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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 17 (2012) pp 184-186
DOI 10.1007/s00897122439

Le Châtelier’s Principle: A Newtonian-based Analogy That Makes Sense

Kenneth Hanson*,† and Debbie A. Hanson

†Department of Chemistry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599. ‡Center for Urban Education, Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, 90089,
Received July 8, 2012. Accepted August 10, 2012.

Published: 14 September 2012

Abstract. In this report we suggest a Newtonian-based analogy for Le Châtelier’s principle that can be used to predict the direction of equilibrium shift upon perturbation. The analogy is dependent on students’ intuitive understanding of the spontaneous movement of mass under gravity after a disturbance. While the method presented here only applies under specific circumstances, it is a straightforward technique for answering many equilibrium perturbation questions of the form, “Which direction will the equilibrium shift if…?”

Key Words: In the Classroom; general chemistry

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