The lab activity shared here is a simple experiment where students use stoichiometric principles to experimentally determine the amount of sodium bicarbonate in an Alka-Seltzer tablet. Novice students tend to find stoichiometric calculations difficult, so practicing the calculations on a pre-lab assignment boosts their confidence and ultimately leads to more successful labs. The Asynchronous Video Pre-Lab Assignment shared here demonstrates the procedure and the calculations required in the experiment.
The Golden Drain is a case study developed by Sharma and Wolfgang where students work to uncover a company’s lost revenue due to the error of a new employee.
In this virtual activity, a video introduces stoichiometry and guides students to think conceptually using a simple baking analogy. Afterward, stoichiometry calculations connect to the analogy, that are then reinforced with a simple experiment. Finally, students explore a PhET simulation to deepen their knowledge.
The first unit in my sequence for AP Chemistry covers stoichiometry and reactions. The new AP Chemistry Course and Exam Description has identified Learning Objectives which need to be taught and practiced to ensure students perform well on the AP Chemistry Exam. I will identify and describe activities I use to teach students some of the Learning Objectives that I tie into this unit.
This lab is one of my favorite activities to do in my classes and I look forward to it every year. The lab is simple, requires limited supplies, students love it (i.e. high engagement level), and I have found it to really set students up for stoichiometry.
Did you figure out how the experiment in Chemical Mystery #14 was performed? The solution is presented here!
It can be difficult to engage students in reviewing for semester exams by using worksheets or practicing problems on the whiteboard. If you are looking to change up your review plans, you might consider using a lab activity that provides opportunity to revisit many of the topics that need to be covered.
Recently, my district made a commitment to helping its teachers reflect and rethink their grading and assessment practices. One of the phrases I kept hearing throughout our staff professional development sessions was authentic assessment. I understood (and agreed with) the basic premise—create more opportunities for students to perform tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills. Doing so involves going beyond, or even potentially replacing, traditional summative assessments at the end of each unit.
A solid grasp of proportional thinking is crucial to being able to solve all sorts of problems in chemistry as well as “real life” situations. While many students seem to intuitively understand that one mole is equal to 6.022 x 1023 particles when the analogy is drawn to a dozen eggs, for some, this sort of equality is a puzzling mystery.
In my class, I use the illustration of a mountain to help students push through the challenges of chemistry. Stoichiometry is the top of chemistry mountain. As we progress through the year, I say things like “the mountain is getting steep here!” or “there is not a lot of oxygen up here!” or “I will carry you up chemistry mountain if I have to!” to keep students motivated. When students finally get to the top of chemistry mountain (mid quarter 3), the air is thin, they are tired and they are ready to base jump off the mountain (see illustration from a former student below).