Spring 2015

Bridging Macroscopic and Molecular: Teaching and Learning through Experiments

Listed in: Chemistry, as CHEM-191


Sandra Burkett (Section 01)


There is a tremendous gap between the length scale of the molecular world and the macroscopic dimensions of our experience, but macroscopic observation and physical manipulations nonetheless lie at the heart of the experiments that gave rise to atomic theory and modern chemistry. Although sophisticated instrumentation has been developed to “image” atoms and molecules, macroscopic observation in the laboratory remains an essential component of teaching and learning chemistry at the elementary school, secondary school, and undergraduate level. This course focuses on the question of what makes an experiment effective as a tool for understanding and representing an unseeable world. Types of experiments to be discussed include expository, discovery, guided inquiry, and problem-based (open inquiry). Students will evaluate existing experiments and design experiments and demonstrations for a variety of audiences and learning needs, from elementary school students through undergraduates, with emphases on conceptual content, pedagogical style, and safety and environmental considerations. Two 80-minute discussion-based classes and one 3-hour lab per week.

Recommended requisite: CHEM 151 or CHEM 155; students with no college-level chemistry courses should consult with the instructor. Limited to 12 students.  Spring semester. Professor Burkett.

If Overenrolled: preference given to students with laboratory courses beyond CHEM 151/155, then by class year with seniors first


Lab Science Course, Quantitative Reasoning, Science & Math for Non-majors


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015