Gas Behavior

High School Chemistry

General Info

Created ByTamara Allen
SchoolHigh School
LocationGroton, MA

About the Lesson

Subject Area
Lesson/UnitGas Behavior

Using the QFT

Place in the Unit/LessonEnd
Brief description of the unitWe investigate the behavior of ideal and non-ideal gases and how various properties (pressure, volume, temperature, etc.) are interrelated.
Final QFocusDesigning a gas experiment

Student Work

Student Questions

Priority questions in bold

Group 1

  1. Why is the tube inverted?

  2. What is the gas produced?

  3. Why did the aluminum foil float to the top?

  4. Is aluminum foil pure aluminum?

  5. Can this experiment be replicated with different reactants?  

  6. Can we make the reaction go faster by heating it?

Group 2

  1. How much gas will be produced?

  2. How much KOH will be used?

  3. How much Al wil be used?

  4. Does the weight of Al make a difference?

  5. Would this work with other metals?

  6. Is the aluminum pure?

  7. Which is the limiting reactant?

  8. Does tap water vs. distilled water make a difference?

  9. Why does the aluminum float?

Group 3

  1. Why does the aluminum foil float?

  2. Would other metals work?

  3. Would a bigger piece of Al foil react faster or slower?

  4. How pure is the aluminum?

  5. Does light affect the reaction?

  6. Does temperature affect the reaction?

  7. Is the reaction exothermic or endothermic?

How did Students Use their Questions

Students wrote a laboratory procedure to answer their question and performed their experiments.

What were your prioritization instructions?

Students were told to choose a question that they could answer by designing and performing an experiment.

Student Comments
  • “This process was useful because I could look back on the experiment and realize that there’s a lot more to it than I expected. There are a ton of variables that I never thought of considering, and many of these would impact the calculations.”
  • “From this process I learned a new way to look at inventing an experiment. I found it very helpful to make the list of questions because then you are able to look at it and make a better decision on what a good question would be.”
  • “I learned that more ideas and questions are stimulated through a long thought process. By continually asking questions in our group, we were able to lead up to open-ended questions that could be tested. It was useful because it gave us a direction, but still allowed us the freedom to design our own experiment. It was very useful doing it in small groups because everyone was bouncing ideas off of each other.”

Teacher Reflections

I was very pleased with how deeply students were thinking about the details of their experimental procedures. They noticed procedural details that they never have to think about when presented with a “recipe-style” experiment. Students were highly engaged in the question formulation and prioritization process, and I think they enjoyed the freedom of getting to choose what they would do in the lab.

Getting the students to choose GOOD questions was a bit of a struggle. They tended to favor questions that were too easy or didn’t require an experiment to answer. Gases can be pretty boring, so I’d like to apply this technique to a different lab topic next year to see if a more exciting/interesting topic leads to more ambitious questions.

Choose a more exciting topic, at least for students’ first QFT experience. I think the lackluster topic of gases does not lend itself well to students voluntarily taking on challenging questions.