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1.4 1.

4 Problem Solving in Chemistry

1 FOCUS
Shape-sorter toys fascinate
Objectives Guide for Reading young children. Typically, the children try placing a shape in different
holes until they find the right one. They may try to
1.4.1 Identify two general steps in Key Concepts place an incorrect shape in the same hole over
problem solving. • What is a general approach to
and over again. An older child has enough
solving a problem?
1.4.2 Describe three steps for • What are the three steps for experience to place the correct shape in
solving numeric problems. solving numeric problems? each hole on the first try. The trial-and-error
• What are the two steps for approach used by young children is one
1.4.3 Describe two steps for solving solving conceptual problems?
method of problem solving, but it is
conceptual problems. Reading Strategy usually not the best one. In this section,
Identifying Main Idea/Details
Under the heading Solving you will learn effective ways to solve
Guide for Reading Numeric Problems, there are three problems in chemistry.
main ideas presented as subheads.
L2 As you read, list two details that
Build Vocabulary support each main idea.
Word Forms Students may benefit Skills Used in Solving Problems
from a reminder that certain key words Problem solving is a skill you use all the time. You are in a supermarket. Do
you buy a name brand or the store brand of peanut butter? Do you buy the
and phrases in each word problem
1-liter bottle or the 2-liter bottle of a carbonated beverage? Do you choose
indicate the unknown quantity and its the express line if there are five customers ahead of you or the non-express
units. These include how much, deter- line with a single shopper who has lots of items?
mine, what is, find, and how long. When you solve a problem you may have a data table, a graph, or
another type of visual to refer to. The shopper in Figure 1.23 is reading the
Reading Strategy L2 label on a can while trying to decide whether to buy the item. She may need
Think Aloud Some students are con- to avoid certain ingredients because of a food allergy. Or she may want to
know the amount of Calories per serving.
vinced they cannot do word problems The skills you use to solve a word problem in chemistry are not that dif-
because they are too hard. Ask students ferent from those you use while shopping or cooking or planning a party.
to describe the process verbally as they Effective problem solving always involves developing a plan and
attempt to solve a problem. then implementing that plan.

Figure 1.23 A shopper must


2 INSTRUCT make many decisions. Some of
those decisions are based on
data, like the information on a
food label.

Have students study the photograph


and read the text that opens the section.
Ask students how they would approach
the situation pictured. Ask, What is the
most effective way to solve problems?
(Approaches vary depending on the given
problem; effective approaches are gener-
ally organized and well-planned.)
28 Chapter 1

Skills Used in
Solving Problems
Discuss L2 Section Resources
Explain that the memorization of facts is Print Technology
a relatively small part of learning chem- • Guided Reading and Study Workbook, • Interactive Textbook with ChemASAP,
istry. A person who succeeds in chemis- Section 1.4 Problem-Solving 1.27, 1.29; Assessment 1.4
try has become a good problem solver. • Core Teaching Resources,
Encourage students to share problem- Section 1.4 Review
solving methods and techniques. Dis- • Transparencies, T7–T9
cuss the “supermarket” problems.
Stress that for these problems, unlike
most problems in a chemistry course,
answers can vary and still be correct.

28 Chapter 1
Solving Numeric Problems Solving Numeric
Because measurement is such an important part of chemistry, most word Problems
problems in chemistry require some math. The techniques used in this L2
Discuss
book to solve numeric problems are conveniently organized into a three-
step, problem-solving approach. This approach has been shown to be very Point out that in the laboratory, as well
helpful and effective. So we recommend that you follow this approach as during students’ normal routines,
when working on numeric problems in this textbook. The steps for they are often presented with more
solving a numeric word problem are analyze, calculate, and evaluate.
data than is needed to solve a prob-
Figure 1.24 summarizes the three-step process and Sample Problem 1.1
shows how the steps work in a problem.
lem. Explain that they will need to sort
essential data from extraneous data. In
Analyze To solve a word problem, you must first determine where
cases with more than the required
you are starting from (identify what is known) and where you are going
(identify the unknown). What is known may be a measurement. Or it may data, sorting the data into knowns and
be an equation that shows a relationship between measurements. If you unknowns helps students to deter-
expect the answer (the unknown) to be a number, you need to determine mine the answer to “What data do I
what units the answer should have before you do any calculations. need to solve this problem?”
After you identify the known and the unknown, you need to make a
plan for getting from the known to the unknown. Planning is at the heart of
successful problem solving. As part of planning, you might draw a diagram
that helps you visualize a relationship between the known and the
unknown. You might need to use a table or graph to identify data or to
identify a relationship between a known quantity and the unknown. You
may need to select an equation that you can use to calculate the unknown.

