J. Chamizo

Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (MEXICO)
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have so far had little impact in the Historical Teaching of Atomic and Molecular Structure with the exception of graphs of orbitals, electron densities and contours (Chamizo & Garritz 2014). The PhET project (Physics Education Technology) was designed to help students grasp fundamental scientific principles. To date, over 130 simulations in several sciences have been used more than 75 million times a year by students worldwide ( Some of the designed computer simulations have been devoted to atomic and molecular structure from historical experiments, but important as this material is the failure to address historical context and provide historical references has made this approach so far weak.

Heuristic diagrams (HD) are graphic organizers. These tools represent thinking processes; they can be regarded as a ‘cartography of cognition’ that makes learning visible (Trowbridge, 1998). Its main feature is the possibility it entails for relating conceptual frameworks, research questions and research outcomes. HD incorporates S. Toulmin (1972) philosophical approach where he recognizes the complexity inherent to concepts through its historical-social interactions. HD can be used as a tool to develop research (in teaching history, Chamizo, 2012; or as a tool to assess teacher’s research Chamizo, 2013) because it helps identifying all the elements of an specific investigation.

The PhET computer simulations and the HD were used with teachers in a 16 week Intermediate General Chemistry Course in a Master degree in the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). PhET computer simulations of fundamental experiments in atomic and molecular structure were performed (for example Photoelectric effect, Davisson-Germer or Stern-Gerlach experiments). The Appendix of this article indicates the instructions to fill in the HD, taking into account that it should not occupy more than one page. Every teacher produced two HD related with every PhET computer simulation. The rubric for self-assessment was constructed through a discussion with teachers-students with the aim of not only assessing the HD but also to serve as a guide for learning. The results of this process indicate a greater and deeper understanding of the experiments by teachers. Besides, the possibility to contextualize these experiments historically through the HD, allows them to recognize their value not only in the history of science but also as an educational resource.

[1] Chamizo J.A. and Garritz A. (2014). “Historical Teaching of Atomic and Molecular Structure” in Matthews M. (ed) International Handbook of Research in History Philosophy and Science Teaching, Springer, Dordrecht.
[2] Chamizo J.A. and García-Franco A. (2013). Heuristic Diagrams as a tool to formatively assess teachers’ research, Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 19, 135-149.
[3] Chamizo J.A. (2012). Heuristic Diagrams as a Tool to Teach History of Science, Science & Education, 21, 745-762.
[4] Toulmin, S. (1972). Human Understanding (Princeton, Princeton University Press).
[5] Trowbridge, J.E. & Wandersee, J.H. (1998). Theory-Driven Graphic Organizers in:Mintzes, JJ. Wandersee, J.H. and Novak J.D. (eds) Teaching Science for Understanding (San Diego, Academic Press).