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Doing Inquiry in Chemistry and Biology: The Context’s Influence on the Students’ Cognitive Load

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From "ANIMAL" electricity to"METALLIC" electricity and the beginning
of lectrochemistry: The didactical view
Abdeljalil MÉTIOUI*, Ahmed LEGROURI**, Abdelkarim OUARDAOUI**
* Département de Didactique, University du Québec à Montréal
Case postal 8888, succursale Centre-ville, Montréal (Québec) H3C 3P8 Canada
metioui.abdeljalil@uqam.ca
** School of Science & Engineering, Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane,
P.O. Box 1778 Ifrane, Morocco
legrouri@gmail.com - A.Ouardaoui@aui.ma
Abstract
From high school to University, students have always faced problems understanding the functioning of an
electrochemical cell. In this article we will show that many of these encountered difficulties have been
identified by scientists during the development of electrochemistry. Therefore, we will demonstrate how
Volta, who rejected the idea of "animal" electricity as was illustrated by Galvani, postulated the existence
of "metallic" electricity. Meanwhile, there was the emergence of a new theory, among others, initiated, by
Faraday: The electrochemistry. Its development raised several controversial discussions among
researchers and several conceptual difficulties will have been overcome as well.
Keywords: History, Electrochemical cell, Students difficulties
1. Problematic
The study of “conceptions” by middle, high school and first year University students shows that there are
some conceptual difficulties with regard to the basic concepts in chemistry [1, 2, 3, 4]. For example, study
led by Bouraoui and Chastrette [2], on the conception on conduction in electrochemical cell for pupils
(16-17 years) and for the second year French and Tunisian students (chemistry, physics, chemistry and
,biochemistry) shows that the majority of them have difficulties assimilating the qualitative aspects of
electrochemical processes. One can for example mention difficulties in understanding that a battery works
by displacing ions from one electrode to the other and not by electrons’ transfer within the solution.
Similarly, Laugier and Dumon [3] identified the nature of the difficulties that pupils of Middle school (15-
16years) encounter with regard to the important concept of “elements” in chemistry: Three categories of
barriers were identified: perceptive, mechanistic and realistic.
To help students from different levels overcome these conceptual difficulties, many educationalists
suggested the introduction of the history of chemistry in the curriculum. According to Niaz [5] this would
allow learners to know the construction style of scientific knowledge and the rules governing the
operation of the scientific community. They would therefore be able to “see” chemistry right at its very
beginnings: modest, tentative and full of errors, instead of disclosing it as accomplished and impressive,
as mentioned in most textbooks. It is important to note that the study of erroneous theories developed in
the course of history would allow the understanding of the phenomenon of persistence of the “naïve”
conceptions by students of different levels despite the formal education [6].
This article, in the same line, aims at presenting a historical overview on the manufacturing of the
electrochemical cell and the different interpretations as postulated by Galvani, Volta, and Faraday,
amongst others. It elucidates also a feature of good scientists in general and good chemists in particular,
with regards to their talent of excellent observer along with their critical thinking to the smallest detail.
2. Historical Overview
We can certainly, and without any doubt, describe the invention of the electric battery by the physician
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Volta as revolutionary. This is a technical object capable of producing "electrical charges" continuously. It
is worth mentioning in this regard, that we could, before its discovery, obtain “electric charges” by
friction and store these charges in a bottle called "Leyden jar", from the name of the Dutch university
where it was invented. The invention of this bottle, the ancestor of today's condensers was undoubtedly an
important discovery, even if its use showed two major difficulties. On one hand, we were unable to store
large amounts of charges and, on the other hand, one always has to apply the necessary friction in a
moisture free environment.
However, how did Volta manage to make such a discovery that no researcher before him could
realize? .Without any doubt: an undeniable talent. In this paper we will present some answers to this
question, in a synthetic way, by specifying certain factors that have enabled Volta to achieve such
breakthrough. In the meantime, we will see that despite an erroneous interpretation of Volta on the
operation of his battery, he still made one of the inventions that were responsible for important advances
in physics and chemistry, and more particularly the genesis of electrochemistry which will be the central
part of this article.
2.1 Galvani (1737-1798): "animal" electricity
If the famous physician and anatomist Galvani had not observed the contraction of a frog muscle in his
the laboratory, the physicist Volta would probably not have invented the electric battery. Indeed, it is
Galvani who has attributed the electrical phenomena to animal tissues by disserting a frog leg. One of his
assistants noticed that the legs, attached to an iron gate with brass clasps, contracted by contact with a
scalpel. According to many historians, it would be the wife of Galvani that would have pointed out that
the muscles always contracted close to an “electrostatic” apparatus [7]. Following this observation,
Galvani made several experiments, among others, which consisted of conveying the discharge of the
Leyden jar in frog legs and was able to observe their contractions. This led him to express that frog leg
contained "animal” electricity. Thus, he inferred the presence of "animal” electricity in animals as an
electrical unbalance between nerves and muscles. Note that at that time it was known that some animals
such as the torpedo were capable of producing small amounts of electrical "charges" when their muscle is
in motion. In addition the study shows that the biological aspect of "electricity" was very popular and it
was also known that electrifying people by electrostatic machines was used for amusement.
2.2 Volta (1745-1827): "metallic" electricity
The publication of Galvani's work on electrical forces in the muscle movement aroused great enthusiasm
among some physiologists, causing at the same time some reluctance among physicist, especially Volta
who has been having an excellent reputation as a talented experimentalist who, in 1782, had
manufactured an instrument for detecting and measuring atmospheric electricity at ground level: the
condenser based electrometer. Therefore, Vota managed to charge the Leyden jar thanks to a metal plate
charged by induction using pre-electrified resin disc. It was an apparatus much less bulky than the friction
machine that was used by the German von Guericke and much more powerful than the frequently used
friction glass tube. He had also built a device to measure volume changes of a gaseous mixture during a
chemical reaction: the eudiometer that allowed the burning of gas mixtures in an airtight container where
a spark could be induced. This will be of great use for the chemist Gay-Lussac, amongst others, for
analyzing the composition of the atmosphere. Volta worked with Voltaire, de Saussure, Laplace and
Lavoisier, and was an adjunct member of the Royal Society of London.
This man, who was famous and renowned physicist, ardently opposed the existence of "animal”
electricity. Worth mentioning, however, that at first, he thought that the electrical effects that appeared
within organs were associated with the "animal electricity ". But he changed his point of view by
observing the effects despite the absence of an organ and had confirmed that, in the case of the frog leg, it
was the two metals applied against the wet muscles of the frog' that produced a “metallic” electricity
rather than an "animal” one The contraction of frog’s leg observed by Galvani was possible only because
there was a closed circuit in which the electrical charges could move. This circuit was formed by the iron
grating, the frogs' legs and the hook of copper. Galvani could not explain the reaction mechanism under-
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lying the observed phenomenon and was simply able to speculate the existence of “animal" electricity. We
have seen that it is Volta who had questioned the existence of the manifestation of the animal type
electricity by postulating the existence of "metallic” electricity since we can produce the same
phenomenon by gathering several copper and zinc discs separated by pieces of cardboard soaked in salt
water and stacked one above the other. Even if Volta could not explain the reaction mechanism underlying
the operation of the battery, its discovery was a blow to the work in physiology, by Galvani, amongst
others, who simply abandoned his career after the ruling of the Royal Society of London in 1800 in favor
of Volta’s thesis. However, even if Volta was unaware of the nature of the "current" produced by his cell,
his invention will bring a revolution in the field of chemistry. These upheavals began when we realized
we could break down substances that were thought unbreakable, as in the case of water, by a process of
analysis called electrolysis. Thus, one could decompose the solutions by the passage of the voltaic
electricity of unknown origin and very high voltages are needed to break the chemical affinity. For
example, the English chemist Davy (1778-1829) managed by electrolysis of caustic soda and fused potash
to the discovery of new metals, namely potassium and sodium. To achieve such a progress, he used a
powerful battery made from 2000 copper plates and 2000 zinc plates that were immersed in diluted acid.
The use of these “giant” batteries required regular cleaning of metals that would oxidize. It is important to
note that the oxidation of metals in the stack was considered by many physicists as a mere parasite that
was in no way connected to the mechanism of the chemical reaction related to the operation of the battery.
In the extracted paragraph below, Blondel [8] summarizes the advanced explanations given by scientists
about this important issue of the oxidation of plates:
This plates’ oxidization, which required regular and tedious cleanings, is important for the
chemists that, as opposed to Volta, saw in it the origin of electric fluid movement. Davy has even
related the quantity of the oxidized metal within the battery to the amount of electrolyzed solution.
However, many physicists, such as the French scientist Biot, who developed the theory of Volta
while taking only into account the electric tension between coupled metals, considered this
oxidization as a simple parasitic phenomenon, just like rubbings in mechanics. Nevertheless, almost
all agreed to compare the battery to a series of Leyde bottles that auto-recharges themselves and
"discharges” when one joins their extremities through a metallic conductor.
2.3 Faraday (1782-1867): electrochemistry
The discovery of new metals by Davy is certainly an important breakthrough which earned him a prize
from Napoleon. However, regarding the occurrence of chemicals around the electrodes immersed in the
solution, he advanced an erroneous explanation, arguing that only the molecules around the electrodes
decomposed and he provided the following reasoning: “The positive electrode attracts the negative
portion of a molecule and allows therefore the positive part to recombine with the negative one of a
neighboring molecule. Successive recompositions take then place throughout a chain from one electrode
to the other” [8]. Another chemist, Berzelius, goes beyond Davy stating that all chemical reactions could
be explained by the association of elements of opposite charges [8].
These arguments, based on the attraction and the electrostatic repulsion, do not take into account the
environment in which electrical "charges" move and it is Faraday, who began his scientific career as an
assistant in Davy's laboratory, who proposed an explanation at odds with those of Davy and Berzelius: “It
is Faraday who, about 1834, after his discovery of electromagnetic induction, had shown that during the
electrolyze, the driving force is not at the poles but within the body under decomposition. This is not a
force at a distance around the poles, but an action on the whole solution which drives the components in
the opposite directions” [8].
Faraday conducted several experiments that led him to establish quantitative laws in the electrolysis.
Some of his accomplishment is summarized below [9]:
Faraday established a relationship between the degree of chemical affinity of two elements and the
ease by which they travel to the opposite poles in the electrolytic decomposition, and he introduced
the terms "anode" and "cathode". It is still Faraday who developed a device to measure the amount
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of electricity, which he called a "voltmeter". He performed electrolysis experiments of water and of
several hydroacid and elaborate his first law: "The weight of a substance deposited or liberated on
an electrode during electrolysis is proportional to the total quantity of electric charge that passed
through the solution. Later, after passing the same amount of electrical charge in several liquids
such as water, tin chloride, lead borate and hydrochloric acid, Faraday postulated the concept of
"electrochemical equivalent”corresponding to the weight of various decomposed bodies to the same
amount of electricity. This is how electrochemistry has emerged”.
Faraday also explained the electrolysis with reference to ions even if he ignored, at that time, today’s
atomistic conception of matter. According to Faraday, the transfer of electricity in the electrolyte is carried
out via molecular fragments of dissolved particles which he called ions.
