CSET Professional Learning

Chemistry Experiences and Experiments for Learning | Purpose & Approach

The ChemEx2 Purpose

Chemistry Experiences and Experiments for Learning (ChemEx2) supports student-centered chemistry instruction that uses hands-on experiences to promote curiosity and the ability to make evidence-based claims.  In ChemEx2, teachers are introduced to multi-faceted chemical phenomena and empowered to create targeted learning experiences that are adapted to their students.  We seek to build a community of reflective practitioners who transform the way chemistry is experienced by students.

The ChemEx2 Approach

ChemEx2 is the result of a collaboration between professors from the Stanford Department of Chemistry, local classroom teachers, and the Stanford Center to Support Excellence in Teaching (CSET).  

ChemEx2 employs a guided-inquiry approach to science learning in which students learn core chemical concepts through engaging with chemical phenomena.  The NGSS define phenomenon as an observable event that students can explain or make sense of using the three dimensions (disciplinary core ideas, scientific practices, and crosscutting concepts).  A ChemEx2 phenomenon may be demonstrated by the teacher or assembled by the students and serves as the basis for development of a particular chemical principle.  

In the ChemEx2 approach, students experience a chemical phenomenon, observe carefully, and ask questions about what they see.  In response to their questions, students are provided with materials and instructional scaffolds so that they can design experiments to develop their understanding of the phenomenon.  Students use the data they collect to generate evidence-based claims, explanations or models.  The full ChemEx2 cycle thus engages students in multiple NGSS practices.     

In the ChemEx2 Summer Institute, teacher leaders model practices such as eliciting student understanding, probing students to push their thinking, and giving students customized feedback on their work.  Participating teachers are given opportunities to observe, analyze, and practice these interactional skills.  Participating teachers also develop skills in curricular sequencing by exploring how phenomena relate to one another how a single phenomenon can be used at multiple points in a year.   

Central to the ChemEx2 philosophy is the idea that teachers should tailor learning experiences to their students.  ChemEx2 has developed a core set of rich phenomena that illustrate a wide range of chemical concepts.  During the ChemEx2 Summer Institute, teachers are supported in the process of selecting a learning purpose for a phenomenon, altering the phenomenon to meet the needs of their students, and developing a classroom-ready product.