The essence and main feature of the current chemical knowledge rest on the manipulation of microscopic entities - and this is a challenge for chemical educators. Considering that textbooks are important instruments for the spreading of scientific knowledge, for the diffusion of ideologies, and for the actualization of intentions, this project deals with the following research questions: (i) What is the role ascribed to the understanding of chemical phenomena in microscopic scale by undergraduate-level textbook authors? (ii) Which changes occurred in chemistry textbooks during the twentieth century, concerning contents and approaches to the microscopic component of this science? (iii) Is it possible to relate such changes to the desired professional profile of the chemist, taking into account historical, social and economical conditions prevailing in the moment when each textbook was published? In search of possible answers to these questions, the analysis of the iconographic dimension of chemistry textbooks published from the end of the nineteenth century to the beginning of the twenty-first century is proposed. Representations designed to promote the understanding of microscopic phenomena will be specially focused. Considering that a large number of chemistry textbooks were produced in the period, the research will focus on the books that were more extensively used in Brazilian undergraduate courses. A preliminary survey in libraries of the several campi of the University of São Paulo revealed that there are a significant number of publications that can be included in the sample of this research.
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