Conclusion
In conclusion, the credit of a battery making, although without understanding its mechanism, is attributed
to Volta. Indeed, he has associated the observed phenomenon to the existence of a form of "metallic"
electricity, while denying the existence of "animal" electricity, as postulated by Galvani. Despite the lack
of coherent explanations on the principle of operation of Volta’s electrical battery, we can confirm that
Faraday was able to advance the answers that will play an important role in the development of
electrochemistry. In terms of education in high school as well as at the University , the introduction of
such important historical elements of the invention of the electric battery of Volta in teaching physics and
chemistry would show that his unexpected discovery led researchers, through their hard work, reveal
some properties of matter that were previously unknown. Also, they could learn that despite its
experimental simplicity, Volta’s experiment raised pertinent questions and was behind several
downstream proposals. They would also see that all experimenters would not necessarily make the same
observations as they are closely associated with their own theoretical framework and background. These
considerations could be considered as a concrete example of progression and of the interdependence of
different disciplines in the construction and development of any science, with physics and chemistry
being good examples.
References
[1] P. J. Garnett, D. F. Treagust. Conceptual difficulties experienced by senior high school students of electrochemistry:
Electrochemical (Galvanic) and electrolytic cells, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 1992, 29, 10, 1079-1099.
[2] K. Bouraoui, M. Chastrette. Conceptions of French and Tunisian students on conduction in electrochemical cells.
Didaskalia, 1999, 14, 39-60.
[3] A. Laugier, A. Dumon. In search of the epistemological obstacles to the construction of the chemical element concept by
the pupils of second. Didaskalia, 2003, 22, 69-97.
[4] M-H. Chui. A national survey of students' conceptions in Chemistry in Taiwan, Chemical Education International, 2005, 6.
1, 1-8.
[5] M. Niaz. How to facilitate students’ conceptual Understanding of chemistry? - A history and Philosophy of science
perspective. Chemical Education International, 2005, 6, 1, 1-5.
[6] A. Tiberghien. Of the naive knowledge to the scientific knowledge. In M. Kail, M. Fayol (dir.). The cognitive sciences and
the school.The question of the trainings, pp. 333-443. Presses Universitaires de France, Paris, 2003.
[7] P. Devaux. History of the electricity. Collection Que sais-je? Presses Universitaires de France, France, 1954.
[8] C. Blondel. Electricity and magnetism in the XIXé century. In J. Rosmorduc, (dir.): History of the physics (Tome 1).
Technique et Documentation – Lavoisier, pp. 185-215, Lavoisier – Tec & Doc, Paris, 1987.
[9] B. Bensaude-Vincent, I. Stengers. History of the chemistry, La Découverte, Paris 1993.
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Use of the label of BOttled Mineral Waters: A Way to Introduce
the Properties of Electrolytic Solutions
Franco CALASCIBETTA1, Gabriele FAVERO2, Giuliano MORETTI1, Simone MORPURGO1
1Department of Chemistry, Sapienza University of Rome, 2Department of Chemistry and Drug Technologies, Sapienza
University of Rome, Piazzale Aldo Moro 5, 00185 Roma, Italy.
giuliano.moretti@uniroma1.it ; Tel.+39-06-49913539; Fax +39-06-490324
Abstract
In previous contributions we showed how several subjects related to the chemistry of electrolytic
solutions may be introduced in a General Chemistry course considering the analytical and physico-
chemical data reported on the label of bottled mineral waters. This way is particularly interesting to our
students because it considers the real solutions that make possible the maintenance of life on earth.
Examples such as the principle of electroneutrality of electrolytic solutions, the relationship between the
ratio [HCO3
-]/[CO2(aq)] and the pH of the solution, the colligative properties (osmotic pressure and
depression of the freezing point) and the concept of “water hardness” were considered. We suggested that
it could also be possible to investigate the relationships between the nature and concentration of the ions
and the electrical conductivity of the mineral waters. In this contribution we complete our approaches
showing firstly how the principle of electroneutrality of the solutions can also be used to confirm that in
mineral waters solutions silica is essentially present as H4SiO4 (or as amorphous SiO2) species and
secondly how the comparison between experimental and calculated electrical conductivity (at infinite
diluition) of the mineral water solutions can be used at the General Chemistry level to introduce the
concepts of ionic force and of non ideal behaviour of the solutions. This approach represents in our
opinion both a direct way to introduce a difficult topic and a good introduction to the more advanced
approaches to the study of electrolytic solutions presented at the more advanced Analytical and Physical
Chemistry courses.
Keywords: bottled mineral waters; physico-chemical data; principle of electroneutrality; electrical
conductivity; calculated electrical conductivity (at infinite diluition); ionic force of the solution.
Introduction
With the aim to contribute to the general discussion about the efficacy of new ideas and didactical
experiences in the teaching of General Chemistry at the first-year undergraduate level, we present a way
to introduce the fundamental subject of the electrolytic solutions that will be treated at the more advanced
levels in the Analytical and Physical Chemistry courses. Previously [1-2] we considered bottled mineral
waters, for which analytical and physico-chemical data are reported on their labels, and showed how
several General Chemistry subjects may be introduced in a way that we believe much more interesting to
our students. Examples such as the principle of electroneutrality of electrolytic solutions, the relationship
between the ratio [HCO3-]/[CO2(aq)] and the pH of the solution, the colligative properties (osmotic
pressure and depression of the freezing point) and the concept of “water hardness” were considered. (In
Refs.[1-2] the analytical and physico-chemical data gathered from the labels of more than 25 bottled
mineral waters were considered and reported in details.) We suggested that it could also be possible to
investigate the relationships between the nature and concentration of the ions and the electrical
conductivity of the mineral waters.
In this contribution we complete the previous approaches [1-2] showing i) how the principle of
electroneutrality of the solutions can also be used to confirm that in these solution silica is essentially
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present as H4SiO4 (or as amorphous SiO2) species and ii) how the comparison between experimental and
calculated electrical conductivity (at infinite diluition) of the mineral water solutions can be used to
introduce the concepts of ionic force and of the non ideal behaviour of the solutions. At the General
Chemistry level this approach represents, in our opinion, both an interesting and direct way to introduce
difficult topics, and a good introduction to the more advanced approaches related to the behaviour of the
electrolytic solutions presented later in the Analytical and Physical Chemistry courses. It may be of
interest to recall that ”Water in the environment” was one of the themes selected to celebrate the
International Year of Chemistry 2011 to engage students, volunteers and the general public by designed
activities and resources [3].
Silica is present in the mineral waters as H4SiO4 ( or amorphous SiO2) neutral species or
as H3SiO4
- or H2SiO4
2- anionic species?
We ask our student to check the electroneutrality of the mineral water solutions starting from the
qualitative and quantitative analysis of the ions obtained from their labels, assuming the hypothesis that
all silica is present as neutral species. The result of this exercise is reported in Fig.1 where, together with
the bottled mineral waters considered in Refs.1 and 2, we added two new entries, n.32 (Lauretana-2006)
and n.33 (Amorosa-2007), representative of mineral waters with the lowest amount of dissolved solutes,
in particular 14 mg/L and 25 mg/L, respectively. The amount of dissolved solutes is obtained by water
evaporation and a thermal treatment of the solid residue at 180°C. Note that each number in Fig.1, and in
the other figures shown in this work, represents a bottled mineral water whose analytical and physico-
chemical data are reported in Refs.[1-2].
Fig.1 Check of the electroneutrality of the mineral waters solutions: (A) low ions concentration; (B) medium-high ions
concentration. The concentration of the charges is calculated in mmolL-1 from the analytical data reported in mgL-1 taking into
account the charge of the ions. Each number refers to a bottled mineral waters (see Refs.1-2 for details). The best straight line
through the experimental points is y = -0.011065 + 1.002x, coefficient of determination R2 = 0.99471.
The data reported in Fig.1 demonstrate that in the mineral waters silica must be present in the neutral
form H4SiO4 (or as amorphous SiO2). The hypothesis according to which silica may be present as an
anionic species (H3SiO4-, or H2SiO42-) cannot be true because it implies some deviation from the princi-
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ple of electroneutrality. In fact if all silica were in the form H3SiO4- the best straight line trough the
experimental points becomes y = -0.17516 + 0.96018x, coefficient of determination R2 = 0.98928. On the
other hand, if all silica were present the form H2SiO42- the parameters become even less favourable to the
electroneutrality condition: y = -0.23982 + 0.90954x, R2 = 0.97175.
As recently recalled by White and Provios [4] the silica species present in the 5-8 pH range, typical of
mineral waters [1-2], may only be soluble H4SiO4 species or amorphous SiO2 species, the latter being
present if silica concentration in acqueous solutions is higher than about 10-3 mol kg-1. Monomeric and
oligomeric charged silica species may be present only at pH higher than 9.
Electrical conductivity of the mineral waters
The fundamental measurement used to study the motion of ions is that of the electrical resistance of the
solution with the use of a conductivity cell and of alternating current (frequency of about 1 kHz) to avoid
electrolysis and polarization of the solution in contact with the electrodes [5]. The electrical conductivity
κ, is the inverse of resistivity and it is normally expressed in S cm-1 (S = -1 ). The conductivity of a
solution depends on the number of ions present and on the temperature. In the case of a solution of only
one electrolyte it is normal to introduce the molar conductivity Λ, which is defined as
Λ = κ1000 / c0 (1)
where c0 is the molar concentration of the electrolyte. The molar conductivity is normally expressed in S
cm2 mol-1.
The conductivity κ of mineral waters solutions (generally measured at 18 or 20°C) is one of the physico-
chemical properties always reported on their labels together with the analytical composition and the pH.
Theoretically it is possible to calculate this quantity assuming an ideal behaviour of the solution, i.e.
considering the solutes at infinite dilution so that each ion is free to move in the solution in response to
the applied electric field independently from the presence of the other ions. Under this condition each ion
can be characterized by its molar conductivity λ0, which only depends on its chemical nature, the solvent
and the temperature [5]. These data are in general reported for the temperature of 25°C [5,6] but can be
easily reported at the experimental temperature by using Eq.(2) [2,5-6]
λ0 (t°C) = λ0(25°C) [1 + 0.020(t – 25)] (2)
The conductivity, at a given temperature, can be calculated by the following equation
κ = Σk λ+k0 c+k + Σk λ-k0 c-k (3)
where the sums are taken over all the ions of a given charge and concentration.
Firstly it is useful to obtain the empirical relationship between the conductivity and the amount of
dissolved solutes R, obtained by water evaporation after treatement of the solid at 180°C. This quantity
may be used to group together the mineral waters according to the following values: R ≤ 50 mgL-1 ; 50
mgL-1 < R ≤ 500 mgL-1 ; 500 mgL-1 < R ≤ 1500 mgL-1 and R > 1500 mgL-1. In Fig.2 is shown the empirical
relationship κ vs R. The best straight line through the experimental points is
κ 26.71 + 1.349 R (4)
Eq.(4) may be used to estimate one of the observables when we know the other one. Note, however, that
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Eq.(4) cannot be applied with confidence to mineral waters with R < 50 mgL-1 because at 25°C for
R 0, κ 0.058 µS cm-1 , the specific conductivity of pure water [5].
Fig.2 Relationship between the conductivity and the amount of dissolved solutes R, obtained by water evaporation and after
treatement of the solid at 180°C: (A) mineral waters with low ions concentration; (B) mineral waters with medium-high ions
concentration.
Each number refers to a bottled mineral waters (see Refs.1,2 for details).
It is easy to foresee that the difference between the experimental conductivity κexp. and the calculated
conductivity κcal. should be related to the total concentration of the ions in solution because it must
depends on ion-ion interactions.
The total electrolyte concentration in solution will affect also other important properties such the
dissociation or the solubility of different salts.
