Enhancing elementary science learning through organic chemistry modeling and visualization

Daniel B. Fried, Pablo P.L. Tinio, Aaron Gubi, Jean P. Gaffney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The scientists of the future will need to begin studying science in great depth, much earlier in life, in order to keep up with the accelerating pace of discovery and technological innovation. For this to be possible, engaging and child-friendly pedagogical approaches need to be developed that leverage the natural enthusiasm of young science learners, as many students lose interest in science well before they encounter the rich subject matter of high school and college. This study provides evidence that a specially-designed chemistry curriculum can allow students 8-11 years old to rapidly learn advanced material while motivating them. The curriculum adhered to a backward design strategy and utilized a visual approach to chemistry learning. It also featured extensive use of hand-held organic chemistry model building and computerized molecular modeling activities. The 5-session study involved 63 students from grades 3-5 from an economically disadvantaged urban school in New Jersey. Despite the technical nature of the program, student motivation for chemistry learning was high, and assessment results showed students’ high-level understanding of the material.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-82
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Science and Mathematics Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2019


  • Elementary
  • Molecular modeling
  • Organic chemistry


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