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.
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.