Calculate If you make an effective plan, doing the calculations is


usually the easiest part of the process. For some problems, you will have to
convert a measurement from one unit to another. Or you may need to rear-
range an equation before you can solve for an unknown. However, you will
be taught these math skills as needed. There will also be reminders
throughout the textbook to use the Math Handbook in Appendix C.

Evaluate After you calculate an answer, you should evaluate it. Is the
answer reasonable? Does it make sense? If not, reread the word problem.
Did you copy the data correctly? Did you choose the right equations?
It helps to round off the numbers and make an estimate of the answer. If
the answer is much larger or much smaller than your estimate, check your
calculations.
Check that your answer has the correct unit and the correct number of
significant figures. You may need to use scientific notation in your answer.
You will study significant figures and scientific notation in Chapter 3.

Checkpoint How can making an estimate help you evaluate an answer?

1 2 3 Figure 1.24 This flowchart


summarizes the steps for
Analyze Calculate Evaluate solving a numeric problem.
Predicting In which step do
you make a plan for getting
from what is known to what
is unknown?

Section 1.4 Problem Solving in Chemistry 29

Facts and Figures


How Teachers Solve Math Problems
A Professor of Mathematics at Stanford Uni- The general four-step approach that Polya
versity, G.Polya (1887–1985), wrote a classic outlined in his introduction (understand, Answers to...
book about problem solving in 1945. The plan, try it, and look back) has much in com- Figure 1.24 Step 1, analyze
second edition of How to Solve It is still in mon with the three-step approach for solv-
print. Polya used common sense and humor ing numeric problems (analyze, calculate,
Checkpoint If the calculated
to present problem-solving tactics. and evaluate).
answer is much larger or smaller
than the estimate, check the calcu-
lations.

Introduction to Chemistry 29
Section 1.4 (continued)

Sample Problem 1.1


Answers
26. 24 short blocks
27. 24 minutes
Discuss L2
SAMPLE PROBLEM 1.1
Write the sample problem on the
board and carry out the three-step Estimating Walking Time
problem-solving approach. Stress the You are visiting Indianapolis for the first time. Because it is a nice day,
discipline of writing down the steps you decide to walk from the Indiana State Capital to the Murat Centre
for an afternoon performance. According to the map in Figure 1.25, the
that make the solution possible. You This view of Indianapolis,
shortest route from the capital to the theater is 8 blocks. How many
may wish to use chalk or markers of Indiana, shows part of the
historic central canal in White minutes will the trip take if you can walk one mile in 20 minutes?
different colors for the knowns and River State Park. Assume that 10 short city blocks equals one mile.
unknowns to make the process clearer.
Analyze List the knowns and the unknown.
Stress the importance of evaluating
Knowns
whether the result makes sense. Stu-
• distance to be traveled ⫽ 8 blocks
dents should make an initial mental • walking speed ⫽ 1 mile/20 minutes
estimate to compare with the final • 1 mile ⫽ 10 blocks
result displayed by a calculator. Unknown
• time of trip ⫽ ? minutes
FYI
This problem is an example of what is typically called a conversion
Conversion problems are the most problem. In a conversion problem, one unit of measure (in this case,
common type of numeric problem in blocks) must be expressed in a different unit (in this case, minutes).
an introductory chemistry course. They Divide the distance to be traveled (in blocks) by the number of blocks
will be discussed in detail in Chapter 3. in one mile to get the distance of the trip in miles. Then multiply the
In that chapter, students will learn how number of miles by the time it takes to walk one mile.
to combine the two calculate steps in
Calculate Solve for the unknown
Sample Problem 1.1 into a single step.
8 blocks ⫻ 1 mile ⫽ 0.8 miles
10 blocks
0.8 miles ⫻ 20 minutes ⫽ 16 minutes
1 mile

Evaluate Does the result make sense?


