Fall 2020


Capstone Project

Degree Name



Trish Harvey

Content Expert

Tila Hidalgo


Most general chemistry curricula use electron arrangement for explaining the majority of concepts and phenomena in the course. This is due in large part to General Chemistry , a book by Nobel laureate Linus Pauling published in the 1940’s to support university level students with chemistry concepts. However, knowledge of the electron was absent historically for the discovery and initial progress of those concepts. In fact, the use of this sophisticated theory to explain those more basic concepts causes students to become separated from understanding the scientific process. This process is required to discover chemical concepts, and is aided by the use of spatial models and symbolic representation. According to research, prior knowledge, and misconceptions also play a large role in science education. This project is an attempt at presenting students a sequence of concepts that provide the theories and questions which historically allowed scientists to make their discoveries. In addition to the sequence and question sets, this project also provides spatial models and symbolic relationships, as well as explicit laboratory experiences to aid in the discovery of these concepts. The four units in focus for this project are: the identification of matter, atomic theory, stoichiometry and enthalpy. This is the historical order of these concepts as they were developed by LaVoisier, Dalton and Joule. One unique outcome of this project is the development of a new set of guidelines for creating a science curriculum that is based on shared misconceptions between students and scientists. Another outcome is the acceptance of multiple pathways for learning, the result of which means there is no correct sequence for each student. Lastly, and most importantly, science learning is not governed by infallible theories, but by constant trial and error that must be experienced by students. This project has helped me to understand introductory chemistry curriculum at a deeper level, and has the potential to help other teachers to step away from the storyline of atomic structure and into a more organic conceptual curriculum.








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