Abstraction is stripping away the peripherals of a particular reality to get at the essence of its being.
For my abstraction, I chose three representations: two visual and one textual representation of the mole(although the textual representation has visual aspects to it as well). One of the key concepts of the mole is that it is both an incredibly large number and while at the same time, the atom is an incredibly small piece of matter. For figure 1, I started with a very small dot that is hard to see (like an atom) and copied it over and over again until I got a very large number that would be incredibly difficult to count. While it isn't exactly the number that a mole represents, it gets at the essence of what a mole is – a large, uncountable number – and in chemistry we count an incredibly small object – the atom. For figure 2, I contrasted a large circle with a small circle – highlighting the essence of enormity of the number (too big to fit on the paper) and the minuscule nature of what the number is counting (too small to read). For figure 3, I contrast again the large and small principle, but using words that get incredibly small and incredibly large – it forces one to extrapolate what the rest of the sentence would say. Like many abstractions, not all of the picture is obvious at the beginning, but can be inferred and interpreted.
These abstractions hopefully can help students capture the essence of what I'm trying to teach them about the mole and the implications for chemistry. The enormity and the tininess of the mole is an important dichotomy that can't be emphasized enough and hopefully abstracting it down can help students grasp the concept.
Technology Facilitator at Calvary Christian Schools. High School Science Teacher since 2008.
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