Characterising Structure-Property Reasoning within a Chemical Design Challenge: Green Bubble Soap


  • Sebastiaan Vincent Petrus de Lavoir Delft University of Technology
  • Marie-Jetta den Otter Delft University of Technology
  • Marc de Vries Delft University of Technology
  • Erik Barendsen Radboud University, Nijmegen / Open University, The Netherlands


Design-based Learning, chemistry, structure-property reasoning, secondary education


Where design seems to merge easily with physics or technology education, it does not seem to take place much in secondary chemistry education. Design is one of the crosscutting concepts between the different STEM subjects, (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and is therefore included in curricula and standards in many countries. Structure-function reasoning is an important design skill. In a chemical context it shows similarities with structure-property reasoning (SPR). This SPR is a common practice for expert chemists but difficult to learn for secondary students. Given the similarities, chemical design activities might be a way to enhance students’ SPR. Moreover, stimulating SPR might open a way to expand the role of chemistry in integrated STEM education. We describe an explorative study in which the design of bubble soap is used as a context to promote students’ SPR. Data was collected in the form of audio recordings of student conversations within the design team, student-teacher conversations and design drawings on worksheets. Qualitative analysis, using the perspective for SPR as a framework, revealed that identified SPR was expressed in three ways: as a link between structural features and substances, as a link between the term ‘molecule’ and property and as a link between molecular structures and properties of a substance. Furthermore, analysis showed that SPR was only found during evaluation, discussion and ideation stages of the design process. The results indicate that this chemical design project can be used to stimulate students’ SPR and that SPR can be a way to integrate design practices more in chemistry classrooms.

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How to Cite

de Lavoir, S. V. P., den Otter, M.-J., de Vries, M., & Barendsen, E. (2023). Characterising Structure-Property Reasoning within a Chemical Design Challenge: Green Bubble Soap. The 40th International Pupils’ Attitudes Towards Technology Conference Proceedings 2023, 1(October). Retrieved from