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Apr 01 - Mar 24, 2015
3:00 PM - 4:00 PM
1400 BPS
Academic Work Skills and Responsibilities, Collaboration for research/scholarship and publication

Understanding energy across the disciplines

Most discipline-based education researchers agree that the concept of energy is extraordinarily difficult for students. This problem is exacerbated by the differing ways that the disciplines of physics, chemistry and biology treat energy topics, leading not only to confusion, but often to long lasting and highly resistant non-scientific ideas. A case in point the energy changes that arise from chemical reactions – which is crucial to a robust understanding of molecular level biological processes. 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. However there are promising approaches to the development of cross-disciplinary understanding of energy concepts. In this presentation I will describe our progress on the development of an evidence-based approach to understanding for energy transfers and transformations at the molecular level. In addition I would like to start a conversation about how we might collaborate across the disciplines to provide students with a more coherent approach to understanding energy.