Day 62: Mistakes Game & Balancing Reactions

Physics: Mistakes Game

We played the mistakes game with yesterday’s conservation of energy problems. For students who had the other physics teacher last trimester, this was their first experience with the mistakes game. I was pleased with the way the students I had last tri took the lead, helping their peers come up with interesting mistakes and modeling good questions.


The mistake is a subtle sign error, but lead to some great discussion about determining whether an answer is reasonable.

Chemistry: Intro to Balancing Chemical Equations

I took advantage of the visuals in PhET’s Balancing Chemical Equations sim to introduce my students to this process. I had them start by playing in the introduction to figure out what the different representations tell them about the chemical equation. After students had some time to play, we came back together. My students were able to articulate pretty clearly what it means for a reaction to be balanced, and what it has to do with conservation of mass. Students then spent some time testing their understanding by playing the game built into the simulation. Based on the conversations I overheard as they played, students were getting a much better understanding of not just how to balance chemical equations, but what all those numbers in the equation mean. I was also pleased to see the confidence my students gained while playing the game. I think a lot of them have started to assume they don’t understand things in the classroom, so seeing that immediate, consistently positive feedback from the game helped them see the way they’re thinking about these reactions really is useful.

phet balancing

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