The answer seems reasonable, 16 minutes to walk 8 short blocks. The
answer has the correct unit. The relationships used are correct.

Practice Problems
26. Using the information in the 27. There is an ice cream shop
Problem-Solving 1.27 sample problem, how many 6 blocks north of your hotel.
Solve Problem 27 with the help short blocks can be walked How many minutes will it
of an interactive guided tutorial.
in 48 minutes? take to walk there and back?
with ChemASAP

30 Chapter 1

30 Chapter 1
Figure 1.25 Refer to this map of
Indianapolis, Indiana, while you
Solving Conceptual
Central
Library do Sample Problem 1.1. Problems
St. Clair Street Interpreting Diagrams
In the section of downtown
American
bounded by north, east, south,
Legion
TEACHER Demo

ue
Mall

en
and west streets, the main

Av
ts
et
us
streets and avenues are named

ch
North Street

sa
L2

as
Veterans
for states. What are the five Fit an Ice Cube in a Bottle

M
Memorial Murat
Plaza Centre
exceptions to this pattern?

Pennsylvania Street

New Jersey Street


Michigan Street


ONE WAY
Purpose Students suggest different

Delaware Street
Meridian Street

College Avenue
Alabama Street
Senate Avenue

Capitol Avenue

Illinois Street
Indiana
West Street

East Street
World
War

Vermont Street
Memorial
approaches for solving a problem.
Univ.
Park Materials bowl of ice cubes, empty
In
dia
na

New York Street


ONE WAY
narrow-neck bottle
Av
en

Indiana
ue

Historical
Society ▲ ▲ ▲ ▲
ONE WAY

ONE WAY

ONE WAY
Procedure Place a bowl of ice cubes
ONE WAY

ONE WAY

ONE WAY

ONE WAY
Ohio Street

CANAL
Indiana
▲ ▲ City
Market

and an empty soda bottle in front of
State Monument Market Street
Capitol Circle the class. Explain that the problem is to
Washington Street transfer the ice to the inside of the bot-

ONE WAY

Circle
Center
tle. Have students analyze the problem
N and suggest different approaches.

Maryland Street ONE WAY

Indiana
Convention
Conseco
Expected Outcome Students may sug-
Vi

Fieldhouse
rg

Center Georgia Street


ini

gest crushing the ice so that pieces are


a

& RCA Dome


Av
en
ue

Jackson Pl.
Louisiana St.
Union
small enough to fit through the mouth
Station
of the bottle; or melting the ice, pour-
▲ South Street
ing the water into the bottle, and plac-
ONE WAY

ONE WAY
ONE WAY

▲ ▲ ing the bottle in a freezer.


Merrill Street

Solving Conceptual Problems


Not every word problem in chemistry requires calculations. Some prob-
lems ask you to apply the concepts you are studying to a new situation.
In this text, these nonnumeric problems are labeled conceptual problems.
To solve a conceptual problem, you still need to identify what is known
and what is unknown. Most importantly, you still need to make a plan for
getting from the known to the unknown. But if your answer is not a num-
ber, you do not need to check the units, make an estimate, or check your
calculations.
The three-step problem-solving approach is modified for conceptual
problems. The steps for solving a conceptual problem are analyze and
solve. Figure 1.26 summarizes the process, and Conceptual Problem 1.1 on
the next page shows how the steps work in an actual problem.
Figure 1.26 This flowchart
shows the two steps used for
1 2 solving a conceptual problem.
Comparing and Contrasting
Analyze Solve With a conceptual problem, why
is the second step solve rather
than calculate?

Section 1.4 Problem Solving in Chemistry 31

Answers to...
Figure 1.25 Meridian Street, Senate
Avenue, Market Street, Jackson
Place, and Capitol Avenue
Figure 1.26 Solving a conceptual
problem usually does not require
any calculations.

