Session S63b (Wednesday, 2pm, Wartik 107)

P806: How do small particles form bonds? An inquiry-based classroom activity for understanding the energy changes that accompany bond breaking and bond formation

Paul Frazey (Whatcom Community College, USA), Emily Borda (Western Washington University, USA)

The energy transfers and transformations that occur during bond breaking and bond formation are often some of the most difficult concepts for beginning chemistry students to master.  We have developed an inquiry-based classroom activity to help students build a model for bonding, and further to explain the endothermic nature of bond breaking and the exothermic nature of bond formation.  In this activity, students work with a computer simulation to observe the changes in energy as the particles approach each other. Through consideration of a collection of colliding particles, students conclude that there is a conversion of potential energy to kinetic energy during bond formation and vice-versa during bond breaking.  The effectiveness of this activity will be evaluated from student assessment data and analysis of student work.  Challenges with presenting this topic under a purely Newtonian framework to introductory level students will also be discussed.



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