S’more fun: simplifying limiting reactants using chocolate

chemistry

Title_ How to Study Efficiently for Hours On End (With the Help of a Tomato) (19)Stoichiometry: it’s the bane of many chemistry students’ studies. It’s so easy to get tangled up in a jumble of numbers without any idea of what’s actually going on.

Let’s take a step back and focus on conceptually understanding a key idea in stoichiometry: limiting reactants.

We’re going to make some s’mores today (bonus points if you actually have the ingredients in front of you.) Everyone knows that to make a s’more, you need two graham crackers, three pieces of chocolate, and one marshmallow:

Screen Shot 2020-11-02 at 9.29.44 AM

Let’s write out that recipe in a format that might remind you a little of chemistry class:

Screen Shot 2020-11-02 at 9.30.46 AM

It’s very important to remember that we must follow this recipe exactly throughout. We can’t modify it at all, or our s’mores will come out wrong!

Now, let’s say we have 6 marshmallows. How many s’mores do you think we will be able to make?

You probably said 6. But here is some more information: we have 6 marshmallows, 10 graham crackers, and 12 chocolate pieces. Knowing that information, how many s’mores will we be able to make?

If you built the s’mores, physically or in your head, you realized that we can actually only make 4 s’mores. This is because we only have 12 chocolate pieces, and we need to put 3 chocolate pieces in each s’more. In other words, the chocolate pieces are the limiting reactant. They limit the number of s’mores we can make.

Let’s get chemical:

How does this relate to chemistry? Let’s take a look at an actual, balanced chemical equation:

Screen Shot 2020-11-02 at 9.31.36 AM
Screen Shot 2020-11-02 at 9.32.28 AM

From here, you’re just one tiny step away from doing more complicated math, like converting mass or other units of measurement into moles. But that part is easy – it’s the idea of limiting reactants that’s hard! Think back to your 6 marshmallows, 10 graham crackers, and 12 chocolate pieces, and you’ll know exactly what “limiting reactant” means.

Chemistry is one of our most popular subjects and we have helped countless students conquer chemistry. Our chemistry tutors are doctoral candidates and PhDs. Our team also includes MD candidates, MDs, and MD-PhDs. Most of our tutors have served as teaching assistants for hundreds of undergraduates, many of whom are encountering chemistry for the first time. Our tutors can work with students of all ages to deepen their study of chemistry at any level.

Many of our tutors specialize in teaching introductory courses, and making chemistry accessible to their students. Others specialize in preparing students for standardized tests such as the Chemistry SAT II, AP, or GRE, as well as the MCAT. We have access to the standard text books, and many of our students choose to work with a tutor in advance of, or concurrent with, challenging high school or college chemistry classes. We can easily combine chemistry tutoring with tutoring in biology, physics, and mathematics. We do our best to match students with tutors who are most appropriate to their level and learning style.

In all tutorials, we take a highly structured and personalized approach to ensure that our students receive the most effective and comprehensive tutoring available.

Contact us!

Need help with your chemistry studies? Check out some of our other helpful blog posts below!:

How to begin preparing for the SAT subject test in chemistry

Formal Charge: What They Didn’t Tell You in your General Chemistry Class

Organic Chemistry: This Subject Gives You Alkynes of Trouble!

Comments

topicTopics
academics MCAT study skills SAT medical school admissions expository writing English college admissions GRE GMAT LSAT MD/PhD admissions chemistry math physics ACT biology writing language learning strategy law school admissions graduate admissions MBA admissions creative writing homework help MD test anxiety AP exams interview prep summer activities history philosophy career advice academic advice premed ESL economics grammar personal statements study schedules law statistics & probability PSAT admissions coaching computer science organic chemistry psychology SSAT covid-19 CARS legal studies logic games USMLE calculus parents reading comprehension 1L Latin Spanish dental admissions DAT engineering excel political science French Linguistics Tutoring Approaches research DO MBA coursework Social Advocacy case coaching chinese classics genetics kinematics skills verbal reasoning ISEE academic integrity algebra business business skills careers geometry medical school mental health social sciences trigonometry 2L 3L Anki FlexMed Fourier Series Greek IB exams Italian MD/PhD programs STEM Sentence Correction Zoom amino acids analysis essay architecture art history artificial intelligence astrophysics athletics biochemistry capital markets cell biology central limit theorem chemical engineering chromatography climate change curriculum data science dental school diversity statement finance first generation student functions gap year harmonics health policy history of medicine history of science integrated reasoning international students investing investment banking mba meiosis mitosis music music theory neurology phrase structure rules plagiarism presentations pseudocode secondary applications sociology software software engineering teaching tech industry transfer typology virtual interviews writing circles