The ionic strength of a solution, I, is a measure of the concentration of the ions in that solution and may
be used to take into account the deviation of the properties of electrolytic solutions from the ideal
behaviour. The ionic strength is defined by the equation
I = (1/2) Σk c+k (z+k)2 + (1/2) Σk c-k (z-k)2 (5)
where c is the molar concentration of ions (molL-1), z is the charge number of that ion, and the sum is
taken over all ions in the solution. (The activity coefficients of ions, used in later Analytical and Physical
Chemistry courses to calculate the activity of an ion in solution from its concentration, also depend on the
ionic force of the solution and on their charge type rather than their specific identities.)
In Fig.3 we explore the possible relationship between (κexp. - κcal.) and the ionic force of the solution
calculated according to Eq.(5) starting from the analytical date reported on the label of bottled mineral
waters.
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Fig.3 Difference between experimental and calculated conductivity (κexp. - κcal.) of mineral waters as a function of the ionic
force of the solution I, calculated according to Eq.(5): (A) (κexp. - κcal.) vs I1/2 and (B) (κexp. - κcal.) vs I. The lines through the
experimental points in part (B) of the figure is only a guide to the eye.
Each number refers to a bottled mineral waters (see Refs.1-2 for details).
The quantitative formulation of the effects that influence the conductivity of the mineral water sokutions
is very difficult as we know that even the advanced Debye-Huckel-Onsager theory can only describe the
conductivity of the simplest solutions containing only one electrolyte [5]. At the level of the General
Chemistry our interest is to point out the necessity of introducing the simple concept of ionic force, which
helps us to cope with the complexity of the real and very important aqueous solutions.
We know that when an electric field is applied to a solution of ions and all the ions drift in a certain
direction, the ionic atmosphere around each ion is incompletely formed in front of the moving ion and is
incompletely decayed behind of it. The centres of positive and negative charges no longer coincide and
this leads to a reduction of the ions’ mobility, the so called relaxation effect. Moreover, the presence of the
ionic atmosphere influences the motion of the ions also by another effect, the enhanced viscous drag, also
called the electrophoretic effect , associated to the movement of the ionic atmosphere in the opposite
direction with respect to the central ion. Such an effect reduces the mobility of the ions and therefore the
conductivity of the solutions.
From the graphs shown in Fig.3 it is possible to see that the solution may be considered to have a quasi-
ideal behaviour at low I values ( I < 0.01 molL-1), whereas at higher I values the behaviour of the
electrolytic solution is strongly non ideal. Morever, a comparison between Fig. 3A and Fig. 3B may
suggest that, for the very complex mineral waters solutions the conductivity can be described by the
empirical equation:
(κexp. - κcal.) - a I (6)
which shows that the difference between κexp. and κcal. is linearly dependent on the ionic force of the
solution.
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Conclusions
The analytical and physico-chemical data reported on the label of bottled mineral waters may be used by
the students to learn many important properties of the electrolytic solutions. We point out that, even at the
level of a General Chemistry course, it is very useful to introduce the concept of ionic force of an
electrolytic solution. This simple concept helps us to cope with the complexity of these solutions and may
serve as an introduction to the more advanced treatments to the theory of electrolytic solutions presented
in later Analytical and Physical Chemistry courses.
Riferimenti bibliografici
(Note that Refs.1 and 2 are available free of charge via the Internet at
http://www.soc.chim.it/it/riviste/chimica_nella_scuola)
1. F. Calascibetta, G. Moretti, CnS La Chimica nella Scuola 2012, 34(1), 24
2. F. Calascibetta, G. Moretti, CnS La Chimica nella Scuola 2011, 33(5), 320
3. E. K. Jacobsen, J. Chem. Educ. 2011, 88, 530 (JCE Resources for chemistry and water:
an update for the International Year of Chemistry. www.chemistry2011.org accessed 30 July 2012.)
4. C. E. White, J. L. Provis, J. Phys. Chem. C 2012, 116,1619
5. K. J. Laidler, J. H. Meiser, Physical Chemistry, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston 1999,
3rd edition, pp. 264-319 ( Cap.7 Solutions of electrolytes).
6. P. Vanysek, Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, D.R. Lide (Editor-in-Chief) 87th Edition,
2006-2007, pp. 5-76 e 5-77 (Ionic conductivity and diffusion at infinite diluition.)
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Microscale Experiments on Determining Densities of Ethanol-Water Mixtures1
Tetsuo NAKAGAWA
Department of Biosphere Sciences, School of Human Sciences, Kobe College
Okadayama, Nishinomiya, Hyogo 662-8505, Japan
E-mail: nakagawa@mail.kobe-c.ac.jp
Abstract
Although density is one of the most important properties in high school and university science, several
difficulties often arise in measuring it. In this paper, a simple, easy, fast, inexpensive, and environmentally
friendly teaching material is proposed on determining densities in high school or university. The densities
of ethanol, water, and their mixtures (0.1-0.9 mass fraction of ethanol at intervals of 0.1) have been
determined at room temperature and atmospheric pressure with the aid of microscale experiment
procedure. An electronic balance and a 5-mL graduated cylinder have been used as apparatuses.
Observed densities of these liquids and solutions are in agreement with reference data. In this procedure,
the least amount of liquid samples is ca. 1.2 mL and it takes only ca. 2 minutes to determine the density of
each sample. That is, both the amount of reagents and the experiment time are extremely reduced in
comparison with the traditional experiment. Moreover, using our density data, molarities of ethanol and
excess molar volumes in the ethanol-water mixtures are estimated over the whole concentration range,
and they are both satisfactory. Therefore, it has been found that our methods of determining densities of
ethanol, water, and their mixtures are useful and informative as teaching materials for high school and
university science.
Keywords: microscale experiment, density, ethanol-water mixture, molarity, excess molar volume
1. Introduction
Density is one of the most important physicochemical properties for students who are learning science in high
school. The definition of density d is as follows:
d = m /V (1)
where m is mass and V is volume.
Densities are usually measured using a pycnometer. However, the following difficulties arise: First, a
pycnometer is very expensive. For example, the prices of 10, 25, 50, and 100 mL-pycnometers are ca.
€14, 15, 17, and 20, respectively2. Secondly, it is fairly difficult for high school students to use a
pycnometer. For a liquid sample, it is necessary to measure three masses of only a pycnometer (ma), of it
filled with a sample (mb), and of it filled with water (mc)3. For a solid sample, the procedure is more
complicated: to measure four masses of only a pycnometer (md), of it plus a sample (me), of it plus a
sample filled with water (mf), and of it filled with water (mg)4. Thirdly, the density of a sample cannot be
determined without the density of water, that is, if the exact volume of a pycnometer is not known, it
should be estimated using the density of water. In this way, more simple procedure should be adopted in
high school science.
In Japanese high school science textbooks, determining the density of a solid sample using a 100-mL
graduated cylinder instead of a pycnometer is shown [1-3]. However, a large solid sample is required and
in order to obtain the volume of a sample, the volume of water should be measured twice: before and after
______________________________
1. Tetsuo Nakagawa, 22nd International Conference on Chemistry Education, Rome (ICCE), July 2012, p. 333
2. See Sansyo general catalogue, 2012-13, Japan, supposed 1 yuro corresponds to 105 yen.
3. Liquid density dL is obtained as follows: dL = (mbma)dw/(mcma), where dw is the density of water.
4. Solid density dS is obtained as follows: dS = (memd)dw/{(mgmd) – (mfmd)}, where dw is the density of water.
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putting a sample into water. To solve these problems, we would like to propose the alternative method of
determining densities of ethanol, water, and their mixtures with the aid of microscale experiments.
There are many advantages in microscale experiments: simple, easy, fast, inexpensive, and
environmentally friendly. Textbooks concerning microscale experiments have been published [4-9], and
we have already performed the microscale experiments such as decreases in volumes in forming alkanol-
water mixtures [10-13].
Our microscale method has the following merits: First, instead of a solid sample, a liquid sample is used
to save time (that is, the volume of a sample can be directly measured). Secondly, instead of a 100-mL
graduated cylinder, a 5-mL one is used to reduce the amount of samples. Using our procedure, we will
determine the density data of water, ethanol, and their mixtures, and compare our observed data with the
reference [14]. Various concentration units such as mass fraction and molarity [15] and excess molar
volumes [12] are taught in high school chemistry and university physical chemistry respectively.
Therefore, we will estimate the molarities of ethanol and the excess molar volumes in ethanol-water
mixtures over the whole concentration range using our observed density data.
2. Experiment
Materials (Reagents and Apparatuses)
Ethanol (> 99.5 %) was purchased from Wako Pure Chemicals Industries, Ltd. and used without further
purification. Distilled water was prepared using the ADVANTIC automatic water distillation apparatus
RFD240NA. The nine ethanol-water mixtures in which the mass fraction of ethanol varied from 0.1 to 0.9
at 0.1 intervals were prepared.
An electronic balance 0.01 g, METTLER TOLEDO, PL202-s) and a 5-mL graduated cylinder
(SIBATA, JIS-class A) were used for measuring the mass and the volume of a sample respectively.
Procedure
All experiments were carried out at room temperature and atmospheric pressure. Before performing
experiments, a 5-mL graduated cylinder was rinsed with a liquid sample which density would be
determined.
The determination of a sample density is as follows: First, the mass of an empty graduated cylinder was
measured using an electronic balance 0.01 g, METTLER TOLEDO, PL202-s). Secondly, a liquid
sample in less than 5.0 mL was placed in a 5-mL graduated cylinder, and its volume V was measured.
Indeed, the V values were varied from 1.2 to 4.9 mL. Thirdly, the mass of the sample plus a cylinder was
measured, and the mass of sample m was obtained with subtracting the mass of the cylinder. And finally,
the sample density d was determined using equation 1.
This procedure was repeated twenty times for each sample, and the average density and standard error
were estimated. Mass values were plotted against volume ones, and the average density corresponding to
the slope of a regression line was also estimated using the least square method.
Safety Precaution
Ethanol is flammable and toxic. Safety goggles must be worn, and no open flames should be in the
laboratory.
3. Theory and reduction
Conversion of mass fraction to molarity
Mass fraction w15 and molarity c1 are frequently used as concentration units for binary solutions. Their
definitions are as follows:
______________________________
5. Mass percent (mass %) means 100w1.
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w1 = m1/(m1 + m2) = m1/m (2)
c1 = n1/V                  (3)
where m, n, and V are mass, amount of substance, and volume respectively. Suffixes 1 and 2 denote
components 1 (ethanol) and 2 (water) respectively and no suffixes denote system (ethanol-water
mixtures). The conversion equations have been already derived between w1 and c1 [15], and w1 can be
converted to c1 as follows:
c1 = w1m/(M1V) = w1d/M1 (4)
where M and d are molar mass and density respectively.
The c1 values were estimated over the whole concentration range using w1 and our observed d values in
equation 4 at intervals of 0.1 of ethanol mass fraction.
Excess molar volume
The excess molar volume VmE, which means the deviation from the ideal solution, is shown as [12]:
VmE = {x1M1 + (1 – x1)M2}/d – {x1M1/d1 + (1 – x1)M2/d2} (5)
where x, M, and d are mole fraction, molar mass, and density respectively. The definition of x is the
following:
x1 = n1/(n1 + n2) = n1/n (6)
In equation 5, x is calculated as [15]:
x1 = w1M2/{w1M2 + (1 – w1)M1} (7)
The VmE values were estimated over the whole concentration range using w1 and our observed d values in
equations 5 and 7 at 0.1 intervals of ethanol mass fraction.
4. Results and discussion
Observed densities using microscale methods
The averages of twenty densities for respective samples are successfully obtained because their standard
errors are very small (0.001 g/mL), that is, the observed densities are reproducible.
