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Teaching Methods

Equilibrium in honors chem

Started over 3 years ago by Loyola Pasiewicz.

We are about to start the equilibrium unit in my honors level chemistry class. Each year, students struggle with this unit and the math that goes along with it.  In the unit we look at: what is equilibrium, which way will equilibrium shift, Q compared to K and we use RICE (or ICE) tables. We also look at Ksp and molar solubility and I like the Ksp Phet simulation.  Often students get lost in the math and forget to connect it back to what it all means for the particles in the system.

What are your favorite equilibrium activities that allow students to not only conceptually understand equilibrium but also to get them better at understanding and connecting the math needed for the problem?  


  • Chad Bridle

    Posted about 3 years ago

    I have a modified version of a POGIL activity that I find really helpful in establishing a conceptual understanding of equilibrium and then transitioning them to thinking about how we can quantify it.

  • Kaleb Underwood

    Posted over 3 years ago

    I have not seen the Phet Ksp until today, I am very excited to give it a try! Thanks for sharing!
    I like introducing equilibrium with an activity (there are many out there, happy to share the one I made) that have students simulate dynamic equilibrium using pennies or something similar. Students can record data and graph the progress of the reaction as well as investigate LeChatelier's Principle.
    After this I move to the quantitative treatment of equilibrium (K, Q, RICE tables). I have found that equilibrium math is very manageable for students IF you connect it to stoichiometry and help them realize that equilibrium calculations and stoichiometry calculations are exactly the same thing, except the equilibrium process does not go to completion. This is aided if you show them stoichiometry using a Table Method. I presented a webinar on this last month and you'll see that it is exactly the same as a RICE table except the reaction goes to completion (no x required) in non-equilibrium situations. I think that it will help with your desire to get students to connect the math to the conceptual idea of equilibrium.
    My webinar on the Table Method of teaching Stoichiometry: https://teachchemistry.org/professional-development/webinars/a-visual-and-intuitive-approach-to-stoichiometry

  • Diana Simpson

    Posted over 3 years ago

    I have a Le Chatelier's lab I do with my students that shows them equilibrium using four different reactions: saturated soln, acid/base indicator, complex ion & another complex ion using temperature changes and ppt formation. None of these involve math, but they are very visual in seeing what is going on and can be related to the math IF you go into the concentrations. For the math part, I just keep drilling them with ICE tables and a variety of equilibriums that I can relate to the lab we have done, by giving them concentrations for the species within the saturation equilibrium and showing them the actual, visual and comparing it to what the calculation says should happen, for example.