Balancing chemical equations is an important concept in chemistry that helps students understand the conservation of matter and the relationship between reactants and products in a chemical reaction.
To make this concept more engaging and interactive, there are a variety of classroom activities that can be used to help students balance chemical equations in a creative and hands-on way.
Having students work in teams or individually, these activities not only make the process of balancing chemical equations more fun and interactive but also help students to visualize the chemical concepts and retain the information better. So, below is a list of classroom activities to strengthen students’ equation balancing capabilities.
Balancing chemical equation activities
Many chemistry games involving concepts like periodic tables and understanding the balancing of the chemicals can be beneficial for the young ones, as gamification helps students be engaged and learn in a fun way. Balancing equations is an important skill to master, hence, the below activities will help students ace this skill in no time.
1. Balancing Equations Team Game
Of course, adding competition will help serve the purpose of learning. For this activity, the class needs to be divided into teams and then given a set of unbalanced chemical equations. The first team to correctly balance the equation wins a prize.
To play, first, each team must receive a set of unbalanced chemical equations and a periodic table. Then, the teams have to work together to balance the most equations in the shortest amount of time. Once a team thinks they have completed balancing all the equations, they should show their work to the teacher for verification. The first team to balance all or more equations correctly wins the prize. While enhancing cooperation, the game will strengthen children’s command over the most important table in chemistry.
2. Balancing Equations Scavenger Hunt
A scavenger hunt just adds fuel to the engaged and high-energy middle schoolers, thus, combining it with any educational activity is a must. The activity is simple and requires creating a list of unbalanced chemical equations and having students find the balanced equation hidden around the classroom.
To play, first, a set of unbalanced chemical equations on cards must be hidden around the classroom. Then, each student must be given a periodic table and a worksheet with the unbalanced equations listed. To find where the unbalanced equations are hidden, riddles related to elements can be given to students, such as I am the natural resource of the earth, without me life is impossible, thus, the card was placed beside a water chart on the board.
Students then must find the cards with the unbalanced equations, balance them, and check their answers by comparing them to the answer key. Once they have completed all the equations, they can return their worksheet to the teacher for a grade. The activity increases students’ grip on the periodic table while having them engaged throughout.
3. Balancing Equations Puzzle
Using a jigsaw puzzle as a reference, teachers can ignite the same curiosity in students about chemistry. In the balancing equations puzzle, simply cutting out cards with chemical formulas of reactants and products and having students organize the cards to create the balanced equation, can allow students to actually test their understanding.
To play, first, the chemical formulas of reactants and products must be written on separate cards. Then, after shuffling the cards, students can distribute them among themselves. Students must then organize the cards to create balanced equations and check their answers by comparing them to the answer key. The activity will help students memorize important equations and several important rules about substances.
4. Balancing Equations Quiz Show
Quizzes are high on energy and engagement and have several learning benefits when employed in class. Hence, tweaking them for chemistry class, especially periodic tables can be a great idea, as most children struggle with the same. The activity requires the creation of a game show format where teams answer questions about balancing chemical equations to earn points.
The first step in this activity is to create a set of multiple-choice questions about balancing chemical equations and dividing the class into teams. Then, the teams take turns answering the questions, with teams earning points for correct answers. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins. The activity encourages peer learning, engagement, and high retention alongside teamwork.
5. Balancing Equations Group Project
Balancing Equations activities can be assigned in a long-duration format too. The balancing equations group projects require teachers to assign students to small groups and have them research and create a presentation on a specific chemical reaction and how to balance the equation for that reaction.
For the project, one student has been assigned to groups; they can be asked to research a specific chemical reaction, including the reactants, products, and balanced equation. Then, in groups, they can create a presentation on their findings, including a step-by-step explanation of how to balance the equation for that reaction as well as on the chemical reaction, and its properties like color change, odor change, etc. Allowing reflection-based learning, this activity will allow for perspective and knowledge sharing and will enhance students’ hold on important concepts.
6. Balancing Equations Board Game
The balancing equations board game activity can be a great way to challenge middle schoolers. As the board will be pinned with top-ranking students, this can make them pursue the challenge with greater enthusiasm. For starters, teachers need to create a board game where players must balance chemical equations to move ahead on the board.
The game board must contain spaces representing different chemical reactions. Then, cards with unbalanced chemical equations that correspond to the spaces on the board must be created. Players must correctly balance the equation on the card to move ahead on the board. The first player to reach the end of the board wins. As the game is highly individualistic, the game will help students track their own progress and standing in relation to their ability to solve equations.
7. Balancing Equations Escape Room
Just like the scavenger hunt, escape rooms are new ways to intrigue children. In the balancing equations escape room, teachers can create an escape room where students must balance chemical equations to unlock clues to escape.
The escape room first needs to be set up with a series of puzzles and clues that require students to balance chemical equations to unlock. For example, one puzzle might require students to balance an equation to find the combination to a locked box, (if a balanced chemical equation is 2Mg+O2→2MgO, the combination of the locked box will be 2,1,2). The first team to complete all the puzzles and escape the room wins. Apart from engaging children in the idea of winning, this activity employs puzzles and a treasure hunt sort of approach to make learning fun.
Balancing chemical equations is a fundamental concept in chemistry that is essential for students to understand. Science, math, physics, and chemistry games can surely act in the favor of the students who are working hard to understand and master certain concepts. By using creative and hands-on classroom activities, students can better grasp the concept and retain the information.
These activities can include games, molecular modeling, and scavenger hunts, which make the process of balancing chemical equations more interactive and engaging. Additionally, these activities help students to visualize chemical concepts, which can lead to a deeper understanding of the subject matter. Overall, incorporating these types of activities into the classroom can greatly enhance the learning experience for students and help them to succeed in chemistry.
An engineer, Maths expert, Online Tutor and animal rights activist. In more than 5+ years of my online teaching experience, I closely worked with many students struggling with dyscalculia and dyslexia. With the years passing, I learned that not much effort being put into the awareness of this learning disorder. Students with dyscalculia often misunderstood for having just a simple math fear. This is still an underresearched and understudied subject. I am also the founder of Smartynote -‘The notepad app for dyslexia’,