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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 6 Issue 6 (2001) pp 360-361

llustrating Chemical Concepts with Coin Flipping

Raymond Chang and John W. Thoman, Jr.*

Department of Chemistry, Williams College, Williamstown, MA 01267
Received September 11, 2001. Accepted September 27, 2001

Published online: 30 November 2001

Abstract. Three classroom demonstrations, which involve the participation of students flipping coins, are described. The half-life of a first-order chemical reaction is illustrated by standing students sitting down when they flip a “tails.” Dynamic chemical equilibrium is illustrated by students standing or sitting depending on the outcome of coin-flips. In a third demonstration, the motion of gas molecules from one bulb to another is governed by the flip of a coin, showing the improbability of all the molecules gathering in just one bulb.

Key Words:  Laboratories and Demonstrations; general chemistry; coin flipping, half-life, dynamic equilibrium, probability, entropy, expansion

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail: jthoman@williams.edu)

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Issue date: December 7, 2001

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