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Party Hat Chemistry



Lesson Abstract

In this lesson students are introduced to the ideas that chemical reactions are dynamic processes with randomness. Using both classroom and computational simulations, students make predictions, observe, measure and analyze reactions. By graphing their data students see that even systems with randomness have patterns in their behavior that tell us about how they function.

Standards Addressed

  • S 1 - Inquiry Process
  • C 2 - Scientific Testing



Key Terms


Prerequisite Knowledge


Teacher Preparation

Ability to use AgentSheets application to build, modify, run and export data from models, and to configure and run AgentSheets browser-based applets. Familiarity with the "Party Hat Chemistry" model and model parameters. Cutting, pasting and charting data in Excel.


Required MaterialsMediaEquipment

  • Party Hat Chemistry Activity Sheet
  • Party Hat Chemistry Applet





Presentation Outline


10 minutes

Introduce chemical reactions. Provide examples, demonstrations, and media illustrating the importance of these processes to our daily lives (industry, environment, biology, ...). Point out that all biological systems are, at the most fundamental level, chemical systems.

Physical Modeling and Measurement

30 minutes

Party Hat Chemistry Activity.

Materials: activity sheet, party hat and die for each student, board, paper or computer program to record and plot data.

Students act as chemical agents in a classroom simulation that mimics a chemical conversion. Data is recorded and plotted, and students to to make predictions about what will happen on upcoming time-steps.

Follow Up

15 minutes

Presentation of the Party Hat Chemistry Applet. Using this applet the simulations that the students carried out in the physical activity can be reproduced very quickly. Rules can be adjusted, and data can be recorded and plotted.

Computational Modeling

1 hour

The Agent Sheets application is introduced. Model building procedures are demonstrated by asking students how to build the Party Hat Chemistry model they just saw.

Concepts of randomness and chance are considered as students consider what percent chance to use in determining whether a particle agent converts to another type.

As a final step have students export plotted data to Excel, and plot it in Excel.