- Aligned with Big Idea 3 and Learning Objective 3.10
- Emphasizes Science Practices 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7
In this comprehensive laboratory exercise, students determine whether a process is a chemical or a physical change based on the production of heat, evolution of a gas, formation of a precipitate, or a color change. This exercise can be taught using either a guided or an inquiry activity. In the guided activity, students work at activity stations in rotation and classify each of the 15 processes they observe as either a chemical or a physical change.
In the inquiry activity, students observe 5 chemical and 5 physical changes, develop their own set of characteristics for each type of change, and then apply their rules to classify 10 additional unclassified processes. The inquiry activity also provides an opportunity for students to present their experimental design and results, reinforcing the practice of communicating findings. Detailed preparation and procedure notes guide you through leading a successful inquiry activity and include a suggested rubric for assessing student performance.
Both activities include Big Idea assessment questions that follow the AP® Chemistry Exam free-response question format. In the Big Idea assessment, students diagram what happens at the atomic level when chemical and physical changes occur, and describe how to differentiate between those changes when a physical change mimics a chemical change (as in a color change).
This kit provides the following AP® Chemistry experiences: design a procedure to collect data, analyze data, observe chemical and physical changes, use models to explain observed results, and justify claims with evidence. The number and variety of processes students observe firsthand capture their interest and offer them a great opportunity to develop observation and analysis skills. Materials are sufficient for 30 students working in pairs. Digital teacher’s manual, included FREE with kit purchase or sold separately, is a 12-month eBook license to the Chemical and Physical Changes teacher’s manual. You can also access the digital student guide for this kit for free at
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