Kinetics Review

In one of my last blog posts I wrote of how I sometimes enjoy ending a unit with a series of demonstrations and using them to elicit a dialog between the students and myself to check for understanding. It is always a fascinating experience to hear the misconceptions that many students have the day before the test.

A Chemist Celebrates the International Year of Light

Happy New Year!  Did you know that 2015 is the International Year of Light (IYL)? IYL is a “global initiative adopted by the United Nations to raise awareness of how optical technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to worldwide challenges in energy, education, agriculture, communications and health1”.  IYL is sponsored by several organizations with interests in science and science education, including the European Physical Society, the Institute of Physics, the American Physical Society, and the American Institute of Physics.  You can find several lesson plans, videos and other educational resources on the IYL website2

Flipping Pennies and Burning Candles: Adventures in Kinetics

In this Activity, students collect data to determine whether two processes, flipping pennies and burning small birthday candles, follow zeroth- or first-order rate laws. Students first collect data on the number of pennies remaining "heads up" after several successive tosses and then measure the mass of a burning candle over time.

Out of the Blue

In this Activity, students first prepare a standard formulation for a variation on the classic blue bottle reaction using consumer chemicals. They then make appropriate changes to the formulation and observe the results to determine the roles played by each reactant. This Activity could be used with units on chemical kinetics and oxidation-reduction reactions.

Determining Rate of Flow through a Funnel

In this Activity, students make funnels using plastic beverage bottles and rubber stoppers with differing numbers of holes or sizes of holes. They then determine the rate of flow of water through the funnels and identify factors that affect the rate of flow. This Activity uses easy-to-observe phenomena that model a chemical reaction with an identifiable rate-controlling step.