TI-AIE: Building mental models: teaching carbon and its compounds to Class X

What this unit is about

Science is often described as a ‘hard’ subject. By the time students in secondary school approach public examinations, success in science depends on the ability to handle abstract concepts and models as well as being, numerate, literate and able to recall a body of factual knowledge. Teachers help students to improve their understanding by providing structured experiences that help students to develop increasingly sophisticated mental models, moving from concrete to abstract.

Physical models use real objects to represent parts of a system. Mental models are also representations of systems and processes, but are usually more abstract than physical models. They are schematic rather than concrete, and often use diagrams and equations. The Class X textbook chapter, ‘Carbon and its compounds’, introduces students to different ways of representing molecular structures. If students are to become proficient in their understanding of the topic, they need to make effective use of mental models of molecular structures. All models have their strengths and limitations, and students need to be aware of the strengths and limitations of the models that they use.

In this unit the focus will be on helping your students to develop mental models in the context of carbon and its compounds. What you learn about developing mental models will also be applicable to other topics.

What you can learn in this unit