Using AACT Resources to Teach Chemical Equations

By Kim Duncan on December 13, 2017

As chemistry teachers plan activities for their students, AACT will highlight resources from our high school library that help to reinforce topics in different units throughout the school year.

In our last news post we looked at resources that focused on writing chemical names and formulas. Now we are moving on to lessons and activities that can be used to support a unit plan for teaching chemical equations. This includes the following topics: balancing chemical reactions, identifying reaction types, and predicting the products in a chemical reaction.

The Balancing Chemical Reactions simulation is a great way to introduce the topic of balancing chemical equations to your students. The introduction screen allows students to use scales or bar graphs to compare the number of reactant and product atoms of each element. They can then move on to playing the game, which includes three levels of difficulty. The accompanying activity also includes a “PhET Tips for Teachers” download with suggestion for using the simulation.

If your students would benefit more from a tactile activity instead of a simulation, use the Balancing Legos lesson to learn about balancing equations and the law of conservation of matter.

The Counting Atoms & Balancing Equations lesson plan includes three days full of activities focused on helping students learn how to count atoms and balance chemical equations. Activities include videos, simulations, games, and a student worksheet.

After your students have mastered the topic of balancing chemical equations, use the Chemical Reactions & Equations lab so they can observe a series of reactions. After recording their observations, they will write balanced chemical equations to chemically describe what they saw.

Students often struggle with the concept of net ionic equations. Make this concept easier by allowing them to observe a precipitate reaction using the Net Ionic Equations animation. This animation will help them understand why a net ionic equation is used to represent what happens at the particulate level in a precipitation reaction.

Identifying and differentiating between the types of chemical reactions is an important skill for students to master before they start predicting the product of a reaction. The Classifying Reaction Types lab will give them the opportunity to carry out a variety of different reactions, classify each reaction type, and use their observations to predict the products of the reactions. This lab also includes a PowerPoint presentation for the teacher to use that links to video examples of synthesis, double displacement, decomposition, and single displacement reactions.

Predicting the products of a balanced chemical equation is a difficult concept that usually requires a lot of practice. Use the equation cards in the Snowman Challenge activity to help your students get the practice they need with this fun and interactive game. During the activity, student teams select a reaction, predict the products, and balance the final equation. Once they get the right answer, they earn a point and select another card. The group with the most points wins the game.

If you need resources on this topic that would be appropriate for your AP Chemistry classes, read Using AACT Resources to Teach Chemical Reactions and Equations from our April 2016 news post.

We hope that these activities can help you to reinforce several of the topics covered in a unit about chemical equations. Most of these lessons were made possible by great teachers who shared their own resources. We need your help to keep the collection growing. Do you have a great demonstration, activity, or lesson related to this topic that you would like to share with the community? Please send it along for consideration.