Lifelong Learning Programme

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
This material reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein

Also available in:


Teaching Resources

Homepage > Teaching Resources > Teaching Resources Form


Découverte de la réaction chimique (Discovering the chemical reaction)
Divna Brajkovic
6th of March 2013
Online course
Modelling, Experiential learning
Fundamental Chemistry
Lower Secondary School
This learning sequence called “Discovering the chemical reaction” favours the experimental and systemic approach of the chemical reaction (as advised by Mr Piecynsky, educational councellor). Therefore, the activities (laboratory, observations of phenomena, modelling) are organised so as to facilitate a progressive gradation of abstraction levels (from the macroscopic to the microscopic levels).
The interactive whiteboard (IWB) is used as an open and interactive written support all along the sequence. The varied ICT resources integrated on this support makes the modelling of the phenomena, and thus transition to abstraction, easier.

o Using the interactive whiteboard
o Notions of atoms and molecules
o Notions of ions
o Knowledge of chemical symbols
o Understanding chemical formulas
o Notions of valence
o Security signs


Word documents:
o Framework of the sequence: the document contains:
- References to the official programme: knowledge and skills to acquire
- Meaning of the logos used in the paperboards (IWB),
- A table listing, grouped in activities, the main aims, a suggestion of process (summary), the necessary material and ICT resources used on the IWB (films, animations, modelling).
- The bibliography
o The documents for pupils called “Discovering the chemical reaction”.
o Tool sheet: “How to use the animation pHEt” “Building a molecule” (appendix to the tool sheet “How to model molecules? (IWB) “)
o Tasks (integration situation for evaluation) called: “Science journalist”

Paperboards (IWB):
The sequence is divided in 7 paperboards:
1) Map of the sequence
2) 1. Situation scenario 2. How to define a chemical reaction?
3) 3. Searching for chemical phenomena
4) 4. Is mass conserved during a chemical phenomenon?
5) 5. How to display a chemical reaction?
6) 6. Exercises
7) Tool sheet: how to model molecules?

Tasks description and objectives:
The objectives are targeted for each activity in the framework document of the sequence. They are listed below for each paperboard (title in bold and framed) according to the mission proposed to students.
1. Situation scenario and 2. How to define a chemical reaction?
Situation scenario: watching a film: a “magician” makes magnesium “disappear” in an unknown liquid!
o Ask oneself questions
Mission 1: Reproduce the magician’s “trick”
o Imagine an experimental procedure based on available tools and material
o Carry out the experiment, respecting the security rules
o Analyse the results
o Write a report
Mission 2: Explain the “trick”
o Build models of molecules with the help of molecular models (see Tool sheet)
o Make hypotheses on the molecules obtained at the end of the phenomenon
o Imagine an experimental procedure to check the hypotheses
o Model a chemical phenomenon with the help of molecular models and the “chemical reaction” box
o Translate the modelling in chemical equation
o Infer a temporary definition of the chemical reaction
3. Searching for chemical phenomena
Mission 3:
Among the following phenomena (7), spot the chemical reactions.
o Observe a phenomenon
o Describe one’s observations
o Observe a flash animation in order to model or explain what happens at the microscopic level
o Define a chemical phenomenon and a physical phenomenon
o Identify a chemical/physical phenomenon at the macroscopic and microscopic level

4. Is mass conserved during a chemical phenomenon?
Mission 4: Check the law of conservation of mass
o Experiment following an operating mode and respecting security rules
o Analyse the results
o Write a report
o Imagine a device to check the law of preservation of mass in an enclosed space.

Mission 5: Check the law of preservation of mass in an enclosed space for the magician’s reaction!
o Experiment following an operating mode and respecting security rules
o Analyse the results and compare two experimental devices

5. How to display a chemical reaction?

o Define a chemical equation at the macroscopic and microscopic levels
o Write, read and balance a chemical equation

6. Exercises

The exercises proposed are meant to practise knowledge and skills acquired all along the sequence.

7. Tool sheet: how to model molecules?

At the end of the sequence, an evaluation is proposed in the form of a task (called: “science journalist”)

With this integration situation the skills of two families of tasks (FT1 and FT2) are assessed.
(FT1: describe and explain a phenomenon or the working of an object, predict the evolution of a phenomenon)
FT2: Carry out an experimental approach)

How to use it in class?

