P65: Incorporating particulate modeling for conceptualization of gas syringe
Thermodynamics has largely been taught the way it was developed historically-from the macroscopic level of observables at the beginning to mathematical formalism at the end with few scaffolds to connect the two representations. This approach favors symbolic over particulate models to describe physical and chemical processes which could lead to fragmented knowledge and alternative perceptions for learners. In this session, we propose a model-based inquiry strategy that provides a needful bridge linking macroscopic observations to mathematical models. The work described here was conducted with upper-level undergraduates and graduate students during an investigation of rapid (pseudo-adiabatic) and slow (isothermal) compression/expansion of an ideal gas contained within a sealed syringe. We sought to qualitatively analyze students’ ability to use particulate-level models and to connect the features of those models to the macroscopic outcomes of the investigation. Implications for elucidating and alleviating student misconceptions in physical chemistry will be discussed.