various pressure units and their conversions, goes through the tenants of the kinetic molecular theory and includes Dalton’s Law of Partial Pressure. It has quite a lot going on! I have started teaching these topics by using a menu so that students have a variety of ways to explore the concepts that support our understanding of pressure. They choose how they will learn it and how they will practice it, and then they construct and answer three questions per topic based on Depth of Knowledge (DOK) question stems. They also include a photo of their completed notebook page. This activity takes two standard class periods to complete, and I always give them one additional night in case they need more time to finish up.1 

One thing I do consistently throughout this unit is color code the variables. By having a consistent color scheme for the variables (see figure 1), students can see in a very visible way the ways in which the properties relate to each other in gases. I establish the colors from the first page of the unit and continue to carry them through to the end.

After pressure, I have students explore the variables. We used to teach the named relationships (Boyle’s, Charles’ and Gay-Lussac’s Laws) but now we use the combined gas law to show the relationships that are discernable within it. We also have an initiative towards more student-centered learning and away from direct instruction. These two changes led me to redesign my gas properties foldable. I have shared both versions with you: the original version names the gas laws and then has students explore and make notes about those relationships. The new version lists the 4 variables used in gas laws and explores the relationships between them, but doesn’t name the individual laws themselves. The original version probably works best as a scaffold for direct instruction, a reading or a video, where the new version has students work independently or in groups to explore the relationships by the using the PhET Gas Laws SIM. The new foldable would also work well as a jigsaw activity.

Figure 1: Combined Gas Law Foldable 

The combined gas law comes next in our progression, and it’s here where I use my favorite foldable that I ever designed (see figure 1)! If you have been focusing on the “ABC gas laws”, I also like to have students include a statement on this page that says “The combined gas law contains all the other gas laws!” This really helps to drive home to students that they can manipulate the combined gas law for any combination of variables. As we work through practice problems in class, I also have students use colored pencils the first few times they attempt a new kind of problem to help them differentiate between the variables. For the output page for the Combined Gas Law I use the gradual release method to model and solve the problems after differentiating between variables. The problems use different combinations of variables and units and requires students to make decisions about how to substitute into the combined gas law.

The final gas law that’s covered in our notebooks is the ideal gas law. This year I realized that my students needed support in not only identifying what variables were present, but also how to substitute into the equation. To scaffold this task, I created a new Ideal Gas Law foldable. This is a simple hot dog fold with a flap for each (color coded) variable. The foldable is just wider than a strip of duct tape. Inside the foldable, students place a strip of duct tape. A few years ago I saw an interactive notebooking blog that mentioned that duct tape was dry erasable and it was a GAME CHANGER. Using this strip of duct tape, students can substitute into the ideal gas law for many different problems. Underneath the flaps we also note the units that are required for each variable to match the units prescribed by the universal gas constant. I encourage them to continue to use this scaffold until they are comfortable manipulating the ideal gas law. I find that I don’t have to force the removal of this scaffold– they naturally begin to solve problems without it.

The end of our gas laws unit is a return to stoichiometry. We cover non-ideal gas stoichiometry by performing a lab and doing calculations with their data using the ideal gas law. There are several great options for a lab like this online, on ChemEd X and on AACT. I have shared a table of PV=nRT practice that I have used as output in the past for students that need extra help, but a higher-level output activity would be a gas stoichiometry lab. It’s a great culminating activity for a gases unit.

If you are having any trouble visualizing what these pages will look like in action, check out the video below.

Gas Laws INB Pages

Video: Gas Laws INB pages, ChemEd X Vimeo Channel, 5/5/2002.


gas laws

Composition notebooks, printed copies of each page, scissors, tape or glue

**A note on my manipulatives: If you see a dashed line, that is where the item should be cut. If you see dotted lines, that means fold.


For backstory about how Nora uses interactive notebooks, view a recording of her ChemEd X Talk: Integrating Interactive Notebooks into Chemistry Courses with Nora Walsh and read her previous post, Interactive Notebook Unit on Stoichiometry. Nora wrote the following in response to questions she received after her ChemEd X Talk: A Classroom View of Using Interactive Notebook Pages.

Nora's interactive notebook units published so far: Scientific ReasoningScience of MatterAtomic StructurePeriodic TableBondingReactionsStoichiometry, Gas Laws, and Thermochemistry. She plans to publish all of her units here on ChemEd X.


Spread 1: Pressure

Right side – Pressure

This page includes:

  • Students create a pressure flap that has a definition underneath
  • Unit of pressure designed by the students – a ¼ sheet made into a hamburger fold works well for this
  • Kinetic molecular theory illustration with space underneath for the parts they need to know
  • Barometer illustration (if you want/need to include this information)
    • Note: If you will be doing a lab using a eudiometer, knowing how a barameter works helps them to understand parts of the procedure.
  • Dalton’s law of partial pressure diagram flap -the equation and values that correspond to the particle view are underneath

Left Side – Applications of Pressure

There are many great options here:

  • Some kind of pressure practice or mind map.
  • I have used flaps with practice problems before, and I have included those in the page materials.
  • I think next year I will have students illustrate a scenario from their lives and label pressures at play with different units. Then I’ll have them perform the conversions. (Maybe they draw a car sitting in a parking lot, and label the psi in the tires, the atmospheric pressure in the sky, etc.)


