Connecting the visible world with the invisible

Numerous research studies have illustrated the importance of connecting the visible (macroscopic) world of chemical phenomena to the invisible (particulate) world of atoms and molecules for conceptual understanding in chemistry (Birk & Yezierski, 2006; Gabel, Samuel, & Hunn, 1987; Johnstone, 1993; Nakhleh, 1992). This skill fits particularly well into the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) science practice of developing and using models, and a particle-level understanding of phenomena is a fundamental component of the redesigned AP Chemistry curriculum. However, most often chemistry is taught at the most abstract level; the symbolic level. Many chemistry teachers were taught in this way and thus they do not routinely incorporate particulate-level instruction. This report describes how particulate diagrams were incorporated in a high school chemistry course, provides a rubric developed for assessing students’ particulate drawings, and summarizes the impact of particulate-level instruction on student outcomes.

Weber, S., Pentecost, T., & Herrington, D. (2016). Connecting the visible world with the invisible. The Science Teacher, 83(5), 53-58.