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  Feature Name: Hands-on examples of molecular visualization content
Author: Kevin McElhaney

Category: Visualization Tools (pre-designed): Models, Inquiry Tools: Open-ended inquiry, Offline Supports

Subject: Physical sciences

Kind: NA

 Elementary School
 Middle School
 High School
 Higher Education
 Teachers & Principals


Software URL: WISE

Created by: UC Berkeley

Reference URL

This Feature is connected to (6) Principles
  • Build on student ideas
  • Provide dynamic visual aids for the perception of 3D phenomena
  • Connect to personally relevant contexts
  • Reduce visual complexity to help learners recognize salient information
  • Use multiple representations
  • Integrate online with offline activities
    Feature in Visual Map
    Where dynamic visualizations represent scientific phenomena, especially at the molecular level, bring real-life examples of the phenomenon and allow students to reproduce the phenomenon with real-life objects to help them integrate ideas from the visualizations.
    The Rationale Behind the Feature (Specific Design Principle):
    Students struggle to connect concepts at the macroscopic and molecular level. Providing representations of phenomena at the two different level and providing students opportunities to connect the levels can help students strengthen their understanding of the phenomenon.
    Context of Use:
    This feature is used in the WISE project How Can We Recycle Old Tires?. The project discusses the molecular structure, properties and recycling methods of tires, polyethylene, metals, and ceramics. As students watch videos demonstrating the properties of these objects and work with visualizations of these properties at the molecular level, students can handle physical samples of these materials and connect their observations to their understanding of the molecular visualizations.
    Field-based Evidence:
    Students enjoy the chance to work with real materials during an online project. Physical manipulations of the materials by students and teachers help students understand the concept and promote fruitful discussions.
    McElhaney, K.W. (2007). Using Pivotal Cases to Help Learners Understand and Integrate Chemistry Representations. Paper presented at the annual meeting of American Educational Research Association, Chicago, IL, April 9-13.

    Image:(Click to enlarge)