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Figure 1 Relationship between the mass m and the volume V in pure water, pure ethanol,
and the ethanol-water mixtures at room temperature
(a) 0.0 (pure water), (b) 0.1, (c) 0.2, (d) 0.3, (e) 0.4, (f) 0.5, (g) 0.6, (h) 0.7,
(i) 0.8, (j) 0.9, and (k) 1.0 (pure ethanol) mass fractions of ethanol
Figure 1 shows the relationship between mass and volume for respective samples. For all samples, the
mass is proportional to the volume, namely, equation 1 strictly holds, and the slope decreases with
increasing the concentration of ethanol. The slopes (that is, regression coefficients which corresponds to
the average densities) are estimated using the least square method6. Observed densities are summarized in
Table 1 with the reference data at 25°C [14].
Table 1. Densities of Ethanol-Water Mixtures (in g·mL-1)
In Table 1, the density decreases with increasing the concentration of ethanol. The observed densities are
in agreement with the reference data within two significant figures. The density can be obtained with a
few samples such as 1.2 mL, and the volume of a sample is reduced by less than 1/20 in comparison with
the traditional experiment [1-3]. It takes only two minutes to carry out our microscale experiments in
determining the density (i.e. the mass and volume) of every sample. These findings suggest that our
procedure is useful in junior high school science class.
______________________________
6. If the least square method is not taught in high school, let the students measure the slope of the m-V line directly.
Molarities
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Figure 2 Conversion of mass fraction of ethanol w1 to molarity c1
Figure 2 shows the molarity c1 of ethanol vs the mass fraction w1 of ethanol in ethanol-water mixtures.
There is no proportional relation between c1 and w1, and this means that the density of ethanol-water
mixtures varies nonlinearly with changing w1 (See equation 4). The c1 values obtained using our density
data (▲) are in good agreement with those using reference density values (Δ) . Because both nearly
superimpose each other , the symbol Δ does not appear in Figure 2. This implies that our density data is
very useful for estimating c1 of ethanol. Clearly, our procedure of estimating c1 can be used in high school
chemistry lecture.
Excess molar volumes
Figure 3 Excess molar volumes VmE in the ethanol-water mixture
(a) w1 dependence, (b) x1 dependence
Figure 3 reveals the mole fraction or mass fraction dependence on excess molar volumes VmE in ethanol-
water mixtures. The VmE values are all negative and this fact means that the ethanol-water mixture is far
from ideal, and that the volume contraction occurs in mixing both [10-13]. The VmE values obtained using
our density data (▲) are in agreement with those using reference density values (Δ) except at 0.60 mass
fraction (0.37 mole fraction) of ethanol. Because the VmE values are fairly smaller than molar volumes of
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ethanol and water7, their slight errors may cause this inconsistency. The concentration dependence on
is similar to that on Δ, and our density data is reasonable if the experimental accuracy is took into
account. Obviously, our procedure of estimating VmE is valid in university lectures such as physical
chemistry, thermodynamics, or solution chemistry.
5. Conclusions
The densities of ethanol, water, and their mixtures have been determined at room temperature with the aid
of microscale experiments. Observed densities of these solutions are in agreement with reference data
within two significant figures. Densities can be determined with a few samples such as 1.2 mL. The
volumes of samples are reduced by less than 1/5 in comparison with the traditional experiment. It takes
only two minutes to carry out our microscale experiments in determining the density of every sample.
Molarities of ethanol and excess molar volumes in ethanol-water mixtures are also estimated over the
whole concentration range using our observed densities, and they are both satisfactory. Consequently, the
validity of our methods has been confirmed.
Acknowledgments
This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI [a Grant-in-aid for Scientific Research (C) from the Japan
Society for the Promotion of Science], Grant Number 20500748 and 24501072. And thank to Ms M.
Shiiba for her helping us perform our microscale experiments, and to Professor T. Yoshikuni and Dr. K.
Ohashi for their encouragements.
______________________________
7. The molar volumes of ethanol and water at 25 °C are 18.07 and 40.75 mL·mol-1 respectively [12].
References
[1] H. Yoshikawa et al., Mirai he Hirogaru Saiensu 1 (Junior High School Science in Japan 1), Keirinkan, Tokyo 2012 (in
Japanese)
[2] A. Arima et al., Rika no Sekai 1 (Junior High School Science in Japan 1), Dainippontosho, Tokyo 2012 (in Japanese)
[3] S. Okamura et al., Atarashii Kagaku 1 (Junior High School Science in Japan 1), Tokyoshoseki, 2012 (in Japanese)
[4] M. M. Singh, R. M. Pike, and Z. Szafran, Mircroscale and Selected Macroscale Experiments for General and Advanced
General Chemistry, Wiley, New York 1995
[5] J. Skinner, Microscale Chemistry, Royal Society of Chemistry, London 1997
[6] K. L. Williamson, J. G. Little, Microscale Experiments for General Chemistry, Houghton Mifflin, Boston 1997
[7] The Chemical Society of Japan (ed.), Microscale Chemistry Experiments, Tokyo 2003 (in Japanese)
[8] C. B. Bishop, M. B. Bishop, and K. W. Whitten, Standard and Microscale Experiments in General Chemistry, Fifth Edition,
Brook/Cole, Belmont 2004
[9] H. Shibahara, Y. Sato, Microscale Experiments, Ohmusha, Tokyo 2011 (in Japanese)
[10] T. Nakagawa, Rika no Kyoiku (Science Education in Japan), 2007, 56(8), 566 (in Japanese)
[11] T. Nakagawa, 21st International Conference on Chemical Education, Taipei, August 2010, p. 79
[12] T. Nakagawa, Chemical Education and Sustainability in the Global Age (Proceedings of 21st ICCE in Taipei), Springer, in
press
[13] T. Nakagawa, The International Chemical Congress of Pacific Basin Societies (Pacifichem), Honolulu, December 2010,
http://www.pacifichem.org/ Accessed 10 December 2010
[14] W. M. Haynes (ed.), CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 92nd ed., CRC Press, Boca Raton 2011
[15] T. Nakagawa, Educ. Chem. 1998, 35(4), 108
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Doing Inquiry in Chemistry and Biology
The Context’s Influence on the Students’ Cognitive Load
Andreas NEHRING1, Kathrin NOWAK2, Annette UPMEIER zu BELZEN2, Rüdiger TIEMANN1
1Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Institut für Chemie, Didaktik der Chemie - Brook-Taylor-Str. 2, 12489 Berlin
2Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Institut für Biologie, Fachdidaktik und Lehr-/Lernforschung Biologie,
Invalidenstraße 42 10115 Berlin
E-mail: andreas.nehring@chemie.hu-berlin.de E-mail: ruediger.tiemann@chemie.hu-berlin.de
Telefone: +49-(0)30-2093 7109 Telefax: Fax: +49-(0)30- 2093 7482
Abstract
In this study we investigated the context’s influence on the cognitive load of students working on
chemistry and biology inquiry tasks. Based on a theoretical structure describing epistemological actions
important for inquiry in science 90 inquiry tasks for chemistry and biology each were constructed and
given to 15 years old students of Berlin schools (N=428). These tasks contained typical inquiry problems
like the formulation of hypotheses, the planning of experiments and observations or the analysis of data
derived from these types of investigation. With the help of a 6 item scale showing an excellent internal
consistency the cognitive load was assessed after each of three inquiry methods: observing,
experimenting and modelling. The analysis revealed significant differences for cognitive load scores
between inquiry tasks for chemistry and for biology but no differences between the inquiry methods
within these two science disciplines. These findings indicate a context influence on the cognitive load of
students solving inquiry problems caused by the scientific discipline.
Keywords: Scientific Inquiry, Cognitive Load, Biology, Chemistry, Tasks
Introduction
Scientific Inquiry in Science Education
The current emphasis on scientific literacy in international chemistry and biology education research
highlights the role of concepts going beyond a simple understanding of chemical ideas and concepts. That
includes besides content knowledge skills and knowledge concerning an understanding of how science
gains new knowledge and which properties this knowledge has [1].
In the international discussion similar ideas occur under the labels “Scientific Inquiry”, “Nature of
Science” and “Nature of Scientific Inquiry”. These terms cover a complex set of ideas, beliefs, and
pedagogies that, over the past 40 years, has achieved much attention with little agreement [2]. However,
they figure prominently in educational standards of different countries [3-4]. The National Research
Council defines scientific inquiry as “the diverse ways in which scientists study the natural world and
propose explanations based on the evidence derived from their work”.
Lack of Research
Looking at educational practice research shows that amount of inquiry present in science
classrooms is limited [5]. Influencing factors like a lack of planning and instructional time, insufficient
materials, and inadequate professional development have frequently been cited in the research literature
[6]. However, only little attention has been paid on the context’s influence on the performance of students
solving inquiry problems and the implementation of scientific inquiry in science lessons by science
teachers.
Against this background, the purpose of this study was to examine the influence of the science context on
the students’ cognitive load while solving inquiry problems. A high cognitive load could be a responsible
factor for a different performance of students being confronted to this kind of problems. Therefore, 180
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multiple choice tasks assessing cognitive skills in scientific inquiry were constructed with reference to
science education theory and given to students aged 15 [7]. The cognitive load of students working on
these items was assessed.
Theoretical Framework
Based on contemporary science education theories [8-9], a two dimensional theoretical structure
describing scientific inquiry in chemistry and biology has been developed. It defines three inquiry
methods (modelling, experimenting, observing) and three steps of scientific reasoning (formulating
questions and hypotheses, planning and performing, analysing and reflecting) [7].
Figure 1 Theoretical structure describing scientific inquiry as a combination
of Inquiry Methods and Scientific Reasoning
Observing
An observation is a conscient, purposeful and theory driven activity. It is a form of perception that
requires a question or an objective and is carried out in a methodically-organized manner. Observations
rely on sensory perceptions. This includes all kind of senses, even those, who are made possible by the
use of auxiliary means. As observations are based on a certain objective, they focus on certain criteria and
neglect others. The observer has to distinguish between relevant or non-relevant information [10].
Furthermore, observations are made without manipulating the objects of investigation fundamentally in
order to verify or falsify correlative hypothesis. A fundamental manipulation can be defined as changes
that affect the object and its properties in a non-natural way. That does not automatically mean that the
observer’s role is passive. Manipulations can be done without changing the properties under investigation.
The control of the frame conditions does not constitute a fundamental manipulation as it has no impact on
the properties under investigation.
Comparing and Arranging
Comparisons relate two objects on the basis of at least one criterion. They are therefore defined as
tripartite relations which purpose is to identify similarities and differences of objects [11]. In contrast,
classifications involve objects with the aim of grouping and categorizing them. Both inquiry methods rely
on the use of criteria. Concerning comparison, it is important to use a single criterion for all objects.
Changing a criterion during a comparison means to falsify the results. Classifications can be done on the
basis of multiple criteria. However, one has to avoid an alteration within a classificatory system.
Experimenting
The inquiry methods differ from each other in terms of the purpose they are applied for. Accordingly,
conducting experiments means to purposivefully intervene in objects. To discover or verify causal
hypothesis, frame conditions influencing the object under investigation are changed systematically. By
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isolation, variation or combination of relevant factors principles concerning interconnections of relevant
variables can be derived [12].
Modelling
Models play a vital role in science as they provide a wide range of functions [13]. They visualize complex
phenomena, represent abstractions more concretely, allow predictions to be made and serve as basis for
explanations of empirical data. According to Mahr [14] an object oriented definition of what a model is
cannot be given. What is to be considered as a model depends on the viewpoint of a subject [15].
