Session 2 at a glance

Session 2, a 3 hour session, extends the formative assessment experiences in session 1a and offers participants an opportunity to engage in an innovative lab formative assessment activity. Teachers will continue to build a collaborative professional learning community with a connecting activity, thinking like a student, and a chemical thinking discussion. The session requires a lab classroom for teachers to experience the Pringle design challenge. Time will be spent exploring the Formative Assessment Enactment model more deeply. Session 2  focuses on Chemical Control and touches on three of the six overarching ACCT objectives. A brief overview of the lab activity, the exploding Pringles can design challenge, can be viewed below

Formative assessment with a bang!

A description of the exploding Pringles can design challenge, a unique laboratory-based formative assessment activity.

Session objectives:

In this 2nd session, teachers will:

  • Experience a Chemistry Lab formative assessment
  • Continue to notice how students use chemistry knowledge to make sense of chemical problems 
  • Explore how a formative assessment reveals student thinking and accessibility for all learners

 Participant Agenda:

  1. Presentation: Introduction and Overview
  2. Lab Activity: Pringles Design Challenge (See the Design Challenge Investigation Video and the Design Challenge Explosion Video below)
  3. Debrief Discussion: Design features of formative assessment
  4. Discussion: Formative Assessment Enactment Model and STEM for ALL Showcase Video: Formative Assessment with a Bang (shown above)
  5. Exit ticket & homework

Pringles 3 FA Investigation

Design Challenge Investigation Video


Pringles 5 FA Challenge Video

Design Challenge Explosion Video




Full Download (zipped folder)

Lab Materials 
Ring stands
Methane gas
Empty Pringle cans
Grill lighters
Decibel meter
Meter sticks

ACCT Program Components focused on in this session

Chemical Thinking thread: Chemical control  


Formative Assessment Enactment Model: Noticing and interpreting


Teacher dilemmas: Pedagogical

Tips for the facilitator 

The Pringles Design Challenge formative assessment used in this session focuses on chemical control. Teachers should walk away with increased understanding that chemical control thinking is visible in how students consider which variables to control (and which variables they don’t consider), and what are the ways they think those variables affect the reaction (what are the models of chemical reactions that they are relying on). 

In addition to continuing the major goal from Session 1A which was to help teachers to recognize value in the resources students bring to learning chemistry, this session adds an additional focus on Formative Assessment. Teachers are asked to consider the importance of “purpose” of a formative assessment as well as noticing and interpreting student thinking. 

For many teachers, this may be their first exposure to an empirical investigation that is not done in a verification spirit. Give teachers space to talk about how open-ended FAs differ from closed-ended, and what are the affordances and challenges of doing open-ended FA. A major challenge that teachers bring up is that the open-endedness gives them less control over making sure their students gain specific content understanding. Other teachers may feel uncomfortable with not being able to predict all the paths that students will follow, and that all students will not be on the same path at the same time. Try to open the door for the teachers to start recognizing the value in learning how their students are thinking and applying their chemical knowledge, as it gives teachers information they can use to help students build from resources they already have.

After the completion of Session1, teachers will develop an increased understanding about how students make sense of chemical control as part of  the  Chemical thinking model. When analyzing student work, their thinking becomes visible in two ways: 1) how they have considered which variables to control and which variables they don’t consider; and 2) the ways that they think those variables affect the reaction and the models of chemical reactions they choose to use.

Be sure to create classroom size posters of the three components (Chemical Thinking, Formative Assessment Enactment,Teaching Dilemmas) and display them for all to see to provide visual access for all participants as they work. It allows participants to be “keepers of the knowledge.” They serve to link learning from session to session and encourage the integration of these models into the dialogue of each session.