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Solving Chemical EquationsWhat YourStudentsNeed to Know and the Keys to SolvingAnyEquations
Curtis Ward, InstructorSouthern Crescent Technical College
Who Am I?
Youth/College Pastor – 9 yearsESL Tutor – 2 ½ yearsSubstitute Teacher (Middle and High School) – 5 YearsPainter – 4 yearsSimultaneously! Of Course!For the last4years, I’ve been an Adult Education Instructor at Southern Crescent Technical College and I teach everything in every level…but mostly math because no one else wants to.
You Need A Scratch Sheet of Paper Today
We’re going to work out some equationsAnd we’re going to mess up from time to timeAnd you’re going to see what it’s like in my class on Chemical Equations Day
Chemical Equations
Show how substances come together to create new substancesShow how substances break down into other substances (decomposition)Show the chemical reaction on the smallest scale possibleFewest number of atoms and molecules to make it happen
Start at The Beginning: Vocabulary
Atoms (Elements)MoleculesIt’s not important what every molecule or element is.It is important that you can tell how many you actually have
Letters
Capital LettersStand for an individual elementLower Case LettersJust tell you which element you are working with that has the same capital letter as another elementThere are only 26 letters after all and potentially an infinite number of elementsFor our purposes, ignore the lower case lettersYou do not need them in order to balance a chemical equation
Coefficients
Numbers in front of molecules that tell you how many molecules you haveThese are the ONLY things that change when balancing a chemical equationIf you don’t see a coefficient, it is assumed to be a 1Just like algebra (see what we did there)
Subscripts
Small numbers after and below an element that tell you how many atoms of the element are in a particular moleculeBut…how is that different than a coefficient?Because subscripts DO NOT CHANGEThey remain constant because each molecule can only be formed with the exact number of atoms of each elementAlso, subscripts only apply to the element (or sometimes parenthesis) directly in front of them, not to the entire molecule
Parenthesis
Used to group parts of a molecule to denote the structure of the atoms within the moleculeAlso used to ascribe one subscript to a group of atomsJust like algebra (see what we did there)
The Arrow
There isno equals sign in a chemical equationThis is because chemical reactions only go one wayEx: When something burns and turns into ashes and smoke, it can’t be turned back into wood by just reversing the processInstead of an equals sign, there is an arrowThis arrow is expressed as “yields”and means that what is on one side creates or becomes the other side
Tips, Not Steps
These are things you should look for in any chemical equationThey help you know where to begin (and where not to)But yes, you should always do number one!By the way, I need a “googler”Volunteer?
Let’s Practice!
Remember these tips!End with elements that are aloneStart with elements that appear only once on each sideStart with odd numbers (they’re usually easier)Do Not write 1’s until everything is balancedReduce if possibleAnd…if you have replaced a coefficient a few times already, time to start again with a different approach
Problem Number…
126711121416
Questions?
Things I Live By
Never teach anything that doesn’t work every timeAnticipate your students’ questionsKnow the subject backwards and forwards (literally)Make mistakes!It lets the students know that even the pros mess upIt gives the students a chance to find errors and correct them – a mark of true understanding of a conceptLet students talk to each otherThey know why they always messed up, so let them help those going through the same challenges.
Extra Fun!
Facebook: Like My PageMath With Mr. WardAND Check out my FREE Downloadable, Printable, and completely yours to alter and use, ever-growing collection of math instructions – just like the“Tips for Balancing Chemical Equations”you received today at:https://www.sctech.edu/adulteducation/adult-ed/study-tools/Math Notes PDF
Thank You So Much!Please leave me some feedback so I can do better next time!

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