Tram Nguyen Pham

STAO Project Innovation

Secondary B 2017 Cohort



“Infusing global competencies & design thinking in SCH4U Thermochemistry strand”



In chemistry grade 12, a task that summarizes learning is often placed at the end of the unit to summarize and demonstrate learning. This time I did it differently in the Thermochemistry strand: flipping the order of inquiry and put the unit task at the forefront per Garfield Gini-Newman’s suggestion.

Students were asked to design an actual hot or cold pack that took into account consumers’ preferences. The students had no background about this at the beginning, but as I uncovered the curriculum of this unit, the students revisited their task regularly, modifying their previous plans with new information.  I used a Thoughtbook template to assist students in this iterative design process.

Students used Lab Quest to quantify the amount of heat evolved or absorbed by their hot/cold pack prototype. Prior to being able to independently use a Lab Quest, students were scaffolded in a guided lab in which they heated copper and used calorimetry to approximate the temperature of a Bunsen burner. Subsequently, they conducted a more open inquiry in which the heat of neutralization is determined.

Students eventually got to the design stage where they were autonomous in several aspects, including:

  • Conducting consumer preferences with interviews, surveys
  • Selecting chemicals for their commercial products
  • Designing their procedure and product’s appearance
  • Using technology to quantify the amount of heat produced/absorbed by their products
  • Using web 2.0 tools to produce an ad/informercial/pitch that accompanied their final hot/cold pack product.

Students were essentially running their own start-up, making decisions in teams and marketing and defending their products.

This approach of doing inquiry allows students to foster many global competencies, namely collaboration, creativity & entrepreneurship. The students were engaged and so was I. I took a step back literally to the sidelines and let the students drive their inquiry.  I truly felt like a facilitator in their learning process; no longer the one who always took the central stage. The freedom to explore reaps a big reward for them.  

Innovation means different things to different teachers. This project is innovative to me personally because I took the chance to explore inquiry in a novel way that I haven't done before. I feel the path to innovation is paved with many incremental changes that we teachers embrace. 

Big idea addressed with this task:

Energy changes can be described quantitatively.

Expectations addressed:

A1 (A1.1- A1.8, A1.11 –A1.13)

D2 (D2.1-D2.4)


Time allotted from the start to finish: ~ 14 periods

Learning activity explained
Day 1
¨introduce the inquiry-design task
-students were given class time to collaborate initially on the task
-they were to come up with as many questions about this task as possible
¨ introduce students to “My Thermochem Thoughtbook” template
¨“Inquiry task introduced STU” ppt
¨My Thermochem Thoughtbook
Day 2
Day 1 of uncovering the curriculum
¨Types of system: closed, open, isolated
¨Specific heat capacity, exo-, endo- processes
¨1a. Intro Thermochem
Day 3
¨Enthalpy & Enthalpy change
¨Calc. DH from bond dissociation energy
¨Ways to express enthalpy change
¨2a. Enthalpy & enthalpy change
Day 4
¨Formative quiz: Enthalpy review
¨Took up questions from practice questions in lessons
¨Calorimetry flipped classroom (ppt)
¨ 3b. Calorimetry (flipped) & Bunsen burner lab Stuhandout
Day 5
¨Calorimetry & Bunsen burner lab performance date
¨Calculating enthalpy of phase change
¨ 3c. Calorimetry, molar H practice wksheet (as HW)
Day 6
¨  Thermochem quiz 1
¨  Took up calorimetry & Bunsen burner lab
¨  Give class time for grouPS to meet to work on hot/cold pack project. Teams to make use of the Thoughtbook
Day 7
¨  Revisiting phase change calculations (as students have some difficulties
¨ Took up questions from HW/practice
¨ Gave Formal lab- Enthalpy of neutralization in advance for students to prepare for pre-lab preparation and design their own procedure (Materials were given)
¨ 3d. Phase change calc. revisited
¨ 4. Formal lab- Enthalpy Neutralization
Day 8
¨ Spontaneity & Properties of delta H
¨ Collected the designed procedure of Enthalpy of neutralization lab from students to give feedback
¨ Give class time for group to work on hot/cold pack prototype
¨4. Spontaneity & Properties of delta H
Day 9
¨ Enthalpy of neutralization lab performance date
Day 10
¨ Standard states
¨ Hess’ law
¨ DH of formation
¨ Give class time for independent practice
¨ 5. Standard states, Hess’ law, deltaH formation
Day 11
¨ Final meeting time for hot/cold project
¨ Buffer date
Day 12
¨ Hot/cold pack product Expo day (Carousel style)