AACT Resources to Teach Electrochemistry and Kinetics in AP Chemistry

By Kim Duncan on March 27, 2017

In February and March of 2016 I shared a list of AACT classroom activities that could be used to teach the concepts of electrochemistry and kinetics. Since that time we have added over 100 new resources to our High School Resource Library and several of them could be used in an AP Chemistry class.

In the AP curriculum, the concepts of electrochemistry are covered by several learning objectives:

  • 3.12: The student can make qualitative or quantitative predictions about galvanic or electrolytic reactions based on half-cell reactions and potentials and/or Faraday’s laws.
  • 3.13: The student can analyze data regarding galvanic or electrolytic cells to identify properties of the underlying redox reactions.

The following new AACT resources can help you prepare your students to meet these objectives.

In our Four-Way Galvanic Cell lab, students build a simple galvanic cell, measure cell potential, and compare their data to theoretical calculations. Students also have the opportunity to observe and compare numerous electrochemistry reactions. This laboratory activity will help your students to understand reduction and oxidation half reactions that take place in electrochemistry, learn that voltage is the “potential difference” between two reactions, recognize that two chemical reactions take place in order to create a voltage, interpret the activity series in terms of elements that are more or less easily oxidized, build simple galvanic cells and measure cell potential. This lab was created by a teacher participant in the 2015 Dow & AACT Teacher Summit in Midland, Michigan.

Show your students how the concept of electrochemistry touches their lives by implementing a lesson plan about Exploring Automotive Corrosion. In this lesson, students investigate the galvanic corrosion that occurs when different metals on cars interact with each other in the presence of road salt and moisture. This activity will help your students describe and explain galvanic corrosion with respect to the activity series and explain how electrolytes increase the rate of corrosion. If you don’t have enough time to complete this lesson during your electrochemistry unit, consider making it a post AP exam project. This lesson plan is part of the "Chemistry of Cars" series sponsored by the Ford Motor Company.

Lithium ion batteries are all over the news these days, but most students don’t understand what they are or the chemistry involved in them. Use our How Far Can We Go? lesson plan to show your students another connection between chemistry and everyday items. In this lesson students will compare energy densities of different types of batteries to understand the relationship between electrochemical cell potentials and chemical energy. Students will calculate the change in Gibbs free energy, electrical work, and energy densities for lead acid and lithium ion batteries. This lesson plan is also part of the "Chemistry of Cars" series sponsored by the Ford Motor Company.

Kinetics is covered by Big Idea 4 in the AP Chemistry Curriculum Framework which states, “Rates of chemical reactions are determined by details of the molecular collisions.” The following three AACT resources can help your students meet the learning objectives outlines in Big Idea 4.

Beer's Law Discovered is a laboratory investigation where students explore the concepts of light absorption, transmittance, and the relationship between absorbance, path length, and concentration of solution. By the end of this lab, your students will be able to predict how increasing or decreasing the concentration of a solution will affect the absorption of light through a solution, predict how increasing or decreasing the path length of the light will affect absorption of light, and determine the best wavelength to use when measuring absorbance. This lab was created by a participant in the 2016 Dow & ACCT Teacher Summit in Austin, Texas.

The Half-Life Investigation simulation is a great way to introduce the concept of half-life to your students. It gives them the opportunity to observe the decay of unstable atoms. Students can interact with the simulation in order to decay the unstable samples resulting in a visual and graphical interpretation of half-life. This simulation and accompanying lesson were published in the March 2017 issue of Chemistry Solutions.

Use the Starch-Iodine Clock Reaction lab to show your students how the rate of a chemical reaction is affected by changes to temperature and concentration. Students make observations and record data for the reaction between hydrogen peroxide and vitamin C solutions five times, varying the concentration of one reactant or the temperature of the system each time. At the end of this laboratory activity your students will be able to measure the rate of a reaction and use their data to determine if the reaction rate changes as the result of changes to the reaction system.

AACT is working hard to expand our library of classroom resources for AP Chemistry teachers. Do you have a great AP demonstration, activity, or lesson about electrochemistry or kinetics that you would like to share with the community? We are proud to feature teacher-submitted activities in our classroom resource collection. If you want to share something you use in your classroom with the community, please send it along for consideration.