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PhET's excellent simulations, which visualize and let students take an active role in controlling complex scientific phenomena, are as useful for early childhood chemical understanding as they are for advanced study. Tools such as the molecule and atom builders are a blast for kids to play with, and they teach chemical properties along the way. The alpha and beta decay demonstrators, the reversible reaction simulator, and molecular polarity tools all make high school chemistry that much more accessible. Even stoichiometry gets the interactive treatment with a web app that makes balancing chemical equations easier than you've ever imagined. For AP chemistry and beyond, there's a dedicated section for quantum chemistry that includes looks at bound states, semiconductors, nuclear fission, and more. There really is something for everyone here.
Let students get their hands on these sims and they'll quickly internalize tricky concepts. If you need some ideas, check out the teacher-prepared lesson plans, labs, and guides that accompany each simulation.Continue reading Show less
Key Standards Supported
Make observations to determine the effect of sunlight on Earth’s surface.
Use tools and materials to design and build a structure that will reduce the warming effect of sunlight on an area.
Use evidence to construct an explanation relating the speed of an object to the energy of that object.
Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents.
Ask questions and predict outcomes about the changes in energy that occur when objects collide.
Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another.
Use models to describe that energy in animals’ food (used for body repair, growth, motion, and to maintain body warmth) was once energy from the sun.
Construct and interpret graphical displays of data to describe the relationships of kinetic energy to the mass of an object and to the speed of an object.
Develop a model to describe that when the arrangement of objects interacting at a distance changes, different amounts of potential energy are stored in the system.
Apply scientific principles to design, construct, and test a device that either minimizes or maximizes thermal energy transfer.
Plan an investigation to determine the relationships among the energy transferred, the type of matter, the mass, and the change in the average kinetic energy of the particles as measured by the temperature of the sample.
Construct, use, and present arguments to support the claim that when the kinetic energy of an object changes, energy is transferred to or from the object.
Create a computational model to calculate the change in the energy of one component in a system when the change in energy of the other component(s) and energy flows in and out of the system are known.
Develop and use models to illustrate that energy at the macroscopic scale can be accounted for as a combination of energy associated with the motions of particles (objects) and energy associated with the relative position of particles (objects).
Design, build, and refine a device that works within given constraints to convert one form of energy into another form of energy.
Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence that the transfer of thermal energy when two components of different temperature are combined within a closed system results in a more uniform energy distribution among the components in the system (second law of thermodynamics).
Develop and use a model of two objects interacting through electric or magnetic fields to illustrate the forces between objects and the changes in energy of the objects due to the interaction.
Matter and Its Interactions
Plan and conduct an investigation to describe and classify different kinds of materials by their observable properties.
Analyze data obtained from testing different materials to determine which materials have the properties that are best suited for an intended purpose.
Make observations to construct an evidence-based account of how an object made of a small set of pieces can be disassembled and made into a new object.
Construct an argument with evidence that some changes caused by heating or cooling can be reversed and some cannot.
Develop a model to describe that matter is made of particles too small to be seen.
Measure and graph quantities to provide evidence that regardless of the type of change that occurs when heating, cooling, or mixing substances, the total weight of matter is conserved.
Make observations and measurements to identify materials based on their properties.
Conduct an investigation to determine whether the mixing of two or more substances results in new substances.
Develop models to describe the atomic composition of simple molecules and extended structures.
Analyze and interpret data on the properties of substances before and after the substances interact to determine if a chemical reaction has occurred.
Gather and make sense of information to describe that synthetic materials come from natural resources and impact society.
Develop a model that predicts and describes changes in particle motion, temperature, and state of a pure substance when thermal energy is added or removed.
Develop and use a model to describe how the total number of atoms does not change in a chemical reaction and thus mass is conserved.
Undertake a design project to construct, test, and modify a device that either releases or absorbs thermal energy by chemical processes.
Use the periodic table as a model to predict the relative properties of elements based on the patterns of electrons in the outermost energy level of atoms.
Construct and revise an explanation for the outcome of a simple chemical reaction based on the outermost electron states of atoms, trends in the periodic table, and knowledge of the patterns of chemical properties.
Plan and conduct an investigation to gather evidence to compare the structure of substances at the bulk scale to infer the strength of electrical forces between particles.
Develop a model to illustrate that the release or absorption of energy from a chemical reaction system depends upon the changes in total bond energy.
Apply scientific principles and evidence to provide an explanation about the effects of changing the temperature or concentration of the reacting particles on the rate at which a reaction occurs.
Refine the design of a chemical system by specifying a change in conditions that would produce increased amounts of products at equilibrium.
Use mathematical representations to support the claim that atoms, and therefore mass, are conserved during a chemical reaction.
Develop models to illustrate the changes in the composition of the nucleus of the atom and the energy released during the processes of fission, fusion, and radioactive decay.
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