Kinetics Unit Plan (1 Favorite)

LESSON PLAN in Reaction Rate, Reaction Rate, Catalysts, Activation Energy. Last updated March 7, 2019.


The AACT high school classroom resource library and multimedia collection has everything you need to put together a unit plan for your classroom: lessons, activities, labs, projects, videos, simulations, and animations. We constructed a unit plan using AACT resources that is designed to teach the topic of kinetics to your students.

Grade Level

High School


By the end of this unit, students should be able to

  • Understand that chemical reactions occur at different rates.
  • Identify four factors that may affect rates of chemical reactions.
  • Explain the relationship between reaction time and rate.
  • Describe how temperature affects the rate of a chemical reaction.
  • Describe how concentration of reactants affects the rate of a chemical reaction.
  • Describe how particle size or surface area affects the rate of a chemical reaction.
  • Determine if a factor will increase or decrease the rate of a reaction.
  • Create a data table and use it to record and analyze observations.
  • Analyze data presented on a graph, and interpret its meaning.
  • Make predictions based on the data collected during the experiment.
  • Devise a method to measure reaction rate.
  • Design a controlled experiment.
  • Indicate the effect of a catalyst on a reaction.
  • Identify a decomposition chemical reaction and its products.
  • Distinguish between endothermic and exothermic reactions.
  • Apply Collision Theory to explain the importance of the rate determining step and catalysts.
  • Identify key parts of a Reaction Mechanism such as rate determining step, intermediates, catalysts, proposed rate law, and reaction profile graph.
  • Justify the validity of a proposed mechanism.

Chemistry Topics

This unit supports students’ understanding of

  • Kinetics
  • Reaction Rates
  • Activation Energy
  • Collision Theory
  • Effective and Ineffective Collisions
  • Catalyst
  • Reaction Mechanisms
  • Rate Determining Step
  • Chemical Reactions
  • Indicators of Chemical Change
  • Observations
  • Classification of Reactions
  • Solutions
  • Solubility


Teacher Preparation: See individual resources.

Lesson: 8-12 class periods, depending on class level.


  • Refer to the materials list given with each individual activity.


  • Refer to the safety instructions given with each individual activity.

Teacher Notes

  • The activities shown below are listed in the order that they should be completed.
  • The teacher notes, student handouts, and additional materials can be accessed on the page for each individual activity.
  • Please note that most of these resources are AACT member benefits.

Classroom Resources

  • Start the unit with one or more of the following demonstrations to help your students visualize what the term “reaction rate” means.
    • In the demonstration, Comparing Rates of Reaction, students observe the effect of temperature, concentration, and particle size on the rate of a chemical reaction. This resource includes alignment with NGSS performance expectations and AP Chemistry Big Ideas.
    • In the Rates of Reactions series of demonstrations, students are introduced to factors that affect the rates of chemical reactions. They observe and record their observations, while also describing the rate-influencing factor for each demonstration, as well as evidence supporting whether or not the reaction rate was increased or decreased by the factor.
    • In the Simple Kinetics demonstration, students observe that different colors of food dye react with bleach at different rates. They are then challenged to explain their observations and use critical thinking skills. This resource includes alignment with NGSS performance expectations and AP Chemistry Big Ideas.
  • Then use the simulation, Investigating Reaction Rates to give students the opportunity to investigate several factors that can affect the initial rate of a chemical reaction. They also have the opportunity to manipulate several variables including concentration, temperature, or surface area of the reactants as well as the addition of a catalyst during the simulation. The reaction rates are then compared to a controlled reaction. Students interpret a simplified qualitative representation of the reaction as well as analyze corresponding data organized on a graph.
  • Following the simulation, use one or more of our reaction rate labs to give your students hands on activity to explore reactions.
    • Students react Alka-Seltzer tablets with water in the lab, Plop, Fizz: How to Affect the Rate of a Chemical Reaction. By varying the temperature of the water, particle size of the Alka-Seltzer, and concentration of the Alka-Seltzer they will observe the effect on the rate and strength of the chemical reaction.
    • Students observe how particle size, solvent temperature, and agitation affect rate of solution in the Rate of Solution lab. This resource includes alignment with AP Chemistry Big Ideas.
    • Students explore factors that affect reaction rate and develop a general statement that describes how the factors (temperature, particle size, and concentration) effect the rate based on experimental data with the inquiry-based lab, Reaction Rate.
    • Students perform an iodine clock reaction to determine how concentration and temperature effect the reaction rate in the lab, Starch-Iodine Clock Reaction. This resource includes alignment with AP Chemistry Big Ideas.
  • Then use the demonstration, Catalyst in Motion to allow your students to visualize how a catalyst can impact a chemical reaction. Students also identify the products of a decomposition reaction, as well as determine if the reaction was endothermic or exothermic based on their observations.
  • Follow the concept of catalysts with the Reaction Mechanisms lesson plan to give students the opportunity to explore reaction mechanisms and their connection to rate laws and energy profile graphs through a game, relay race, and finally a chemical demonstration. This resource includes alignment with AP Chemistry Big Ideas.
  • For more practice use the Mechanisms and Rate Laws webpage from California State University Dominguez Hills, which provides exercises relating reaction mechanisms to the appropriate rate laws. When you click "New Problem", you will find an overall reaction, the reaction mechanism and the set of possible rate laws. If you miss a problem three times, pressing "Show Answer" will cause the correct answer to appear.
  • If you teach equilibrium before kinetics, have your students investigate the reaction of the hydrogen sulfite ion (HSO3-) and the iodate ion (IO3-) to determine the effect that changing concentration and temperature has on the reaction rate with the Kinetics and Equilibrium lab. This resource includes alignment with NGSS performance expectations and AP Chemistry Big Ideas.
  • Additionally, if you teach both equilibrium and thermochemistry before kinetics, use the lesson plan, Making Connections in Kinetics, Equilibrium and Thermochemistry to show students the connections between the equilibrium constant (K) and the reaction quotient (Q), as well as how they determine the favorability of a reaction. Students also determine if a reaction is kinetically favored or thermodynamically favored. This resource includes alignment AP Chemistry Big Ideas.
  • If you would like to reiterate some of these concepts, and encourage your students to connect chemical principles to everyday life, use one of the following resources as a culminating activity:
    • The Downside to Catalysts - An Exploration of CFC's on the Ozone Layer: In this lesson students make observations of a colorful homogenous catalyst and intermediate in a reaction demonstration that will spark their interests. They then work in teams to analyze graphs and data sets in order to make a real-world connection to AP topics in kinetics such as catalysts, intermediates and reaction mechanisms by exploring how CFCs work to break down the ozone layer. Students also investigate and discuss this environmental issue. This resource includes alignment AP Chemistry Big Ideas.
    • Use the Catalytic Converters Video to investigate the role of a catalytic converter and its corresponding chemical reactions within a vehicle. Students learn about both oxidation and reduction reactions and how they, in combination with a catalyst, can impact the molecules released in a car’s exhaust.
    • Follow the video with the Catalysis & Catalytic Converters lesson to catalysts to expand student knowledge of chemical reactions and stoichiometry. They first learn about catalytic converters and then are challenged to create the best “catalytic converter” of hydrogen peroxide to oxygen gas in an inquiry-based activity. This resource includes alignment with NGSS standards.