4. The kinetic molecular theory describes the motion of atoms and molecules and explains the properties of gases.
4. a. Students know the random motion of molecules and their collisions with a surface create the observable pressure on that surface.
Fluids consist of molecules that freely move past each other in random directions. Intermolecular forces hold the atoms or molecules in liquids close to each other. Gases consist of tiny particles, either atoms or molecules, spaced far apart from each other and reasonably free to move at high speeds, near the speed of sound. In the study of chemistry, gases and liquids are considered fluids. Pressure is defined as force per unit area. The force in fluids comes from collisions of atoms or molecules with the walls of the container. Air pressure is created by the weight of the gas in the atmosphere striking surfaces. Gravity pulls air molecules toward Earth, the surface that they strike. Water pressure can be understood in the same fashion, but the pressures are much greater because of the greater density of water. Pressure in water increases with depth, and pressure in air decreases with altitude. However, pressure is felt equally in all directions in fluids because of the random motion of the molecules.
4. b. Students know the random motion of molecules explains the diffusion of gases.
Another result of the kinetic molecular theory is that gases diffuse into each other to form homogeneous mixtures. An excellent demonstration of diffusion is the white ammonium chloride ring formed by simultaneous diffusion of ammonia vapor and hydrogen chloride gas toward the middle of a glass tube. The white ring forms nearer the region where hydrogen chloride was introduced, illustrating both diffusion and the principle that heavier gases have a slower rate of diffusion.
4. c. Students know how to apply the gas laws to relations between the pressure, temperature, and volume of any amount of an ideal gas or any mixture of ideal gases.
A fixed number of moles n of gas can have different values for pressure P, volume V, and temperature T. Relationships among these properties are defined for an ideal gas and can be used to predict the effects of changing one or more of these properties and solving for unknown quantities. Students should know and be able to use the three gas law relationships.
The first expression of the gas law is sometimes taught as Boyle's law and the second as Charles's law, according to the historical order of their discovery. They are both simpler cases of the more general ideal gas law introduced in Standard 4.h in this section. For a fixed number of moles of gas, a combined gas law has the form PV/T = constant, or P1V1/T1 = P2V2/T2. This law is useful in calculations where P, V, and T are changing. By placing a balloon over the mouth of an Erlenmeyer flask, the teacher can demonstrate that volume divided by temperature equals a constant. When the flask is heated, the balloon inflates; when the flask is cooled, the balloon deflates.
4. d. Students know the values and meanings of standard temperature and pressure (STP).
Standard temperature is 0C, and standard pressure (STP) is 1 atmosphere (760 mm Hg). These standards are an agreed-on set of conditions for gases against which to consider other temperatures and pressures. When volumes of gases are being compared, the temperature and pressure must be specified. For a fixed mass of gas at a specified temperature and pressure, the volume is also fixed.
4. e. Students know how to convert between the Celsius and Kelvin temperature scales.
Some chemical calculations require an absolute temperature scale, called the Kelvin scale (K), for which the coldest possible temperature is equal to zero. There are no negative temperatures on the Kelvin scale. In theory if a sample of any material is cooled as much as possible, the lowest temperature that can be reached is 0 K, experimentally determined as equivalent to -273.15C. The Kelvin scale starts with absolute zero (0 K) because of this theoretical lowest temperature limit. A Kelvin temperature is always 273.15 degrees greater than an equivalent Celsius temperature, but a Kelvin temperature is specified without the degree symbol. The magnitude of one unit of change in the K scale is equal to the magnitude of one unit of change on the C scale.
4. f. Students know there is no temperature lower than 0 Kelvin.
The kinetic molecular theory is the basis for understanding heat and temperature. The greater the atomic and molecular motion, the greater the observed temperature of a substance. If all atomic and molecular motion stopped, the temperature of the material would reach an absolute minimum. This minimum is absolute zero, or -273.15C. The third law of thermodynamics states that this temperature can never be reached. Experimental efforts to create very low temperatures have resulted in lowering the temperature of objects to within a fraction of a degree of absolute zero.
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