In this simulation, students will have the opportunity to investigate several factors that can affect the initial rate of a chemical reaction. Students will 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. These reaction rates will be compared to a controlled reaction. Students will interpret a simplified qualitative representation of the reaction as well as analyze corresponding data organized on a graph.
High or Middle school
By the end of this simulation, students should be able to
- Explain how specific variables may impact the rate of a chemical reaction. Variables include: concentration, temperature, or surface area, as well as the addition of a catalyst.
- Describe how the factors affect the behavior of particles during a chemical reaction.
- Analyze data presented on a graph, and interpret its meaning.
This simulation supports students’ understanding of
- Chemical Reactions
- Reaction Rates
Teacher Preparation: minimal
Lesson: 30-45 minutes
- Computer, tablet or phone with internet access
- Student Activity handout
No specific safety precautions need to be observed for this activity.
- This simulation could be used as part of a teacher-led lecture to support content explanation, or it could be used as a student investigation with the accompanying student activity.
- The goal of this simulation is to provide a basic conceptual understanding of the variables that can affect the rate of reaction. There is no intended correlation between the animated portion of the reaction sequence and any intermediate steps that may take place during a reaction.
- The simulation is showing a simplified particle view of the initial rate of reaction before equilibrium is reached (5 second time frame only). The reverse reaction is not being considered in this simulation.
- A simple synthesis reaction is shown in this simulation, A + B → C, or, red + blue → purple.
- The reaction takes place in a beaker that is 3-dimensional. Reactants and/or products may appear to make contact with one another with no perceived intermolecular consequence. This is due to the inability to demonstrate the full volume of contents in the beaker.
- It is recommended that students engage with this before they are formally introduced to factors that can affect the rate of a reaction. Additional resources that can support teaching this concept are:
- Demonstration: Comparing Rates of Reaction
- Lab: Plop, Fizz: How to Affect the Rate of a Chemical Reaction
- Demonstration: Rates of Reaction
- Lab: Reaction Rate
- Students can easily access this simulation from the following link:
For the Student
In this investigation you will investigate the factors that can affect the rate of a chemical reaction. Access the simulation here: teachchemistry.org/reaction-rates
- Run the reaction. Record your observations as you examine the effect of each variable.
- Describe in one sentence the meaning
of the graph produced by:
- The controlled reaction:
- Increasing the concentration of reactants:
- Decreasing the surface area of reactants:
- Making specific reference to the behavior of
particles explain why the rate of reaction is affected by:
- Temperature Change:
- Surface Area:
- Based on what you have learned brainstorm (or
complete internet research to help you) an everyday example of:
- The effect of temperature change on reaction rate:
- The effect of surface area on reaction rate:
- The effect of adding a catalyst on reaction rate:
- The effect of concentration on reaction rate: