2020 Day 5: 29th May Presentation

Eliciting students’ models of atmospheric pressure through a designed activity

Tripti Bameta1, Arjun Singh2 , Deepa Chari3 & Mashood K K 4
Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, TIFR, Mumbai, India 1, 2 , 3 & 4 ,

The direction of force due to atmospheric pressure is a difficult topic for students to understand. Our study involving 35 high school students point towards the existence of two contrasting mental models of atmospheric pressure underlying their conception of the direction of force due to atmospheric pressure. These mental models, which we call the weight model and the collision model, were revealed as part of an activity to determine atmospheric pressure. Our study shows a predisposition among students to adhere to the weight model. We discuss everyday experiences and textbook presentations as two plausible sources for this predisposition. The activity and associated discussions have shown potential to facilitate student’s transition from the weight model to the collision model.