Introduction to Chemistry 31
10:00 am 8:00 am
to 6:00 pm to 11:00 am

Section 1.4 (continued) CONCEPTUAL PROBLEM 1.1

CONCEPTUAL PROBLEM 1.1 Running Errands 10:00 am


to 3:00 pm
Manny has to run 6 errands between 10 and 5 on
Answers Saturday. He must get a haircut, wash his car, buy
stamps, rent a video, return a library book, and buy 10:00 am
28. The order of the morning errands to 1:00 pm
some groceries. Assume that each errand will take
cannot vary. The order of the after- 30 minutes and that Manny will do only one errand
noon errands can vary, as long as per hour. Manny will stop for a lunch break between 10:00 am
to 4:00 pm
the haircut takes place before 3 pm. 12 and 1. Use the information in the drawing to figure 7:00 am
to midnight
29. Possible answers: Do an errand out a way for Manny to accomplish all 6 tasks.
during lunch hour or extend the
hours during which he does Analyze Identify the relevant concepts. Solve Apply concepts to this situation.
errands. Each place that Manny needs to visit is open The post office and library are open only in the
for a limited number of hours on Saturday. morning. The barbershop and the car wash
Discuss L2 Manny must do his errands between 10 and close earlier than the video store. The super-
Discuss using classification schemes as 12, and between 1 and 5. At a rate of one market is open late. One possible order for the
Practice Problems
errand per hour, Manny must do 2 errands errands is post office, library, barbershop, car
tools for organizing information. Ask before lunch and 4 errands after lunch. wash, video store, and supermarket.
students to suggest classification
schemes they encounter in their daily Practice Problems
lives (the ways that goods are orga-
nized in stores or books in libraries). 28. Describe two alternative orders in which
Manny could complete his errands.
29. What if Manny had 7 errands instead of 6? Problem-Solving 1.29
3 ASSESS What would he need to do to adjust for the Solve Problem 29 with the help
extra errand? of an interactive guided tutorial.
Evaluate Understanding L2 with ChemASAP

To determine student understanding of


the three-step problem solving
approach, ask students to suggest ways
to evaluate an answer. (Reread the prob- 1.4 Section Assessment
lem to be sure the answer supplies the
30. Key Concept What are the two general steps
requested unknown; round off the num- in successful problem solving?
bers and do a quick estimate.) 31. Key Concept List the three steps for solving
Compare and Contrast Paragraph Write a para-
L1 numeric problems.
Reteach graph comparing the processes for solving numeric
32. Key Concept List the two steps for solving problems and conceptual problems. How are the
Have students try working in pairs to conceptual problems. processes similar? In what way are they different?
solve problems. One student thinks 33. Read the conversion problem and then answer the
aloud while trying to solve a problem. questions. “There are 3600 seconds in an hour.
The other keeps a careful record of the How many seconds are there in one day?”
process. Then they reverse roles and a. Identify the known and the unknown.
b. What relationship between the known and
work on another problem.
unknown do you need to solve the problem? Assessment 1.4 Test yourself
[icon] Writing Activity c. Calculate the answer to the problem. on the concepts in Section 1.4.
d. Evaluate your answer and explain why your with ChemASAP
answer makes sense.

In both cases, the solver analyzes the 32 Chapter 1


problem, makes a plan, and carries
out the plan. Problems with numeric
answers require that the answer be
evaluated to see if it is reasonable.
Section 1.4 Assessment
30. Develop a plan and implement the plan. c. 3600 s/h × 24 h/day = 86,400 s/day
31. analyze, calculate, and evaluate d. 86,400 seconds in one day seems reason-
32. analyze and solve able in relationship to 3600 seconds in one
33. a. known: 3600 s = 1 h; hour. The answer has the correct units and the
If your class subscribes to the unknown: ? s = 1 day relationship used is correct.
Interactive Textbook, use it to b. 24 h = 1 day
review key concepts in Section 1.4.

with ChemASAP

32 Chapter 1