Reflection: Grappling with Complexity Day 2: Turning Aluminum Foil into Copper -- Applying Stoichiometry in Lab - Section 4: Whole Class Instruction


Chemistry students usually learn mole-to-mole ratio conversions in class first, then apply that learning during lab in order to solve percent yield calculations after the learning occurs.  I chose to instead use the lab work to drive the need to learn mole-to-mole ratio conversions.  Students need to have motivation to learn certain content, and typically the calculations involved in stoichiometry is perceived as "boring" or generally useless.  I wanted to give a reason for my students to learn mole-to-mole ratios within the context of understanding data collected within a lab investigation.  I chose a visually interesting lab involving common reactants (copper sulfate and foil) that could serve several functions (conservation of matter, "disappearing" of reactants, transformation to and from aqueous states, percent yield) while providing impetus for students to learn how to use balanced chemical reaction equations to create mole to mole conversion ratios.

I did not use the reaction to teach everything related to stoichiometry--I had already spent a day working on grams to moles and moles to grams conversions.  In the future, I would like to develop a more interesting (and lab-based approach, like the one here) to teach grams to moles conversions, but I thought it would be too much to include in this lab.  In the past, I have not used labs as an opportunity to teach content calculations, but because students were receptive to that approach here, I plan to develop similar learning opportunities.

  Using Lab Work as a Context for Learning Mole-to-Mole Ratios
  Grappling with Complexity: Using Lab Work as a Context for Learning Mole-to-Mole Ratios
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Day 2: Turning Aluminum Foil into Copper -- Applying Stoichiometry in Lab

Unit 3: Chemical Reactions and Stoichiometry
Lesson 11 of 14

Objective: SWBAT determine how many moles of copper should be produced from a measured amount of aluminum foil, and compare this theoretical yield to their actual yield from an experiment.

Big Idea: Stoichiometric calculations help us predict how much product is formed based on how much reactant we start with.

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