Venn and the Art of Categorisation

A very long time ago, in a school far, far away (well, a fair way along the A27), I did a TeachMeet presentation on using Venn diagrams and another categorisation exercise. The rough transcript is here, but I’ve just found this list of things in KS3 and the GCSE specifications, that I meant to post as a follow up.

The Durrington High School TeachMeet was a fair while ago so some things have moved on a bit. For example, Oliver Caviglioli and a variety of people involved in #CogSciSci (for example Pritesh Raichura) have made dual coding much more prominent an idea in science teaching than it was back then.

Anyway – here is a list of places where I think a Venn diagram might be useful in science teaching because of the need to distinguish related concepts. In some cases there might be as few as three points to go on the diagram, others will have many.

KS3 Biology

  • Meiosis and mitosis
  • Plant and animal cells
  • Diffusion and osmosis
  • Photosynthesis and respiration
  • Gamete and zygote
  • Aerobic and anaerobic
  • Food web and food chain
  • Inter- and intra- species variation
  • Chromosomes and genes

KS3 Chemistry

  • Atoms and molecules
  • Elements and compounds
  • Compounds and mixtures
  • Physical and chemical changes
  • Dissolving and melting
  • Filtration and distillation (or other separation techniques, I guess)
  • Metal reactions with acids compared to metal reactions with water
  • Exothermic and endothermic reactions
  • Groups and Periods on the Periodic Table
  • Metals and non-metals
  • Contrasting materials e.g. polymers and ceramics
  • Acid rain and climate change

KS3 Physics

  • Pressure in fluids and between solids
  • E-M waves and waves in matter
  • Transverse and longitudinal waves
  • Diffuse scattering and specular reflection
  • Reflection and refraction
  • Series and parallel circuits
  • Weight and mass

GCSE Biology

  • Prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells
  • Red and white blood cells
  • Xylem and phloem
  • Transpiration and translocation
  • Viruses and bacteria
  • Pathogen and microbe
  • Communicable and non-communicable diseases
  • Sensory and motor neurones
  • Nervous and endocrine systems
  • Type I and type II diabetes
  • Genes and chromosomes
  • Homozygous and heterozygous
  • Genotype and phenotype
  • Gene and genome
  • Selective breeding and genetic engineering

GCSE Chemistry

  • Protons, neutrons and electrons
  • Different combinations of the nature and arrangement of chemical bonds in ionic compounds, simple molecules, giant covalent structures, polymers and metals
  • Different combinations of diamond, graphite, fullerenes and graphene
  • Different combinations of oxygen, hydrogen, carbon dioxide and chlorine
  • Weak and strong acids
  • Dilute and weak
  • Concentrated and strong
  • Alkanes and alkenes
  • Different combinations of alkanes, alkenes, alcohols and carboxylic acids
  • Addition and condensation polymerisation
  • Compare the industrial production of fertilisers with laboratory synthesis of the same products

GCSE Physics

  • Energy in a kinetic and gravitational store
  • Renewable and non-renewable energy resources
  • Vectors and scalars
  • Ripples and sound waves
  • Convex and concave lenses
  • Specific heat capacity and specific latent heat
  • Plum pudding and Rutherford atomic models
  • Alpha, beta, and gamma ionising radiation
  • Contamination and irradiation
  • Fission and fusion
  • Significant figures and decimal places
  • Reproducible and repeatable
  • Random uncertainty and systematic error
  • Dependent, independent and control variables
  • Science and technology
  • Theory and hypothesis


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