Concerning models in scientific inquiry the focus is on the application of models to gather new
knowledge. This application is determined by a purpose like generating hypothesis, predicting
characteristics of an object or explaining phenomena. Having clarified the purpose, a mental model is to
be chosen, derived or produced [16]. In order to generate data, the model has to be transformed into a
material, visual, verbal or mathematical representation. On this basis, the empirical testing takes place.
This includes the design and conduct of practical work to collect and analyse data. This process may even
start from an exploration of the model’s implications through thought experimentation conducted in the
mind [13]. Finally, the results are evaluated with regard to empirical data. If the model fails at this stage,
an attempt has to be made to modify the model and to restart model-based processes of scientific inquiry.
Cognitive Load Theory
Describing learning as schema construction this theory proposes a general framework for the conditions
of learning with regard to contents, environments and instructional materials [17]. It comprises three
different types of cognitive load:
1) Intrinsic cognitive load
2) Extrinsic cognitive load
3) Germane cognitive load
While extrinsic and germane cognitive load is generated by the way information is presented and the way
schemas are constructed by the individual the intrinsic cognitive load describes the inherent difficulty of
instructional content. Although some schemas may be divided into subschemas to facilitate learning
processes the influence of the instructional content does not allow an alteration of the intrinsic cognitive
load [18].
Rationale and Research Questions
Biology as a science discipline is concerned with the study of living organisms, including their structure,
function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy [19]. Chemistry dealing with the nature of
matter, especially its chemical reactions, its composition and properties focuses on its macroscopic but
also on its submicroscopic and symbolic level. Especially these two elements tend to be abstract and
complex [20]. If these characteristics influence students doing inquiry a higher cognitive load could be
responsible for a different performance of students doing inquiry in different contexts. Accordingly, the
study focused on two primary research questions:
1) Does the cognitive load of students working on inquiry problems from chemistry and biology
differ?
2) Does the cognitive load of students working on different inquiry methods differ?
Methods
Inquiry tasks in biology and chemistry
This study used a descriptive quantitative approach employing a total number of 180 inquiry tasks. These
assessed cognitive skills in scientific inquiry and referred to the inquiry methods and steps of scientific
thinking defined by the theoretical structure. Participants had to solve typical inquiry problems related to
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the formulation of hypotheses, the planning of experiments, observations and models and the analysis of
data derived from these types of investigation. One half of these tasks used biological contexts (plant
physiology, ecology, microbiology), the other half chemical contexts (salt, ion bonding, chemical
reaction). All contexts are part of Berlin school curriculum for chemistry and biology for the 9 th and 10th
grade. As we used a rotated test design participants had to solve 27 tasks for chemistry and biology each.
These items were aggregated separately in booklets for chemistry and biology. Formal item
characteristics like text length, graphical information, instructions and questions were kept constant. Thus,
elements causing differences between these items can be traced back to discipline specifics.
Cognitive Load
In order to assess the cognitive load of the participants we used a 6-item scale [20]. These items had to be
answered thrice a test booklet after 9 items per inquiry method each (observing, experimenting,
modelling). The instrument showed an excellent internal consistency = 0.92). An exploratory factor
analysis (Varimax Rotation, Kaiser-Stopping-Criterion) showed one single factor explaining 70.48 % of
the variance with factor loadings ranging from 0.79 to 0.88. These findings support the assumption that a
single latent construct is measured by the instrument.
Sample and Data Collection
Data were collected 2012 in eight Berlin Schools. The average age of the participants is 15.3 years (SD =
0.81). 56 % of the participants were female and 44 % male. The total sample comprises 428 participants
(100 %). Out of these 78.0 % worked on chemistry inquiry tasks and 47.9 % on biology inquiry tasks.
25.9 % performed on chemistry as well as on biology. All analysis comparing the cognitive load will be
based this sub-sample (N=111).
Results
Table 1 includes descriptive results from cognitive load items arranged by inquiry methods and scientific
context as well as results from the t-Tests.
Table 1 Descriptive results and results of t-Tests comparing means
of cognitive load between chemistry and biology inquiry tasks
Inquiry
Method
Cognitive
Load -
Chemistry
Cognitive
Load -
Biology
t-Test
Mean SD Mean SD T Df p
Observing 19,23 6,26 15,25 6,01 5.277 82 < 0.001
Experimenting 18,95 6,33 16,87 5,77 3.300 90 0.001
Modelling 19,61 6,13 17,83 6,30 2.584 83 0.012
The data showed significant differences between chemistry and biology for all three inquiry methods. The
cognitive load of chemistry inquiry tasks is perceived to be higher. Looking at effect sizes, we could find
medium and small effects (Observing: d=0.65, Experimenting: d = 0.35, Modelling: d = 0.29).
Table 2 presents descriptive results from cognitive load items arranged by scientific contexts and results
from the One-Way-ANOVA comparing the means for all three inquiry methods of one scientific
discipline.
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Table 2 Results of One-Way-ANOVA comparing means of cognitive load
of inquiry tasks for different inquiry methods
Inquiry
Methods
One-Way-
ANOVA
Observing Experimenting Modelling F p
Mean SD SD Mean SD
Chemistry 19,23 6,26 6,33 19,61 6,13 2, 0.51 0.950
Biology 15,25 6,01 5,77 17,83 6,30 2, 2.468 0.087
Although we could observe slight differences between the means of the inquiry methods within one
scientific discipline, these differences did not turn out be significant. Even if the means for observing and
modelling for biology differ, these differences have no or just a slight practical meaning as the effect sizes
show (chemistry: η² < 0.000, biology: η² < 0.017).
Table 3 summarizes the correlations of the cognitive load scores for the three inquiry methods arranged
by scientific discipline.
Table 3 Correlation analysis of cognitive load scores for different inquiry methods and different scientific disciplines (Pearson
product-moment correlation). All correlations are significant on the 1 % level (p < 0.01).
Cognitive
Load
Chemistry
Observing
Biology
Experimenting Modelling Observing Experimenting Modelling
Chemistry Observing
Experimenting
Modelling
.847
.839 853
Biology Observing
Experimenting
Modelling
.375
.494
.455
.426
.510
.544
.469
.542
.488
.810
.807 .814
These results show positive correlations for all inquiry methods. That means students tend to perceive
quite similar cognitive load no matter if it is a higher or lower. Strong correlations only appear within a
discipline (.810 ≤ r ≤ .853) while correlations between chemistry and biology can be interpreted as being
medium (.375 ≤ r.542). These values show that we found between 14.1 % and 29.4 % of the variance
to be common between chemistry and biology.
Conclusion
Summary
In this study we investigated the context’s influence on the cognitive load of students working on
chemistry and biology inquiry tasks. Working with 90 inquiry tasks for chemistry and for biology each we
used a 6 item scale with an excellent internal consistency to investigate the cognitive load’s perception of
15 year old students. Formal characteristics were kept constant to not bias the context’s influence.
Research Questions
Concerning our first research question the analysis revealed significant differences for cognitive load
scores between inquiry tasks for chemistry and for biology. Including medium to small effect sizes the
cognitive load of chemistry tasks is perceived to be higher. Concerning our second research question the
data showed no significant differences between the inquiry methods within chemistry or biology. The
perception of the inquiry methods within a scientific discipline seems to be quite similar.
Explanations of Findings
In order to explain these findings we assume that we could have found here an effect of the science
discipline. It is not clear if this effect is caused by the scientific content or even by the participants’ expe-
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ctations as chemistry is perceived to be a difficult school subject. However, the higher score of inquiry
tasks containing biological models highlights the influence of the content on the cognitive load. The
moderate values of common variance (between 14.1 % and 29.4 %) indicate a moderate influence of the
formal task characteristics as and the common theoretical framework being the basis for task construction.
Further research has to clarify whether these differences influence the students’ performance while
solving inquiry problems.
References
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und Physik, Oldenburg, p. 301
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http://www.project2061.org/publications/bsl/online/index.php?chapter=1. Accessed 20 August 2012
[9] D. Klahr, Exploring Science, The Mit Press, Cambridge 2002.
[10] N. Wellnitz & J. Mayer: Evaluation von Kompetenzstruktur und –niveaus zum Beobachten, Vergleichen, Ordnen und
Experimentieren, Erkenntnisweg Biologiedidaktik, In: D. Krüger, A. Upmeier zu Belzen, T. Riemeier, K. Niebert (eds.)
Erkenntnisweg Biologiedidaktik 7, pp. 129-144, VBio, 2008
[11] J. Arnold, N. Wellnitz & J. Mayer: Beschreibung und Messung von Beobachtungskompetenz bei Schülerinnen und
Schülern der Sekundarstufe I, In: D. Krüger, A. Upmeier zu Belzen, S. Nietz (eds.) Erkenntnisweg Biologiedidaktik 8, pp. 7-
22, VBio, 2010
[12] P. Janich, M. Weingarten, Wissenschaftstheorie der Biologie, UTB, Stuttgart 1999.
[13] R. Justi, J. Gilber: The Role of Analog Models in the Understanging of the Nature of Models in Chemistry. In: P. J.
Aubusson, A. G. Harrison, S. M. Ritchie (eds.) Metaphor and Analogy in Science Education, pp. 119-130, Springer, Dordrecht
2006.
[14] B. Mahr, Informatik Spektrum, 2009, DOI 10.1007/s00287-009-0340-y
[15] B. Mahr, Das Wissen im Modell, KIT-Report Nr. 150, Berlin 2004.
[16] C. J. Boulter & B. C. Buckley: Constructing a typology of models for science education. In: J. K. Gilbert, C. J. Boulter
(eds.) Developing models in science education, pp. 41-57, Dordrecht, Kluwer, 2000
[17] J. Sweller, J. J. G. van Merrienboer, F. G. W. C. Paas, Educational Psychology Review, 1998, DOI:
10.1023/A:1022193728205
[18] J. Sweller, Learning and Instruction, 1994, 4, 4, 295-312
[19] Texas State University. Glossary. http://www.bio.txstate.edu/~wetlands/Glossary/glossary.html. Accessed 20 August 2012
[20] A. H. Johnstone, J. Chem. Educ, 1993, DOI: 10.1021/ed070p701
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Inquiry-Based Learning in Japan
Haruo OGAWA1, Hiroki FUJII2
1Department of Chemistry, Tokyo Gakugei University, 4-1-1 Nukuikitamachi, Koganei, Tokyo 184-8501, Japan
E-mail: ogawah@u-gakugei.ac.jp
2Department of Science Education, Graduate School of Education, Okayama University, 3-1-1
Tsushimanaka, Kita-ku, Okayama 700-8530, Japan
Abstract
Challenges of inquiry-based instruction in Japan have so far been advocated by the Ministry of
Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) with the guidelines of the Courses of Study.
Though it is regrettable, systematic teaching methods are not established and actually there is almost no
example of systematic instructions until now in third-level chemistry, even from primary schools through
upper secondary schools by the reason of adoption of the methodology by a teacher’s discretion. Of
course, in the corresponding schools, inquiry-based instruction has been individually advanced by
discretion, and appropriate success has been achieved. Recently, the trial which gazes at inquiry-based
instruction has come to be seen with university’s own discretion as preparation of graduation research.
The current situation and trials of inquiry-based instruction mainly on tertiary education in Japan
(“Super Science High Schools” in high school education is also within a view as reference) are
introduced.
Key words: Inquiry-based learning, inquiry-based instruction, higher education in Japan, third chemistry,
graduation research, project learning
1. Introduction
Challenges of inquiry-based instruction in Japan have so far been advocated by the Ministry of Education,
Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) with the guidelines of the Courses of Study [1].
