Journal of Chemical Education 79, 1232-1234 (2002).

Depletion: A Game with Natural Rules

for Teaching Reaction Rate Theory



Donald J. Olbris and Judith Herzfeld

Dept. of Chemistry MS #015
Brandeis University, Waltham MA 02454-9110



Depletion is a game that reinforces central concepts of reaction rate theory through simulation. Each player buys chemicals and guides them through a series of reactions, thereby earning money to buy more chemicals. The reactions occur when players roll a high enough value on two dice to overcome an activation barrier. The reactions may be accelerated by buying heat (which allows the player to roll three dice instead of two) or catalysts (which lower the activation barrier). The value of acceleration derives from the increasing price of fresh chemicals as resources are depleted and waste products accumulate. The player who nets the most money wins the game. The details of the game are presented, with a set of follow-up questions suitable for either quiz or discussion. Student reaction to the game is also described.