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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 12 Issue 2 (2007) pp 67-70

Insights Obtained Through the Study of a Concentration Cell

Rick Toomey, Ed DePierro and Fred Garafalo*

Department of Chemistry and Physics, Northwest Missouri State University, Maryville, MO 64468, School of Arts and Sciences, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, 179 Longwood Ave, Boston, MA 02115,
Received September 25, 2007. Accepted January 11, 2007.

Published online: 1 April 2007

Abstract. Although students may be able to use equations to generate numerical data, they often are unclear about the significance of their results. Students have difficulty connecting phenomena observed in the macroscopic world with corresponding mathematical descriptions and consistent interpretations in terms of the behavior of atomic entities. This paper describes a way to help students gain insight into the relationship between measured cell potentials and the concentration of ions in solutions, through the use of a thought experiment involving a concentration cell. The process points to the need to make the distinction between a mathematical description of a phenomenon and a reasonable physical interpretation.

Key Words: In the Classroom; general chemistry; electrochemistry; cells

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

Article in PDF format (138 KB) HTML format

Issue date: April 1, 2007

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