Why this approach is important
The study of carbon compounds is something that many students find challenging. There is a lot of new terminology to learn, and success depends on the ability to relate the properties of compounds to their molecular structure. Students have to retain and manipulate mental models to represent chemical reactions and they have to think about the molecular structure of the reactants.
As in the rest of science, when students learn about carbon and its compounds they need to start from concrete experiences and prior learning. They need to be supported in developing increasingly abstract approaches – the activities and case studies in this unit will you provide that support. Initially, you might show your students some three-dimensional molecular models, but they will still have to make the connection between real three-dimensional molecular structures and two-dimensional diagrams that represent the same structure. Students have to learn the conventions of these diagrams but also have to remember what is not shown by the diagrams but is still relevant to the chemistry of the situation.