Hot, hot, hot

clear glass cup half full of milk & two chili peppers next to it

This formative assessment was designed to target students’ thinking around the structure-property relationships in an accessible, real-world context. This is done through targeting noncovalent interactions. The understanding of this topic is critical for students’ reasoning about observable properties of matter.

Figure 1: Hot, hot, hot formative assessment prompts


The hot, hot, hot formative assessment is presented to students in two parts using  these prompts with each part providing the student with more information with which to reason (see figure 1). The students are presented with the hot, hot hot scenario where they need to help their friend relieve their burning mouth after eating spicy food. The student is presented with various drink options to give to their friend. In the second part the students are given further information about the structure of capsaicin (the molecule responsible for making food spicy) and the structures of the main ingredients in each of the drinks. The students can use this information to further explain their original choice or make a change based on the new information.  This formative assessment was tested with 11th and 12th graders. This FA was done in one of the most diverse high schools in Massachusetts. This FA was given to students are they were preparing to take the AP chemistry exam. Earlier in the year the students had learned about interparticle attractions.

Teaching reflections

The openness of question 1 worked well; students shared their chemical thinking and felt comfortable accessing the formative assessment. Hand drawing the structures in Part 2 of the assessment should make it easier for students to connect submicroscopic forces with macroscopic observations. In future follow up activities, I plan to introduce specific content relating to noncovalent interactions between particles. 

Remote learning

The formative assessment was delivered as a Google form. Given the remote learning environment, students were unmonitored during the administration of the formative assessment.

Examples of student work