How Big Is a Mole? Comprehending Avogadro’s Number

MIT Blossoms

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The unit “mole” is used in chemistry as a counting unit for measuring the amount of something. One mole of something has 6.02×10^23 units of that thing. The magnitude of the number 6.02×10^23 is challenging to imagine. The goal of this lesson is for students to understand just how many particles Avogadro's Number truly represents, or, how big is a mole.  This lesson is meant for students currently enrolled in a first or second year chemistry course. This lesson is designed to be completed within one approximately 1 hour class; however, completion of optional activities 4 and 5 may require a longer class period or part of a second class period.  This lesson requires only pencil and paper, as the activities suggested in this video place an emphasis on helping students develop their “back of the envelope” estimation skills.  In fact, calculators and other measuring devices are explicitly discouraged. However, students may require additional supplies (poster board, colored pencils, markers, crayons, etc.) for the final optional/assessment activity, which involves creating a poster to demonstrate the size of a mole of their favorite macroscopic object.

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