Qualitative polymer analysis lab through inquiry-based

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Carla Morais
António José Ferreira
José Luís Araújo


The present study had two main objectives: to know the arguments that students present in discussing the use of plastics in our society; and how students engage in scientific-oriented activity plan and implement a protocol to identify qualitatively different polymers present in a bottle and formulate explanations based on evidence. Taking this into account, inquiry-based activity was developed bearing in mind the inclusion of role-playing debate approach and laboratory work. The activity was implemented with 20 students from school year 12, attending Chemistry classes. Data was collected through teacher's observation and students’ answers and records. The students planned and performed the laboratory activity with a considerable degree of autonomy; however, the process of collecting and registering information was not always precise and complete. Despite some difficulties in the identification of the plastic present on the bottle label, perhaps due to some lack of procedural accuracy, the other two polymers present in the bottle were identified. Moreover, students tried to formulate scientific explanations based on experimental evidence. Encouraging pupils’ actions, formulations and questions, and debating them in the classroom, using evidence from the real world to address them, is essential and an ongoing challenge for chemistry learning through inquiry-based approach.

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