What is a Balanced Chemical Equation?

Chemistry lectures and laboratory classes should go hand in hand. The students should apply what they learned from lectures in their laboratory activities. In your lesson plan, you can exemplify this lecture-lab relationship through chemical equations. A balanced chemical equation shows what happens in a chemical reaction through the arrangement and rearrangement of symbols in an equation. A chemical reaction is a process where compounds can transform into another compound. These compounds are either the reactants or the products of the reaction.

For instance, photosynthetic plants convert sunlight, carbon dioxide (CO2), and water (H2O) into sugar (C6H12O6) and oxygen (O2). On one side of the equation (reactant), there is 6CO2 + 6H2O. On the other side (product), there is C6H12O6 + O2. What this shows is that the number of elements (like C, H, and O) on one side should be equal to the number of the corresponding elements on the other. No new element is introduced or discarded. Because chemistry is very particular about the details, you have to account for every element in the equation. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is very different from carbon monoxide (CO). The latter can poison and kill a person.


Uses of the Worksheet

As teachers and educators, we can find several uses of balancing chemical equation worksheets in our class. We can use them to test the students’ learning after a discussion. We can use worksheets as props for another event or activity that is relevant to a chemistry lesson.

Practice Test: You can distribute these worksheets as a study guide for the students. They can spend their study time at home learning how to balance the equations faster and more efficiently. At first, it can be challenging because you have to get an equal number of elements for each side. But with practice, your students can balance chemical equations without writing them on a piece of paper.Lab Reports: You can also give the worksheet as a part of the students’ lab reports. In their reports, they can have separate sections for explaining different chemical reactions and elaborating on their significance in real life. In another sheet, you can ask them to illustrate the reactions they have witnesses into equations. Laboratory reports let the students synthesize what they learned from their lecture and laboratory classes.Tests and Exams: Worksheets are also useful as exam papers. You can download a worksheet template or you can start from scratch. When you download a template with an answer key, you can save time on preparing the test questions. It is also easier to check your students’ paper because you just have to look at whether they place the correct numbers.Class Activities: Students don’t always have to work on their own. You can encourage class participation by giving them group activities. They can work with their peers while solving the problems in the worksheet. You can organize a friendly race wherein each group has to solve different worksheets in different assigned stations. Activities are a break from the monotony of linear classroom instruction.

Useful Tips and Tricks

While there is no shortcut to learning, your students can keep practicing how to balance chemical equations. When they do, they can develop their own styles and approach to solving balancing problems. What if some of your students are having a harder time understanding the lesson? You can help them by giving them advice on how they can solve the equation.

Write Neatly

There would be a lot of letters and numbers involved. If your student seems to write all over the place, he or she might be confused in the middle of solving. If you had just introduced the lesson to the class, show them how to solve one step at a time. For example, every change they make in the numbers can be done per line. They should remember to account for all the numbers that they write. Counting the elements correctly might seem easy, but it will be more challenging when the solution paper is messy.

Take it Slow

Instruct your students to take it slow until they get the hang of balancing chemical equations. They can start by writing the bare equation first. Below the given equation, they can list the elements that are included on both sides. They should also write how many elements there are for each side. Students can begin by balancing all other elements individually while leaving the H and the O at the end.

Trial and Error

Assure your students that mastering how to balancing chemical equations takes time. Make it a teaching strategy to encourage the students to explore solutions. They can begin by trial and error. They can start with the smallest possible number. If that number doesn’t fit, they can go up by single increments. They can do this until they balanced both sides of the equation. Eventually, the students can find their own technique in solving the problem.

How to Introduce Chemical Reactions

Understandably, it can be hard to immediately grasp the concept of balancing chemical equations. This, like several lessons in chemistry class, involves unseen forces. The students cannot see atoms, elements, or their interaction. This is usually what makes teaching the subject harder. How do you make your students understand something that they cannot see, smell, hear, or touch? While other teachers would begin with introducing the lesson in a lecture, why not start with its application?