Though it is regrettable, systematic teaching methods are not established and actually there is almost no
example of systematic instructions until now from primary schools through upper secondary schools by
the reason of adoption of the methodology by a teachers discretion. Of course, in the corresponding
schools, inquiry-based instructions have been individually advanced by discretion, and appropriate
success has been achieved. Recently, MEXT is enforcing Super Science High Schools (SSH) which focus
their education on science and math putting practice of inquiry learning on importance, and the Japan
Science and Technology Agency supports them. In the university-level education, it is rare that systematic
inquiry-based instruction is incorporated on a curriculum because graduation research is set up at the last
reaching point on a curriculum as compulsory subject at almost all Japanese universities. The graduation
research is performed along with the process of science on the basis of inquiry-based approaches.
Recently, the trial which gazes at inquiry-based instruction has come to be seen with university’s own
discretion as preparation of graduation research. In this session, the current situation and trials of inquiry-
based instruction mainly on tertiary education in Japan (high school education is also within a view) are
introduced.
2. Circumstances and present condition
2.1 higher education in Japan
Competencies to be acquired through bachelor’s abilities: reference guideline for learning results common
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among bachelor courses; it is recommended that university clarify its policy for awarding academic
degree based on each item in such reference guidelines. Some examples are advocated. As “Knowledge /
Understanding,” in addition to systematic understanding of the basic knowledge of a specific field of
major, understanding of many and different cultures and understanding of human culture, society and
nature is recommended, as “General-purpose skills,” skills required for intellectual activities as well as
professional and social life as like communication skills, numerical competence, information-technology,
logical thinking and problem solving skills, and as “Comprehensive learning and its application,” the
ability is required, with which a person can comprehensively utilize the knowledge, skills, behaviors and
other experience acquired to date to successfully apply such experience to solving new issues. Each
university clarifies its policy for awarding academic degree, and the curriculum is made up with its
policy, individually. Inquiry-based instruction is incorporated on a curriculum at the last reaching point on
a curriculum as compulsory subject at almost all Japanese universities. The graduation research is
performed along with the process of science on the basis of inquiry-based approaches. Through the
practice of the process, students raise the ability to design and conduct scientific investigations, formulate
scientific explanations using experimental evidence, and effectively communicate the results of scientific
investigations. Especially in natural science, it is considered that acquisition of knowledge and skill based
on a framework of scientific system is very important, and adequate special-subjects are put weight on it
as the preparatory step towards graduation research. This view has not been an exception even in a subject
experimental. Recently, the trial which gazes at inquiry-based instruction has come to be seen with
university’s own discretion as preparation of graduation research.
2.2 Case of Tokyo Gakugei University as one of typical example
Tokyo Gakugei University (TGU) is is one of the national universities in Japan and has a reputation of
Japan’s center of teacher education. Programs of student education consist of faculty of education
consisting of Teacher Training Course and Liberal Arts Course, Graduate School of Education (Master’s
Course), and United Graduate School of Education (Doctoral Course) [2]. Curriculum of teacher training
course consists of liberal arts subjects, foundation subjects, content subjects, and graduation research
positioning as a compilation (goal) of an educational program. In the case of learning program for
chemistry course student [3], sufficient lectures and experiments required for chemistry research are
incorporated, where as an experimental, four experiments of “Chemistry,” “Physical chemistry,”
“Inorganic chemistry,” and “Organic chemistry,” are adopted.
2.2.1 “Generalization-Project” learning as a liberal arts subject
It is usually referred to as “Project learning” in TGU (Fig. 1). Policy is stated as follows, project learning
consists of buildup approaches as preliminary quasi-graduation research for second grader by support of
one year and about 3 to 4 professors through scientific methodology [4]. The research activities including
extracurricular activities for one year are expected. Three compulsory subjects in seven fields are set up
for all the students. Twenty eight themes in 2009 were set up, and eight examples related with science
were stood as a candidate. Each student chooses and studies one theme which is separately pleasing. Each
theme is put weight on inquiry-based learning as the preparatory step towards graduation research.
Typical methodology of science including the procedure of integration of results, hypothesis, modeling,
and verification should sustainably be repeated and repeated by scientists, as much as any other
profession. Even in subject of “Project learning” it is desirable that students should educate themselves in
a similar manner with their tolerance through research.
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Fig. 1. “Project learning” in Tokyo Gakugei University
2.2.2 “Physical chemistry experiment” as a special subject
Contents of physical chemistry experiment are listed in Table 1. The experiment is conducted by the
theme which made full use of instrumental analysis technique. Flow of the lesson is shown in Table 2.
Interview at the step 5 is a key for checking how target attainment was accomplished.
Table 1. Contents of “Physical Chemistry Experiment”
Table 2. Flow of the lesson
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2.2.2.1 Thermodynamic calculation with heat measurement
Student measures the heat of potassium chloride KCl dissolution in water by infinite dilution method and
calculates enthalpy change of the dissolution ΔHdissol through the basic experiment [5]. As deployment
work, student searches literatures of enthalpy change of lattice ΔHlat, and then finally the number of
hydration should be calculated by the entropy method with total enthalpy change of the hydration ΔHhyd.
2.2.2.2 Determination of Avogadro constant by XRD measurement
Quadratic prism of sodium chloride NaCl is formed from halite by cleavage. The density is evaluated
from the size and the gravity. On the other hand, XRD pattern of granular halite is measured and analyzed
to obtain the crystalline lattice and the geometry of NaCl by use of our developed program on PC (Fig 2)
[6]. As deployment work, student determines their own Avogadro constant based on obtained data.
Fig. 2. Determination of Avogadro constant
2.2.2.3 Adsorption of benzoic acid (BA) to alumina by UV and FT-IR measurements
Student makes the adsorption isotherm from the data measured by the experiment at a certain temperature
by UV absorption (Fig. 3) and carries out the verification of the obtained isotherm on the basis of
Langmuir equation. On the other hand, student analyzes the IR absorption spectra obtained by FT-IR
measurement of the adsorption samples of a certain amount of BA [7]. Student ultimately proposes a
model of BA adsorption on alumina vs. a covering rate θ (Fig. 4) as deployment work. Student also
proposes the experimental planning for obtainment of the thermodynamic properties of ΔGad, ΔHad, and
Δsad.
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Fig. 3. Adsorption isotherm of BA on alumina (290K)
Fig. 4. Proposed model of BA adsorption on alumina
2.3 Operation in secondary education continuing to university education
The Course of Study of high school science in Japan was revised in 2009, in which the subject of
"Science Subject Research" was newly established for the purpose of the cultivation of a base of students’
creativity through the inquiry-based learning [8]. There is almost no example of systematic inquiry-based
instructions even in upper secondary schools by the reason of adoption of the methodology by a teachers
discretion. Research of this field in the high school chemistry develops individually, however neither
systematic research on proper contents of lesson nor effective teaching and learning methods is
regrettably shown. Of course, inquiry-based instructions have been individually advanced by discretion in
specific schools, e.g. one of the schools burdens all the students with graduation thesis, and appropriate
success has been achieved [9]. Recently, MEXT is enforcing Super Science High Schools (SSH) which
focus their education on science and math putting practice of inquiry learning on importance, and the
Japan Science and Technology Agency supports them. Outline of SSH is described below, in order to
raise the future international talented people who engage technology relations, the high school which
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carries out the advanced number education of science and math is made into SSH. It specifies and
supports the experiential, problem-solving study, etc. through development and practice of the
curriculum, irrespective of the government guidelines, for teaching, subject research promotion,
observation, an experiment, etc. The adopted high school is managed along with each following theme
target,
- Experiential and problem-solving study through observation, experiment, etc.
- Promotion of subject research.
- Strengthening of linguistic capacity required in order to raise internationalism.
- Research of the teaching method which improves creativity and originality.
- Positive participation in an international technology contest, etc.
Selected SSH has amounted to 145 schools including 29 as the Core SSH in 2011 and is aimed at 200
schools by 2014.
3. Conclusion and Discussions
Challenges of inquiry-based instruction in Japan have so far been advocated by the Ministry of Education,
Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) with the guidelines of the Courses of Study [1]. The
subject of “Science Subject Research” was newly established for the purpose of the cultivation of a base
of students’ creativity through the inquiry-based learning in high school-level science [8], and MEXT is
enforcing Super Science High Schools (SSH) which focus their education on science and math putting
practice of inquiry learning on importance. However, systematic teaching methods are not regrettably
established, and actually there is almost no example of systematic instructions until now even upper
secondary schools besides university-level education. Systematic research on proper contents of lesson
for effective teaching and learning methods for inquiry-based instructions is expected eagerly.
Example of inquiry-based experiment in secondary chemistry has been proposed in 35 themes of
experiments, in which the procedure of inquiry-based experiment is explained painstakingly [10]. One of
the goals of teaching science should be teaching the process of science [11] and give students the
opportunity to learn or appreciate the process of science. The 1996 NSES expect teachers to plan and
incorporate inquiry into the science curriculum [12]. Some of the student outcomes listed in the NSES
document include the ability to design and conduct scientific investigations, formulate scientific
explanations using experimental evidence, and effectively communicate the results of scientific
investigations. Research has shown that students using a laboratory-investigative approach show
significant gains in formulating hyposeses, making assumptions, designing and executing investigations,
understanding variables, making careful observations, recording data, analyzing and interpreting results,
and synthesizing new knowledge, as well as the development of curiosity, openness, responsibility, and
satisfaction [13]. Research usually needs patience, and this is one of the important factors in science
research. Teachers stance, how teachers can successfully incorporate inquiry into the laboratory without
overwhelming themselves or the students [14], is needless to say also important.
Creative thinking is a key for students to have images of objectives as in phenomena, chemical concepts,
and molecular world in chemistry through inquiry-based learning as like problem-solving, subject
research, etc. [15] It is important for student to have thinking and behaving imaginatively, and finally to
have an outcome which is of value to the original objective [16-17]. Promoting creativity in science has
been reported and discussed in papers [18-23]. Scientists, as much as any other profession, are passionate
and involved humans whose work relies on inspiration and imagination as mentioned by Osborne [19].
Even in science education it is more desirable that students should educate themselves in a similar
manner. Thinking and behaving imaginatively in science would be important to promote creativity as
outcome with value to the original objective [16-17, 23-24]. Child and/or Osborne, et al. mentioned that
students should appreciate that science is an activity that involves creativity and imagination as much as
many other human activities, and that some scientific ideas are enormous intellectual achievements [18-
19]. The learning on the basis of students’ enthusiastic activities on imaginative thinking and behaving
would be of great importance to understand science. Realizing images led to understanding are expected
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to be enhanced students’ enthusiastic activities. Student’s attitude being enthusiastic toward the
possibilities of their own abilities with their own images would enhance the understanding of objectives
besides with the hope of acquiring sufficient knowledge and skills through inquiry-based learning.
Further development of the research on this field is sincerely expected.
References
[1] http://www.mext.go.jp/english/a05.htm; ibid. a06.htm. Accessed 1 July 2012
[2] Guidebook of Tokyo Gakugei University, 2011; www.u-gakugei.ac.jp. Accessed 1 July 2012
[3] H. Ogawa and T. Hasegawa, Chemistry & Education, 1999, 47, 684-685. (in Japanese)
[4] H. Ogawa, Chemistry & Education, 2000, 48, 505-507. (in Japanese)
[5] A. Ikuo, Y. Yashinaga, S. Hasegawa, and H. Ogawa, Bull. Tokyo Gakugei Univ. Natur. Sci., 2007, 59, 27-35. (in Japanese)
[6] A. Ikuo, N. Enuma, S. Teratani, S. Hasegawa, T. Shishid, and H. Ogawa, Chemical Education JournalCEJ, 20058,
No. 2 (Serial No. 15), Reg. No. 8-10. (in Japanese)
[7] H. Ogawa, T. Chihara, and K. Taya, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 1985, 107, 1365-1369; H. Ogawa, J. Phys. Org. Chem., 1991, 4,
346-352.
