Using New AACT Resources to Help Teach Electrochemistry

By Kim Duncan on April 16, 2020

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. Our last news post highlighted resources from our high school library that support an Acid Base Chemistry unit. In this post, we are going to highlight some of our most “Favorite” electrochemistry resources.

The following two resources will help your students understand the concept of galvanic cells.

  • Use the Galvanic Cell Exploration activity to help your students build their understanding of redox reactions and galvanic cells. Using both a lab activity and an animated simulation, students investigate these types of cells, and the redox reactions that drive them, at both a macroscopic and particle-level to connect how particle-level interactions can explain macroscopic observations.
  • The lab, Four-Way Galvanic Cell is an inexpensive and simple activity to allow your students to build a simple galvanic cell and measure cell potential. They will also compare their data to theoretical calculations and become more familiar with cells during this opportunity to investigate and compare numerous electrochemistry reactions.

We also have three great resources related to electrolytic cells. The first two are lab activities and the third is a lesson to help students understand calculations related to electrolysis.

  • Students can perform the electrolysis of water using a battery, test tubes, thumbtacks, and a plastic cup with the Electrolysis of Water lab. This procedure uses inexpensive, common materials to allow students to build a cell and make observations. It is aligned to the AP Chemistry Curriculum Framework.
  • Use the Exploration of Electrolytic Cells lesson to help your students build several electrolytic cells, discuss and diagram their cells to further their understanding of electrolysis, and use qualitative and quantitative analysis of the electrolysis of potassium iodide. Finally, students will practice and be assessed on their knowledge of electrolysis on AP exam-level questioning. This lesson is also aligned to the AP Chemistry Curriculum Framework.

  • Students often struggle with setting up calculations for electrolysis. The lesson, Stoichiometry Set-up Method teaches students how to follow a process of visual cues in combination with a step-by-step problem solving method for different types of stoichiometric problems. This method can be particularly beneficial for students who struggle with completing multi-step calculations. In addition to electrolysis, this lesson also includes instruction and student activities for stoichiometry, gas laws, and molarity calculations.

At the end of your unit on electrochemistry, use one or more of these videos to help them make the connection between chemistry and cars. Each of these includes a set of video questions to help students take notes while viewing the videos.

  • Use the Hybrid and Electric Cars Video to explore the chemistry in the batteries that power hybrid and electric cars.
  • The Alternative Fuels Video analyzes alternatives to petroleum based fossil fuels, such as biofuels and hydrogen fuel cells.
  • And finally, the Catalytic Converters Video investigates 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.

We hope that these activities can help you to reinforce several of the topics covered in a unit about electrochemistry. 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.