Students' interdisciplinary reasoning about "high-energy bonds" and ATP Documents

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Students' interdisciplinary reasoning about "high-energy bonds" and ATP 

written by Benjamin W. Dreyfus, Benjamin D. Geller, Vashti Sawtelle, Julia Svoboda, Chandra Turpen, and Edward F. Redish

Students' sometimes contradictory ideas about ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and the nature of chemical bonds have been studied in the biology and chemistry education literatures, but these topics are rarely part of the introductory physics curriculum. We present qualitative data from an introductory physics course for undergraduate biology majors that seeks to build greater interdisciplinary coherence and therefore includes these topics. In these data, students grapple with the apparent contradiction between the energy released when the phosphate bond in ATP is broken and the idea that an energy input is required to break a bond. We see that students' perceptions of how each scientific discipline bounds the system of interest can influence how they justify their reasoning about a topic that crosses disciplines. This has consequences for a vision of interdisciplinary education that respects disciplinary perspectives while bringing them into interaction in ways that demonstrate consistency amongst the perspectives

Published January 24, 2013
Last Modified June 21, 2013