[8] Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Technology in Japan, Course of Study of High School Science, 2009.
[9] “In writing a graduation thesis,” Ed. Waseda University Senior School at Honjo, 2011.
[10] American Chemical Society, Inquiry-Based Experiment in Chemistry”, Oxford University Press, Washington, D.C.,
2000. ISBN 0-8412-3507-8
[11] Benchmarks for Science Literacy: Project 2061, American Association for the Advancement of science. Oxford University
Press, New York, 1993, 3.
[12] Chemistry in the National Science Education Standards, American Chemical Society, Washington, DC, 1997, 19.
[13] K. P. Raghubir, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 1979, 13-17.
[14] Chemistry in the National Science Education Standards, American Chemical Society, Washington, DC, 1997, 22-23.
[15] Haruo Ogawa, article in the book of The 4th NICE (Network for Inter-Asian Chemistry Educators) Symposium, 2011, 4-
15; H. Fujii and H. Ogawa, Proc. Intern. Conf. EASE (East-Asian Association for Science Education), 2011, 62-68; H.
Ogawa, H. Fujii, and Y. Ohashi, “Innovation in Science and Technology Education: Research, Policy, Practice”, Ed Jack
Holbrook et al, University Tartu, 2010, 253-256. (ISBN 978-9985-4-0607-6); H. Ogawa, H. Fujii, and M. Sumida, The
Chemical Education Journal (CEJ), 13, No. 1, 13-1, (6 pages), 2009.
[16] J. Wardle, School Science Review, 2009, 90 (332), 29-30.
[17] R. A. Finke, T. B. Ward, and S. M. Smith. “Creative Cognition: Theory, Research and Applications,” MIT Press, 1992.
[18] E. P. Child, Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 2009, 10, 189-203.
[19] J. Osborne, M. Ratcliffe, H. Bartholomew, S. Collins, R. Millar and R. Duschi Towards evidence-based practice in
science education 3: teaching pupils ‘Ideas-about-science,’ 2003, available at
http://www.tlrp.org/pub/documents/no3_miller.pdf, accessed 15 Oct. 2010.
[20] T. Jarvis, School Science Review, 2009, 90 (332), 39-46.
[21] L. Höhn and G. Harsh, School Science Review, 2009, 90 (332), 73-81.
[22] S. Longshaw, School Science Review, 2009, 90 (332), 91-94.
[23] T. Ohshima, “Rika Kyoujyu no Genri (Principle of science teaching),” Doubunkan Co., 1920, 314-330. (in Japanese).
[24] S. D. Domin, Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 2008, 9, 291-300.
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Aspects Related to the Continuous Professional Development of Chemistry Teachers
Stated in the Frame of PROFILES Training Program
Radu Lucian OLTEANU1, Crinela DUMITRESCU1,
Gabriel GORGHIU2, Laura Monica GORGHIU1
1 Faculty of Sciences and Arts, Valahia University Târgovişte, 18-24 Unirii Bd., 130082 Târgovişte, Romania
2 Electrical Engineering Faculty, Valahia University Târgovişte, 18-24 Unirii Bd., 130082 Târgovişte, Romania
E-mail: r_olteanu@yahoo.com, Tel/Fax: 00400 245 213 382
Abstract
In Romania, the teaching career represents an important objective of the National Strategy of
Development, being strong related to the training process of the school personnel. It is important to
emphasize that during the last years it was imposed moreover the need of continuously training of the
teachers, both on theoretical and practical aspects. In fact, the success of the reforming process (in
primary and secondary Romanian education system) depends on the continuously teachers’ professional
development, especially done in the frame of several programs who aim to gain specific competencies for
teachers.
In this sense, the “PROFILES - Education through Sciences“ training program is oriented on the
improving of teaching activities, being organized in the frame of the European Project “PROFILES -
Professional Reflection-Oriented Focus on Inquiry-based Learning and Education through Science”
(code: 5.2.2.1-SiS-2010-2.2.1-266589), which has as objective to promote reflection-oriented teaching -
where this enhances students’ scientific literacy -, and to design a collaborative network, able to offer to
Science teaches and researchers the possibility of active cooperation by promoting ideas and specific
training materials, spreading the best practices, seminaries, workshops etc.
The present paper illustrates the main aspects of the PROFILES continuous professional development
program in Romania, its specific background and components, as well as results obtained during first
phase of the training program.
Keywords: PROFILES - Education through Sciences training program, Inquiry-based Science
Education, reflection-oriented teaching, teachers competencies
Introduction
The policies and strategies regarding the organizing of scientific education in Europe have as objective
the improvement and the encouraging of Science teaching / learning process, keeping in view the
stimulation and increasing of pupils’ interest for Sciences. This aim can be obtain by changing the manner
of Sciences teaching and also making a transition from the deductive form to that based on scientific
inquiry [1].
In this context, in the frame of PROFILES - Education through Sciences program, the teachers’
professional development was assured by the integration of all Science areas in the teaching process.
The PROFILES - Education through Sciences training program was developed and accredited - at
national level - with the declared aim to response to a clear necessity for Romanian Science teachers on
promoting training reflection-oriented, pedagogical and scientific competencies, Inquiry-based Science
Education (IBSE) and related approaches which can be implemented in the educational environment.
More, the proposed training program, answered to the conclusions of the curricular Delphi Study (first
stage), based on a clear methodology [2-4] and performed in the frame of PROFILES project [5-6] that
involved in Romania more than 100 stakeholders in reflecting on contents and aims of Science Education,
as well as in outlining aspects and approaches of modern Science Education.
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1. General objectives of the training program
The general objective of the “PROFILES - Education through Sciences training program consists on the
forming and developing of Sciences teachers competencies for achieving a didactic process based on
scientific inquiry and integrated approach of the curricula. In the frame of the proposed program, a major
importance was given to the promotion of the scientific and pedagogical teachers competencies, IBSE and
related approaches, which can be implemented in the Romanian educational environment.
1.1. The correlation between training program objectives and Romanian standards
The objectives of the PROFILES - Education through Sciences training program were established
according to the Romanian continuously training standards, based on the needs of the target groups for
developing new competencies, to be applied with the view of an efficient didactic process adapted to the
national particularities and pupils’ needs.
The training program was elaborated according to the methodology of the accredited continuously
training programs, offering the possibility for teachers to obtain 15 credits. The modules / themes
included in the training program were selected based on a training needs analysis, the results of a first
stage of Delphi study and the existent frame of professional and didactical competencies.
1.2. General competencies addressed by the training program
It is important to emphasize that in the present years it was imposed the need of implementing active
learning programs, to make the transition from educational model based on the principle “learn to know”
to that based on “learn to make”. Thus, the redefining teacher’s role and the changing of social
characteristics of this profession became the main factors of designing and developing of training
programs.
Of course, the teacher must have certain competencies that will allow him/her to develop a qualitative
educational process adapted to the pupils’ particularities, starting with communicating competencies and
ending with competencies related to the use of computers use in the teaching / learning process.
The general and specific competencies of the training program are in concordance with the Romanian
standards, reflecting specific competencies from the national professional standards: methodological,
communicating and relationship, evaluating, technical and technological, career management
competencies etc.
2. Structure of the training program
The structure of the training program consisted of two modules:
1) Modern approaches on Science teaching;
2) Teaching oriented Inquiry Based Science Education.
For each of the training modules, general and specific competencies, content units, types of activities
(lecture, practical applications and evaluation), allocated time, methods and instruments for evaluation,
recommended bibliography, were described.
Based on the training program objectives, teachers proposed contents, strategies, activities related to the
students needs and designed learning modules according to the structure of the program.
2.1. Training strategy
For achieving the proposed objectives, planned and managed related resources (human, material,
financial, information), but also didactical strategies were established. There were used interactive
strategies which stimulated active involvement of the students during training activities that allowed them
to develop abilities, skills, competencies, understanding and self-evaluation capabilities.
The didactic approaches were structured in order to emphasize modern strategies, allowing the students to
be active, formulate ideas and opinions, debate, experiment, as methods to access the theories and
practices offered by a specific content. The learning environment was based on action, research,
experimenting and offered the possibility to practice a qualitative act of learning that led to long term
acquisitions that can be used and applied in various training and practical contexts.
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The training / improving of the general competencies was made during the whole training program, based
on the identified training needs.
2.2 Methods and training techniques
The training program promoted active methods and learning techniques that had in view the use of new
didactic technologies: lecture-discussion, discussion, demonstration, panel discussion, questioning, case
study, brainstorming, methods and techniques used for cooperative learning, experiment, role-gaming,
project, SWOT analysis etc.
Those methods and techniques had positive effects in the frame of own cognitive development (critical
thinking), creativity, teamwork capacity, cooperation / collaboration spirit, solving problems, allowing the
students to practice their pedagogical competencies and put in value their didactical experience.
2.3. Forms and modalities to organize and develop the training activities
The training program had in view to make compatibles the planned activities with adult learning
particularities. The “PROFILES - Education through Sciences” training program proposed theoretical and
applied activities that put in value the cognitive, affective and active students’ resources.
The activities of the training program are structured as frontal (lectures), micro-group (applied activities)
and individual (projects, reflection themes). All forms and modalities for organizing and development of
the activities are designed in accordance to target group particularities, keeping in touch the adult specific
ways of learning, students’ own learning capabilities and appealing to the use of experiences.
2.4. Forms and methods of evaluation
The evaluation assessed the way of knowledge transfer in the current practice and the manner in which
the students demonstrate the acquisition of the required competencies. The methods used for evaluation
were: portfolio-project (individual or group work), case studies, themes of reflection etc.
The final evaluation was made by public presentation of a project composed by 5 specific sections:
Introduction, Student’s activities, Teacher’s Guide, Evaluation and Teacher’s Notes. The scale used for the
evaluation of the portfolio was defined by using the following rates: excellent, very well, well, enough,
not enough.
3. Structure of the target group
The target group was established based on the programmatic requirements and realities of Romanian
schools, being composed of teachers from primary and secondary level from Dambovita County
(Chemistry, Physics and Biology), as is shown in figure 1. The recruiting and selection of target group
members was made respecting the equal opportunities principle, avoiding discrimination, assuring access
and equal involvement of all students in the training activities.
Figure 1 Distribution of the target group involved in the “PROFILES - Education through Sciences” training program
Related to the implementation of the PROFILES Modules, there were involved 1100 (initially) and 1022
(finally) questioned pupils; the initial and final questionnaires were designed to obtain - among other
issues - pupils’ views on the “ideal” lessons which they like to attend in the area of Science respectively
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their views on the “actual” or “real” lessons in the same area [7]. The implementation was made on 41
classrooms: 22 from primary level 19 from secondary level, as is shown in figure 2.
Figure 2 Implementation of the PROFILES Modules at various educational levels
4. Conclusions
The “PROFILES - Education through Sciences” training program has proved to be - from the beginning -
an essential training program for the professional development of Sciences’ teachers in the actual
Romanian context. As results, successful implementations with positive pupils’ feedback were achieved.
In the end, it was noticed a high interest regarding the teaching / learning process approach from
Sciences’ teachers and pupils, especially.
