Submitted by Margaret Scheuermann / Western Washington University on Tue, 12/19/2017 - 22:18
My Notes
Course Level
Topics Covered

These five slides are intended to share a visual scaffolding that I developed to help my general chemistry students identify what calculations are needed to solve stoichiometry problems.


The visual scaffold involves writing the balanced equation and then under it drawing a table with two rows and enough columns so that there is one column under each reagent in the equation. The top row is labeled as "moles" and the bottom row is labeled as "measurable quantity". Students then write in any information about a specific reagent or product that was given and identify the quantity that the question is asking them to find. They then add a series of arrows to the table to generate a "map" of how to get from the information they are given to the information they need to find with each arrow representating a type of calculation that they have already seen and practiced. Vertical arrows represent a calculation between a measured quantity and a number of moles. Horizontal arrows in the top row represent calculations between moles of one substance and moles of another substance. Horziontal arrows in the "measured quantity" row are not allowed since those unit conversion factors are not readily available. 


Learning Goals

A student should be able to determine the quantity of a reagent required or the quantity of a product produced in a reaction.

Related activities
Implementation Notes

The scaffolding begins with a review of the two types of calculations that are required for basic stoichiometry: converting between grams and moles, and converting between moles of one substance and moles of another substance using the coefficients of a balanced equation as unit conversion factors (slide 1).

Some ABCD card/clicker questions can be added here if students have not practiced these types of problems in class recently.

After introducing the visual scaffold (slide 2) I do an example problem or two on the board/overhead/doc cam (slide 3).

This is a good point to give students an opportunity to work on a practice problem or if the introduction to stoichiometry began part way through a class period, an exit question.

Next I introduce situations where it could take more than one calculation to get from the measured quantity to moles (slide 4). 

An example problem and/or practice problem and/or exit question can be added here.

The visual scaffold is also relevant for limiting reagent problems. I've included an example (slide 5/6) but limiting reagent is usually presented in a subsequent class period after some examples of the limiting reagent concept using sandwiches or something similar. 

Time Required
30-50 minutes. varies with the number of examples and practice problems
Evaluation Methods

I will usually do an exit question- a stoichiometry problem from the textbook- after either slide 3 or slide 4. I do not require students to use the visual scaffold if they are already comfortable with stoichiometry from a previous class but many choose to use it. Some students will include the tables from the visual scaffold as part of the work they show on exams, again without being prompted or required to do so. 

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