How do enzymes affect chemical reactions?
Enzymes will make chemical reactions go faster.
Enzymes are catalysts which will lower the activation energy of a chemical reaction.
Activation energy is the energy needed to get a reaction going. By lowering the amount of energy needed to start a reaction, the reaction can go more quickly.
Most enzymes are proteins, but it is possible for nucleic acids (ribozymes ) to catalyze reactions too!
Use the ribozyme link above to hear Dr. Thomas Cech discuss his Nobel prize winning research discussing the discovery of RNA's ability to catalyze reactions.
The first video shows a demonstration using salivary amylase (an enzyme) which breaks down starch to demonstrate how much more quickly the reaction takes place when an enzyme is used.
The second video shows catalase enzyme breaking down hydrogen peroxide. A product of this reaction is oxygen (the bubbles in the tube), which causes the ember on the bamboo skewer to ignite!
Hope this helps!