Balancing equations involves making sure that there’s an equal number of atoms before and after a chemical reaction. It’s a bit like making sure that both sides of a scale are perfectly balanced. It can be an intimidating concept for some students to grasp, but using fun and interactive activities can help smoothen the learning curve.
Here are nine of my favorite activities for teaching how to balance chemical equations:
1. Matching Reactants to Products
Balancing equations is essentially matching the reactants to products. Your students can practice their matching skills by using these printouts of chemical formulae, coefficient cards, and molecule illustrations. Both the visual and written components can enhance students’ understanding of this important concept.
Learn More: Kesler Science
2. Balancing with Legos
Here’s another approach to learning how to balance chemical equations. Your class can work individually or in student pairs to experiment putting elements (Legos) together to form a reaction. You can remind them that the amount of reacting elements must be equal to the product side!
Learn More: ChemEd Xchange
3. Balancing with Molecular Models
There are plenty of interactive activities you can use to teach chemistry with molecular models. Your students can model water, carbon dioxide, and additional molecules while learning to balance equations.
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4. Sweetly Balanced Equations
If you don’t have a molecular model kit, no need to stress. Your students can make more informal models of compounds using different colored M&M’s to practice balancing chemical equations. They will have a nice sweet treat at the end of the activity too!
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5. Counting Atoms Escape Room
Consider this: You, the teacher, are brewing a mystery substance with plans to take over the world. This storyline is sure to get students excited about participating in this chemistry escape room. It includes eight puzzles where young learners must correctly count atoms and balance equations to escape.
Learn More: Kesler Science
6. Hydrogen Combustion Experiment
If you try to combust hydrogen without balancing the reactants, you will not get the desired product. This experiment can teach the importance of a balanced equation in chemistry. You can consider doing this hands-on and engaging activity in class or watching the video demonstration.
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7. Conservation of Mass Experiment
The Law of Conservation of Mass states that mass is conserved in all chemical reactions. This is why it’s necessary to balance equations. Burning steel wool can help visually demonstrate mass conservation through the addition of oxygen atoms onto the wool to form iron oxide.
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8. Interactive Balancing Equations Simulation
This digital balancing equations activity, full of both easy and challenging equations, can be a great after-school practice for your students. The visual display of the compounds and molecules can help strengthen their understanding of the number of atoms involved in such equations.
Learn More: PhET Interactive Simulations
9. Classic Chembalancer
Here’s a well-designed pre-made digital activity for online chemistry practice, containing eleven unbalanced equations for students to try out. It makes an excellent choice for distance learning or online homework assignments.
Learn More: FunBased Learning