New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

Silicon-based Functional Materials - A Practical Course Design connecting School and School Laboratories

Elena von Hoff, Georg-August-University Göttingen (Germany)

Timm Wilke, Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany)


In our day to day lives we encounter several silicon-based materials, ranging from silica nanoparticles as drying agents in salt to silicone oils as lubricants as well as silicone baking forms. These functional materials display interesting properties and offer various learning opportunities within the frame of an educational context. Many of these properties, such as the temperature resistance or hydrophobia of silicones, can as easily be linked to students’ everyday lives as to the basic concepts of school chemistry education [1-3].

However, for the successful implementation of suitable experiments into chemistry education a number of challenges need to be overcome: (1) While the chemicals for the synthesis of silica and silicones are cheap and safe, unfortunately they typically are not readily available in schools which often constitutes a significant barrier for educators [4]. (2) Moreover, while the experiments can be easily performed by students, most of them require several hours of reaction time. Taking these challenges and barriers into account, school laboratories may represent a more suitable environment for experiments on silicon-based functional materials. Not only do they have the resources to provide the required equipment and chemicals, in the context of multi-day courses they also offer the ideal time frame for the students to thoroughly become acquainted with these topics.

A promising way to implement silicon-based functional materials into school chemistry education is the cooperation between school and school laboratories. While the experiments are performed at the school laboratory, both preparation and follow-up processes take place at school to promote long-term learning success [5]. In this contribution, we present a proposal for a corresponding course design on silicon-based functional materials, which can be used to either introduce or deepen several aspects of the high school curricula, along with hands-on experiences and initial evaluative results.


[1] Venzmer, J., Alltägliche Phänomene. Grenzflächenchemische Spezialitäten, Chem. Unserer Zeit 42 (2), 2008, pp. 72-79. [2] Krees, S., CHEM2DO - Experimentieren mit Siliconen und Cyclodextrinen PdN-ChidS 61 (8), 2012, pp. 44-45. [3] Wilke, T., Haffer, S., Weinberger, C., Tiemann, M., Wagner, T., Waitz, T., Nanoporous Materials: Synthesis Concepts and Model Experiments for School Chemistry Education, J. Nano Educ. 6 (2), 2014, pp. 117-123. [4] Nonninger, R., Dege, J., Wilke, T., Waitz, T., Nanoscience Education in School Chemistry – Perspectives for Curricular Innovations in Context of an Education for a Sustainable Development in: Global Perspectives of Nanoscience and Engineering Education, edited by K. Winkelmann und B. Bhushan, Springer International Publishing, Cham, 2016, pp. 237-274. [5] Streller, M., The educational effects of pre and post-work in out-of-school laboratories, Dresden, 2015.

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