The description of the sequence activities is given in a Word document: “Framework of the sequence) (« canevas de la séquence »). The sequence on IWB proposes many activities that can be used by the teacher following various procedures. Therefore, the timing is not mentioned. Indeed, the activities organisation, in groups or individually, can be adapted according to the number of students in the class, the available (laboratory, computer) material... For instance, the filmed experiments can be made by students (apart from mercury (II) oxide decomposition!). However, those films are important during the sharing phase, for screen captures, in order to identify different moments of the phenomenon being studied. Moreover, those films can be used by the student catching up at home and by the teacher during evaluations.
Please provide information on:

• The points of strength

One of the strong points of this pedagogic sequence is the diversity of the tool provided to the teacher, who can build a pedagogic scenario according to the work context (students’ section and profile, available material…).
These tools really enable to vary visual supports to help understanding dynamic phenomena observed and/or carried out. The student can act on films, animations to capture and analyse images that correspond to important moments of certain phenomena.
Moreover, the modelling, an important step of the scientific approach, is highly exploited through various approaches: atom and molecule modelling with the help of the IWB, flash animations, a pHEt animation and more traditional models (molecular models, petticoats and toothpicks…). This diversity of supports enables to reach various intelligence types and thus to foster the learning of complex phenomena. Transition through traditional modelling indeed enables students to concretely handle objects representing atoms and thus to build representations.

• The points of weakness

Inappropriate use of the IWB should be avoided, such as using the sequence in a linear way without allowing the student to use handle it, model, build concepts…The IWB must remain an open and interactive written support but it cannot replace real experiments and modelling.
Cette séquence a été testée en partie sur le terrain mais elle devrait faire l’objet d’autres expérimentations afin d’être analysée et améliorée a posteriori.

• Scientific reliability

Modelling and flash animations are strongly simplified since this sequence is aimed at third year students (13 - 14). However, this modelling is satisfying, considering the students’ abstraction level and the aims. The final objective is to master the concept of chemical reaction in a qualitative and quantitative way according to the systemic approach, which is according to three levels (macroscopic, microscopic and symbolic) according to the moment (before, during and after the chemical phenomenon).
Students do not know yet the phenomena of a compound dissolution in water and the notion of electrolyte. Therefore, the phenomena of compound dissociation and ionisation in aqueous solution have not been taken into account.

• Pedagogic value

At the pedagogic level, this resource is innovative for its integration of various tools and resources (laboratories, IWB, animations, classic and computerised modelling…). Moreover, the systemic approach makes it possible to move from the macroscopic to the microscopic level, in order to help understand complex chemical phenomena.

ICT tools have many pedagogic assets.
The IWB is a common space for writing and disseminating comments: pictures, diagrams, videos, animations, modelling…
Indeed, it is a good writing support that integrates inputs from the students to the teacher’s scenario. Preparing this support beforehand, the teacher will gain time during the lesson and will be more available for the class.
Moreover, this support has interesting filing possibilities to repeat activities that have already been done and can be used for remediation.
The rich and varied documents integrated in the IWB can easily be used to observe and analyse dynamic phenomena. This exploitation can take several forms: direct annotations, screen capture, modelling…
The IWB also enables to manage the alternation between individual and collective activities.

The teacher must be careful to use these ICT resources TICE wittingly in order to build knowledge with students without stunting the lesson’s progress.
HELMo Ste Croix - Inforef

Comments about this Publication

Your comments are welcome

Date: 2013.05.30

Posted by Simonne Liégeois (Institut Providence Herve) (Belgium)

Message: Is the teaching resource described useful for you?
Flash animations of the chemical reactions are striking to view what a chemical reaction is. This resource is complete and modular: each teacher can use the most useful part for their students (according to the level of the class, the experimental material available,… )

Do you think it can increase the students’ interest toward chemistry?
The passage to the symbolic writing of the reaction (balanced equation) is explained for the student. It is not just a mathematic balance exercise. It really translates the reaction to the student.
When the student has tested it (laboratory), there is the “visualization” of the microscopic interpretation. I could notice curiosity in the student. He was really wondering and enthusiastic.

Do you think it can help the students to understand better and faster?
The chemical reaction is not “magic” anymore but a transformation of the matter, a rearrangement of the atoms in order to create new molecules.
The utilization of the software to balance the equations is a very relevant complement to the written exercises done in class.

Do you think it proposes an innovative didactical approach?
•The systematic approach (macroscopic -> microscopic -> symbolic)
•The approach of the chemical reaction:
-By “hands” (experiment, manipulate the molecular models and break the molecules in order
to create new one )
-By “eyes”: “flash” animation
The software shows the molecular models simultaneously with the balancing.

National Reports on successful experiences to promote lifelong learning for chemistry The national reports on chemistry successful experiences to promote lifelong learning for chemistry are now available on the related section of the project portal. The reports presents examples of successful experiences in the partner countries and the results of testing of ICT resources with science teachers.