Step 1: Prepare an Experiment

Chemistry experiments involve reactions that aren’t unlike magic. There are color shifts, mini explosions, and other spectacles that will captivate and amaze an audience. You can take advantage of this universal fancy for a good show. Before you begin a lesson about chemical reactions, you can prepare a little show or experiment relating to the lesson. After you showed your students the reaction, you can begin explaining the principle behind that phenomenon.

Step 2: Show a Short Clip or Video

If an experiment isn’t doable, you can look to the Internet for help. Maybe there is a relevant video or show that shows how your lesson is applied. If you are feeling creative, you can also create your own video project for the students to watch in class. You can schedule the first five minutes or so of the class watching how today’s lesson is used in real-life. One of the challenges of chemistry and other science teachers is to show that what they are teaching is relevant to the students. By showing a video or a clip about the chemical reaction, those chemical equations that you are about to show on the board or screen wouldn’t seem so alien to the students.

Step 3: Distribute Chemical Equation Worksheets

Before you come to class, print an adequate number of copies of chemical equation worksheets. You can make your own worksheets so that the content of the sheets are relevant to the upcoming class lecture. If your students are just starting to be acquainted with balancing chemical equations, you can choose and download a template from the worksheets in this article. While in class, your students can also follow your discussions through their worksheets. You can use these sheets as test papers that you can collect at the end of the class. By doing so, you can check whether your students have understood what you were discussing.

Step 4: Start Your Lecture

After you have let your students witnessed, through experiments or videos, how several chemical reactions look like, it’s time to talk about why these reactions happen. Your students can follow through with the lecture better if you put this step after your little class show. This is because they have seen for themselves what those elements and compounds do. It is still important to give in-depth treatment to the lecture material. The relationship of different chemicals can’t be concluded from how their interaction looks like. There is a deeper story behind those flashes of light and puffs of smoke. And that narrative is hidden in chemistry jargon, equations, and illustrations.


What triggers a chemical reaction?

There are times when just combining compounds can create a reaction. Sometimes, you need a catalyst or an agent to jumpstart a reaction. These actions can disrupt the bonds between the atoms of the compounds (reactants) and rearrange molecules to form new compounds (products).

What are the different kinds of chemical reactions?

After they have learned the basics of balancing chemical equations, students would need to know the different types of chemical reactions. Knowing these four types help the students solve a balancing problem. In synthesis, you produce a compound by combining two or more reactants (H2 + O would give you water). The second type is decomposition. As the opposite of the first, this describes the reaction wherein a reactant separates into products. You can say that the reaction is of the single displacement kind when an ion replaces the other ion in a compound. It is called double displacement when the ions of the reactants trade places. Displacement reactions are characterized by replacing or exchanging of ions between reactants.

Why should both sides of chemical equations be balanced?

Both sides of the equation should be balanced because even when compounds undergo a chemical reaction, they do not lose mass. If we go back to the law of mass conservation, we can read that neither chemical nor physical reaction can create or destroy matter. The reactions just cause matter to take another form. Therefore, as you go from the left to the right side of the chemical equation, whatever is on the left has to be accounted for on the right side. If you lack one or two elements, you have to find them and balance the equation.

What is the function of the parentheses in chemical equations

Take our photosynthesis example earlier. The product C6H12Ois a sugar called glucose. When the chemical equation was balanced, this compound appeared as 6(C6H12O6). This means that there are six of the glucose compound. The parentheses are used to preserve the identity of the compound in the equation. If the chemical formula was C12H22O11, this would be known as sucrose. It is still a sugar but it is not glucose. The subscripts show that in sucrose, there are 12 carbon, 22 hydrogen, and 11 oxygen atoms. This is the identity of the compound. If you were to mean that there are 10 glucose products, you place the number 10 outside the parentheses.

What does the triangle stand for in chemical equations?

The triangle placed on top of the arrow in a chemical equation indicates that heat was introduced into the reaction.

You can say that experimenting with chemical reactions is like performing magic with science. The difference is that instead of just being awed by the spectacle, people can learn the trick behind it. By encouraging the students to learn why and how chemical reactions occur on paper, they won’t have a hard time transitioning into more complex lessons that hinge on fundamental chemistry.