Misconceptions in Chemistry and Physics - Eva Varga

September 3, 2015

In a series of posts this week, I will be sharing 5 Misconceptions in Science and providing lessons and activities to help dispel these conceptual misunderstandings. Today’s post focuses on common misconceptions in chemistry and physics.

Misconceptions in Chemistry @EvaVarga.net

Identifying & Dispelling Misconceptions

The first step in dispelling misconceptions is to identify them and to recognize their sources. To identify misconceptions, homeschool parents and teachers can:

  • use open-ended questions to assess what students know about the topic of a lesson.
  • listen and observe students’ answers
  • use direct questioning to discover the students’ reasoning process

Simply correcting a mistaken impression through discussion,  however, may not work. Instead, provide an opportunity for students to test out their theories. This is not only more convincing but develops their scientific reasoning skills.

  • First, help students to verbalize their understanding and thereby formulate a theory.
  • Secondly, guide them to set up an experiment to test their theory.

By using inquiry to test misconceptions, teachers can also foster respect for people, ideas, and scientific inquiry. Teachers can use misconceptions to provide unique opportunities to practice science process skills and interest students in scientific exploration.

Misconceptions in Chemistry & Physics


Comparing and contrasting physical and chemical changes, students may believe that because physical changes are often reversible, chemical changes are irreversible.

Many chemical reactions are NON-REVERSIBLE CHANGES .You cannot turn a baked cake back into its raw ingredients. Some chemical reactions can be reversed, and re-formed into the original substances. These are REVERSIBLE CHANGES.

A reversible change is a change that can be undone or reversed. Sometimes we also call these physical changes. A reversible change might change how a substance looks or feels (changing the physical appearance), and it is easy to turn it back again, but it doesn’t produce new substances.

For example, to demonstrate a reversible chemical change: Dip a heat-sensitive baby spoon and other objects that might change color into a beaker of hot water. Ask students to record their observations or results.

Students might notice that a baby spoon turned white when it was dipped in hot water and returned to its original color as it cooled. Ask students questions that will help them evaluate the results and draw new conclusions: “Did the baby spoon undergo a reversible chemical change?”

5 Misconceptions in Science & How to Dispel Them @EvaVarga.net

Misconceptions in Science & How to Dispel Them (series introduction)

Misconceptions in Astronomy 

Misconceptions in Geology & Meteorology

Misconceptions in Biology (coming Friday)

You might also be interested in my travel hopscotch,  Discovering Peru, where you’ll have the chance to win a travel guide of choice from DK Publishing.

My post is one of many hopscotch link-ups. Hop over and see what others are sharing.


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