P615: Thinking small: An inquiry-based curriculum for particulate-level chemistry
In describing changes in matter, students often rely on macroscopic observations based on prior knowledge. While such categorization is effective for their daily lives, it becomes problematic in the detailed study of matter within a traditional chemistry course. Understanding the phases of matter and elements, compounds, and mixtures on the particulate level is a crucial concept for high school students. Most students enter a high school chemistry course with preconceived ideas of this topic. Understanding these preconceived ideas is the first step to addressing any misconceptions. Students must then clearly establish particulate-level concepts of chemical and physical changes in order to effectively understand many chemical concepts. Only when such understandings are clarified can students evaluate the meaning of various macroscopic observations. This presentation will highlight Target Inquiry activities that have been used to help students establish correct particulate conceptions as well as important considerations for implementing appropriate inquiry practice in the chemistry classroom.