Session S55b (Tuesday, 5:15pm, Willaman Gateway)

P598: The role of analogies in teaching chemistry to underrepresented groups

Cathy Lee (College of St. Elizabeth, USA)

Analogies have been shown to be especially helpful in teaching chemistry to groups of students who are traditionally underrepresented as science majors. Often, some quite difficult concepts involving the behavior of atoms and molecules can be more easily understood by comparison to the behavior of things that are more familiar to the students. It also serves as a way to get and keep the students’ attention and to help make chemistry seem less overwhelming for non-science majors.  Diffusion and osmosis can be explained by considering a semi-permeable membrane as analogous to a screen door or a doggie door. Gases and people both behave more ideally under conditions of more space, less pressure and less crowding.  The repulsion of valence shell electron pairs in molecules is not unlike the repulsion experienced by balloons. Analogies related to many of the fundamental concepts of introductory chemistry, physical chemistry, biochemistry and inorganic chemistry will be discussed.


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