11. What are the effects of using and producing different matter types?

electrolysis set up using beakers

“What are the effects of using and producing different matter types?” is a question of consequence evaluation, because chemistry depends on context and affects the human experience. The life cycles of materials, including production, consumption, and disposal, have benefits, costs, and risks in many dimensions. These include social, economic, political, ethical, environmental, and ecological consequences. While the ultimate aim of chemistry is to improve the human condition, the design of chemical processes involves making decisions based on limiting consumption of energy, using renewable resources, and reducing or eliminating production of toxic byproducts. This chemical thinking question is often central to sustainable action work, such as evaluating which refrigerants are better than Freon, or designing a greener battery.

The GoKart Cognitive Interview was developed by the ACCT team (indicated by the star), and the Caffeine Catastrophe formative assessment was designed by a past ACCT cohort member.


The GoKart cognitive interview is a formative assessment that is designed to be a one-on-one conversation between a teacher and a student. It provides insight to the teacher about how the student thinks about relationships between chemical nature and properties, and how the student reasons about consequences. This tool has been tested by teachers with middle school, high school, and undergraduate students.


The Caffeine Catastrophe formative assessment asks students to explain why caffeine consumption can be lethal to one person but not to another. This formative assessment targets benefits-costs-risks thinking by focusing on the relationship between toxicity and chemical quantities with a specific emphasis on lethal dose. In this formative assessment, students will think about the connections between ratios of chemicals in a chemical reaction and toxicity as well as how to conceptualize measurement of chemicals on both molecular and macroscopic levels.