Lower the Energy of Activation with Concept Mapping

By Kathy Reeves
07 July, 2016


Have you ever taught ATP to a class of high school Biology students?  If the answer is yes, then you have shared my pain! It can be incredibly difficult to teach the unobservable components of a complicated and unobservable process.  Visual learning to the rescue!

By now, you know that Scientific Minds frequently uses text and visual imagery in our Science Starters and Science Sidekicks.  You will find some of our free, printable concept maps for classroom use in the previous posts Keep Calm and Teach with Graphic Organizers and Can Sketchnoting be the Next Step in Visual Learning.

I was paddling around in my kayak the other day (where I do some of my best thinking AND nonthinking), when it occurred to me that graphic organizers can be compared to enzymes. 

Our students have so much information to process, and this processing requires loads of energy.  Enter the enzyme metaphor.  Enzymes lower the amount of energy required for a reaction to take place. We call this the "activation energy" or "energy of activation".

Just as enzymes lower the activation energy, concept maps can reduce the demands of information processing.  Visually organizing information makes it easier to understand, thus reducing the amount of energy required for learning to take place.


Download this free concept map for teaching ATP and see if you agree that it lowers the energy of activation for learning.  In addition, you can go to www.scientificminds.com and sign up for a free Biology trial. You will have access to several of the Biology lessons, including the lesson on ATP, for 7 days.

What are your thoughts about using concept maps to lower the energy of activation?

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