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Catalysts are molecules that allow chemical reactions to occur faster or with less energy input.

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The Catalyst in Your Life

How can you act as a catalyst?

Credit: Peter Kuimelis
License: CC BY-NC 3.0


A catalyst is a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction by reducing the activation energy, but is left unchanged by the reaction. In our lives, an example of a reaction with a catalyst is the following: Your mom was supposed to take you to your friend’s house at 3:00 pm, but it is already 3:05 pm. You keep telling her that you have to leave, but she has to get a few things done before. Instead of waiting, you decide to help your mom with the chores so you can leave as early as possible. You quickly wash the last few dishes in the sink, pick things up off the floor, and wipe down the countertop. Just a few minutes later, your mom is ready to go and you leave making it to your friends house only a little bit late.  

Watch the following video for an example of a catalyst in motion and answer the following questions based off it:

Creative Applications

  1. Recall the first scenario about being late. What is the catalyst in this situation?
  2. In the first scenario, can the catalyst make the reaction slower? (Hint- look at the definition of catalyst)
  3. What is the catalyst in the reaction from the video?

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Peter Kuimelis; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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