Acknowledgments
This work was funded through the Seventh Framework Programme PROFILES - Professional
Reflection Oriented Focus on Inquiry-based Learning and Education through Science” No. 5.2.2.1 -
SiS-2010-2.2.1, Grant Agreement No. 266589, Supporting and coordinating actions on innovative
methods in Science education: teacher training on inquiry based teaching methods on a large scale in
Europe. The support offered by the European Commission as well as the Community Research and
Development Information Service as responsible for the management of EU’s programmes in the fields of
research and innovation, through the project mentioned above, is gratefully acknowledged.
References
1. Eurydice, 2011. Science Education in Europe: National Policies, Practices and Research. Brussels: Eurydice, Romanian
translation. http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/education/eurydice/documents/thematic_reports/133RO_HI.pdf. Accesed 10 June 2012
2. H.A. Linstone & M. Turoff (Hrsg.), The Delphi Method: Techniques and Applications, Reading, Mass. u.a: Addison-
Wesley, 1975
3. C. Bolte, A Conceptual Framework for the Enhancement of Popularity and Relevance of Science Education for
Scientific Literacy, based on Stakeholders’ Views by Means of a Curricular Delphi Study in Chemistry, Science Education
International, 2008, 19(3), 331-350
4. J. Osborne, J. F. Ratcliffe, M. Collins, R. Millar & R. Dusch, What “Ideas about-Science” Should Be Taught in School
Science? A Dephi Study of the Expert Community, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 2003, 40(7), 692-720
5. C. Bolte, S. Streller, J. Holbrook, M. Rannikmae, R. Mamlok Naaman, A. Hofstein, F. Rauch, Profiles: Professional
Reflection-Oriented Focus on Inquiry based Learning and Education through Science, Proceedings of the European Science
Educational Research Association (ESERA), Lyon, France, 2011, (in press)
6. C. Bolte, S. Streller, M. Rannikmae, J. Holbrook, A. Hofstein, R. Mamlok Naaman, F. Rauch, Profiles Projekt
erfolgreich gestartet. In S. Unterricht. Zur Didaktik der Physik und Chemie. Probleme und Perspektiven , Műnster. Lit-Verlag,
2012, (in press)
7. C. Bolte, S. Streller, Evaluating Student Gains in the PROFILES Project, Proceedings of the European Science
Educational Research Association (ESERA), Lyon, France, 2011, (in press)
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The Experiments with Isoprenoids in Chemical Education
Michala OPATOVA, Simona HYBELBAUEROVA
Department of Teaching and Didactics of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Charles University in Prague,
Albertov 3, 128 43 Prague, Czech Republic
E-mail: opatova.michala@gmail.com
Tel: +420723435781
Abstract
Isoprenoids are compounds often found in nature and can be divided into 2 groups, terpenoids (i.e.
menthol, β-carotene, vitamin A, betulin) and steroids (i.e. cholesterol). They are used as an additive (β-
carotene as substance to colour products, menthol for cooling effects) in food industry. Isoprenoids are
also used in care products (menthol in toothpaste and shampoo, limonene in the beauty care) and
medicine (steroids for eczema problems).
Frequent use of these compounds in common life is the reason why we introduce them and their
properties to pupils. The chemical experiments are the best way how to learn about these compounds and
their properties (solubility, reactivity, ability to crystallize, and polarity). During these activities the
pupils practice basic laboratory techniques - extraction, crystallization, detection, isolation of isoprenoid
from the natural materials or from food in supermarket, thin layer chromatography, column
chromatography, using UV light, simple organic reaction and other techniques.
We prepared innovated experiments which demonstrate that different isoprenoids have similar properties.
Other experiments exploit the similarity of isoprenoids with different types of compounds. In our article
we mention experiments with menthol in candies, cholesterol from egg yolk, ester with menthol aroma
(ethyl benzoate) and menthyl ester with floral aroma and other experiments.
Keywords: isoprenoids, menthol, betulin, school experiments, chromatography
1. Isoprenoids in High School Chemical Education
The topic isoprenoids is discussed in high school in Czech Republic in the last year of chemical
education. The pupil shall explain the structure and function of compounds [1]. According to the most
often used textbook of chemistry in Czech Republic [2] there is focus on the basic unit isoprene (2-
methylbuta-1,3-diene) at first. These natural compounds are dividing into two groups, terpenes and
steroids. The terpenes are divided into subgroups according to the number of basic units in the molecule
and each group is described (important representatives, their structure, properties and presence). Steroids,
derivatives of steran, are discussed less, teachers mention only the most significant examples of steroids
such as cholesterol and steroid hormones, their structure and their effect on human health.
2. The Experiments with Isoprenoids in High School
The experiments with isoprenoids are not widely used in high school. One reason is short period of time
given to this theme and that’s why teachers don’t have enough time to realize the experiments. Another
reason is lack of laboratory work. Some high schools have only 4 hours of laboratory work during whole
school year. Then the teachers choose experiments focused on other themes of organic chemistry or
biochemistry. On the other hand experiments with isoprenoids can be integrated in the themes of general
chemistry, i.e. in separating methods (chromatography, extraction, crystallization), solutions (solubility of
isoprenoids, decolorize the solution) or the topic using nontraditional aids (UV light). Common
experiments in this part of chemistry education which are realized in high school are distillation of
essential oil (i.e. from citrus) and chromatography of plant´s dyes.
2.1 Experiments with Isoprenoids
Following five experiments are focused on isoprenoids which can be isolated from natural material and
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271
can be use as substrate in chemical reaction. Some material containing isoprenoids can be bought in the
supermarket (menthol candies) or it can be found in nature (betulin).
During laboratory work students can practice these methods: thin layer chromatography (TLC) or column
chromatography (CC), extraction, crystallization, detection with chemical agent such as 10% sulphuric
acid or with UV light. The first three experiments take more time (more than two hours) but the teacher
can prepare part of the experiment during theoretical lesson in the class before planned laboratory work
(i.e. extraction of natural material). The crystallization can be watched in class during week. The last two
experiments are quick and easy, the teacher can show them in class to motivate students or add them to
another experiment during the laboratory work.
2.1.1 Isolation of Menthol and its Detection
Menthol is monoterpene (Structure 1) with nice smell, it occurs in nature in plant peppermint Mentha
piperita [3]. It is added to food or cosmetics for its cooling effect. Menthol creates white or colorless
crystals (Figure 1). Menthol aroma can be prepared by esterification of benzoic acid with ethanol in
presence of sulphuric acid. Menthol can be used as secondary alcohol in esterification to give
menthylesters which give floral aroma.
Procedure: Five candies containing menthol were fractioned between water and 1,2-dichlorethan. The
dichlorethan fraction was used for free crystallization of menthol.
Detection of menthol by TLC: mobile phase: hexane/ethyl-acetate 2/1, detection by fosfomolybdenic acid
or 10% solution of sulfuric acid with heat. Retention factor Rf is 0.8.
Structure 1 Menthol Figure 1 Crystals of menthol, source: author
2.1.2 Isolation of Betulin and its Detection
Betulin is triterpene (Structure 2), occuring in the birch bark (broad-leaved birch tree Betula pendula)
which contain up to 30% of the dry weight of the extract. It creates white crystals (Figure 2). Betulin and
its derivatives are used for biological activity (against a variety of tumors).
Procedure: 5 grams of birch bark was extracted by ethanol under reflux at 60°C for two hours. The
ethanol extract was filtrated and evaporated under reduced pressure. The CC of the residue (mobile phase:
hexane/ethyl-acetate 5/1 and solid phase: silica gel) afforded the pure betulin.
Detection of betutin by TLC: mobile phase: hexane/ethyl acetate 5/1, detection by fosfomolybdenic acid
or 10% solution of sulfuric acid with heat. Rf = 0.25.
Structure 2 Betulin Figure 2 Crystals of betuline, source: author
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OH
HO
CH
2
OH
272
2.1.3 Isolation of Cholesterol and its Detection
Cholesterol is steroid (Structure 3), which occurs in many foods. It can be isolated from egg yolk [4] and
creates colorless crystals (Figure 3). It is famous for its unhealthy effect on human body.
Procedure: Two boiled egg yolks were extracted by acetone and 1,2-dichlorethan. The extract was
filtrated and evaporated. The residue was fractioned by CC (hexane/diethylether 3/1, silica gel). The
cholesterol was crystallized from one fraction.
Detection of cholesterol by TLC: mobile phase hexane/diethylether 3/1, detection by fosfomolybdenic
acid or 10% solution of sulfuric acid with heat. Rf = 0.2.
Structure 3 Cholesterol Figure 3 Crystals of cholesterol, source: author
2.1.4 Decolorize β-carotene
β-carotene is tetraterpene (Structure 4), it is red-orange pigment occurring in plants (fruits, vegetables,
leaves). Its importance is as a precursor of vitamin A, it is added to sun cream for healthy skin and added
to food for its colour (E160).
Procedure: The carrot was cut into small pieces and crushed. Chloroform was added to the carrot. The
mixture was filtrated. Solution of potassium permanganate with sulfuric acid was added to a filtrate
(2mL). The mixture was without colour (Figure 4) after five minutes.
The carrot obtains β-carotene which was oxidized by these reagents.
Structure 4 β-carotene Figure 4 Decolorize β-carotene, source: author
2.1.5 The detection of vitamin A
Vitamin A is a diterpene (Structure 5) soluble in lipids and it is important for our eyes.
Procedure: Vitamin A (in the capsule) was proved under UV light, it fluoresced (Figure 5). It is
distinctively different from vitamin C which cannot be proved under UV light.
Another experiment: Vitamin A reacted with antimony trichloride. After while it is going to be dark blue.
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HO
273
Structure 5 Vitamin A Figure 5 Vitamin A under UV light, source: author
Acknowledgment
Supported by research project MSMT 0021620857.
Reference list
[1] Framework education programme for secondary general education, VÚP, Prague 2007
[2] Marecek A., Honza J. Chemie pro ctyrleta gymnazia 3.dil. Olomouc 2005 (Marecek A., Honza J. Chemistry for High
School 3.part. Olomouc 2005)
[3] L. S. W. Pelter, A. Amico, N. Gordon, Ch. Martin, D. Sandifer, and M. W. Peter, J. Chem. Edu., 2008, 85 (1), 133
[4] F. Douglass, Taber, Rui Li, M. A. Cory, J. Chem. Edu., 2011, 88 (11), 1580
CnS – La Chimica nella Scuola XXXIV - 3 PROCEEDINGS ICCE-ECRICE August 2012
OH
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Book
Practitioners in informal science settings--museums, after-school programs, science and technology centers, media enterprises, libraries, aquariums, zoos, and botanical gardens--are interested in finding out what learning looks like, how to measure it, and what they can do to ensure that people of all ages, from different backgrounds and cultures, have a positive learning experience. Surrounded by Science: Learning Science in Informal Environments, is designed to make that task easier. Based on the National Research Council study, Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits, this book is a tool that provides case studies, illustrative examples, and probing questions for practitioners. In short, this book makes valuable research accessible to those working in informal science: educators, museum professionals, university faculty, youth leaders, media specialists, publishers, broadcast journalists, and many others. © 2010 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Chapter
Representations and expressed models abound in science classrooms and vary widely on multiple dimensions. In order to encourage systematic research and principled curriculum development, we have developed a typology for categorising diverse kinds of representations and models. This chapter articulates an operational typology of models based on the attributes and modes of representations employed. It emerged from analysis of a range of models of the heart and the lunar eclipse. We conclude with a discussion of the utility of this typology for supporting research in model-based teaching and learning and its link to the study of the parts of models found in Chapter 6.
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