Spread 2: Gas Laws/Gas Properties

Right Side: Gas Laws Foldable

  • Option 1: Student-created Gas Laws three or four part foldable labeled with gas law names: Boyle’s Law, Charles’ Law, Avogadro’s Law, Gay-Lussac’s Law
    • There is no template for this as it is created by students, but see the photo of this page above for an example


  • Option 2: Gas Laws PhET Foldable2,3
    • Template for this is attached
    • Students will need access to the PhET interactive to complete this foldable
    • Directions are included in the foldable itself

Left side option 1: Gas Variables concept web (high student creativity)

  • Student created diagram that show the features of the variables we use in gas laws and the relationships between them
  • There is no template for this, but see the photos above for  examples

Left side option 2: Gas Laws Variables Scaffold (low student creativity)

  • This scaffold helps students practice identifying the sets of variables for Boyle’s Law, Charles’ Law, Gay-Lussac’s Law


Spread 3 – Combined Gas Law

Right side: Combined Gas Law4

On this page, students either write the combined gas law or paste in the foldable (or both). Some students will not need the extra support of the foldable and may choose to bypass it. This year I didn’t release the foldable until the second day of practice. In retrospect, I think I will go back to having all students paste the foldable onto this page – the physical act of covering the constant variable and the resulting relationship really is helpful for many students. 

  • Template for foldable is attached.

Left Side: Color Coded Gas Laws Practice

I have ten problems that I have student solve with colored pencils. They underline and label the given factors, and circle and label the unknown factor. Then they solve the problems.

*I did not write these problems – I selected varied problems from other sources.


Spread 4 – Ideal Gas Law

Right Side: PV = nRT

  • Notes on ideal gas law and R
  • PV=nRT foldable with duct tape underneath

Left Side: Ideal Gas Law Practice

Options for this page:

  • PV=nRT practice table (attached)
  • Ideal gas law lab
  • Color by number or escape room activity




Provide copies of the following for each student. Note that I have grouped the components by page. Please preview them before printing as some pages have multiple copies to minimize paper waste.

PDF icon Interactive Notebook Rubric – Gases

Spread 1: PDF icon Pressure

Spread 2: PDF icon Gas Law PhET Foldable,  PDF icon Gas Laws Variable Scaffold

Spread 3: PDF icon Gas Law PracticePDF icon Combined Gas Law FoldablePDF icon Gas Law In-Class Practice

Spread 4: PDF icon Ideal Gas Law FoldablePDF icon Ideal Gas Law Practice

  1. You can check out the Gas Laws Topics and Menu document that I used this year in case you might be interested in exploring it. Note that this is for reference only and the links may not be available or maintained.
  2. I previously submitted the Gas Law PhET foldable to the PhET site
  3. Mihir Paranjape is a colleague at my school and they collaborated with me on the PhET foldable
  4. A previous version of the combined gas law was previously published: Walsh, K. E.;  Thomas, J. A.; Walsh, N. G. Using Foldables® in a College Chemistry Course, The Hoosier Science Teacher, Volume XXXVI, 2, Winter 2010, 55-63.  


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Comments 5

Emily Markovitz's picture
Emily Markovitz | Fri, 03/03/2023 - 14:48


Thank you for posting your resources! I have been using them a lot this year and they are excellent. I have a quick question - What is the gas laws variable scaffold? The link listed above leads to the gas laws in class practice. Are those supposed to be the same? Thanks!

Nora Walsh's picture
Nora Walsh | Mon, 03/06/2023 - 10:32

Hi Emily! I'm so glad you like the materials!

The gas laws variable scaffold and the in-class practice are the same. I titled it in-class practice for my students. I should probably change the title so they match. Thanks for asking!

Emily Markovitz's picture
Emily Markovitz | Sun, 03/12/2023 - 11:41

Oh, so the "gas law in-class practice" that's listed with spread 3 goes with spread 2 (titled "gas laws variable scaffold")? That makes sense. Thanks for replying back!

Shawna Wright | Mon, 03/18/2024 - 09:33

Thank you for all the wonderful resources!

Do you collect notebooks to grade them? Do you check in mid-unit?

I found your rubrics were included with each unit! Thank you!

Nora Walsh's picture
Nora Walsh | Mon, 03/18/2024 - 12:06

Hi Shawna, I'm so happy that you find them useful!

I no longer grade the notebooks as a whole, although I have in the past. Here is what I used to do, versus what I do now:

-In the past, I used the rubrics and I went around during test day and flipped through each student's notebook at their desk while they were testing. This was the most efficient way to grade all the notebooks without taking their resource from them. I used a highlighter and highlighted missing items and the overall score.

-Now, I do spot-checks by announcing to students that I want them to post pictures of p.xx on Google Classroom. They take a picture with their Chromebook and post the photo so I can score that page. I find that this is easier on me, keeps them from falling very far behind, and is easier for parents to see what students are/are not doing with their notebook.

Both ways have pros and cons. For me, the main driving force behind the change to posting photos was social distancing, but I liked the fact that it spread out the reviewing process and made more consistent accountability so I kept doing it!