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ERIC Number: EJ1008269
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Jun
Pages: 7
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 28
ISSN: ISSN-1931-7913
The Trouble with Chemical Energy: Why Understanding Bond Energies Requires an Interdisciplinary Systems Approach
Cooper, Melanie M.; Klymkowsky, Michael W.
CBE - Life Sciences Education, v12 n2 p306-312 Jun 2013
Helping students understand "chemical energy" is notoriously difficult. Many hold inconsistent ideas about what energy is, how and why it changes during the course of a chemical reaction, and how these changes are related to bond energies and reaction dynamics. There are (at least) three major sources for this problem: 1) the way biologists talk about chemical energy (which is also the way we talk about energy in everyday life); 2) the macroscopic approach to energy concepts that is common in physics and physical sciences; and 3) the failure of chemistry courses to explicitly link molecular with macroscopic energy ideas. From a constructivist perspective, it is unlikely that students can, without a coherent understanding of such a central concept, attain a robust and accurate understanding of new concepts. However, changes are on the horizon, guided by the increasing understanding that difficult concepts require coherent, well-designed learning progressions and the new National Research Council Framework for K-12 Science Education. We provide supporting evidence for our assertions and suggestions for an interdisciplinary learning progression designed to better approach the concept of bond energies, a first step in an understanding chemical energy and behavior of reaction systems that is central to biological systems. (Contains 2 figures and 2 footnotes.)
American Society for Cell Biology. 8120 Woodmont Avenue Suite 750, Bethesda, MD 20814-2762. Tel: 301-347-9300; Fax: 301-347-9310; e-mail:; Website:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A