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Virtual Chemistry Experiments
David N. Blauch
David N. Blauch
updated in 2012
Web Site/Portal, Downloadable software
Medium, Advanced
Modelling, Experiential learning
Fundamental Chemistry
Upper Secondary School
Virtual Chemistry Experiments include a set of interactive web-based chemistry tutorials concerning the following topics:
1. Atomic Structure (Atomic Orbitals; Hybrid Orbitals)
2. Chemical Analysis (Elemental Analysis; Spectrophotometry)
3. Chemical Bonding (Hybrid Orbitals; Molecular Orbitals; Ligand Field Theory)
4. Chemical Equilibria
5. Chemical Kinetics
6. Coordination Chemistry (Isomerization; Electronic Structure; Ligand Field Theory)
7. Crystal Structure (Structure of Solids; Structure of Ionic Solids; Unit Cells)
8. Gases (Gas Laws; Kinetic Molecular Theory)
9. Phase Changes
10. Thermodynamics (Calorimetry)
In this digital resource, several experiments and apparatus are simulated. Its interactive features allow the user to control a few parameters. According to the author “The guiding concept is to involve the read in making observations and acquiring data, and then using this information to draw conclusions and infer chemical principles.”
These resources were developed by Professor David N. Blauch, from the Davidson College Chemistry Department, USA. They present high pedagogic value but, unfortunately, their use is restricted to English speaking students and teachers. Nevertheless, the author provides documentation for the chemistry applets, so that teachers can adapt and write their own web pages. Another point of strength is the fact that files can be downloaded and installed on local computers.
Instituto Politécnico de Bragança

Comments about this Publication

Your comments are welcome

Date: 2014.11.30

Posted by Mariusz Jarocki (Poland)

Message: Is the teaching resource described useful for you? Why?
The resource is a large portal of chemical knowledge with many, extremely useful applications, prepare to demonstrate a wide spectrum of issues related to teaching chemistry at various levels. As a support to create new lessons the site is a priceless source of information and downloadable sotfware. Gathered information does not cover all issues related to the school programs but it can be used frequently enough to get a profit from the coherent form of presentation, used by the site.

Do you think it can increase students’ interest toward chemistry? Why?
Among other reviewed sites, I found this one as the most influential for students\' interest. The included knowledge is described in very clear and reliable form, the applications demonstrates particular issues and phenomena in very interesting form. The site effectively influences the desire to return and extend students\' knowledge and skills.

Do you think it can help students to understand better and faster? Why?
The site has large pedagogical value and it is hard to add something more. It is the great complementary tool in teaching chemistry.

Do you think it proposes an innovative didactic approach? Why?
The approach used in the material is rather traditional and based on the academic-style of lectures with demonstrations. To make lessons based on the material innovative, we have to do some additional work. But as foundation for it, the site is excellent.

Date: 2013.05.23

Posted by Niki Rapti (Greece)

Message: This is a very useful website, with large pedagogical value. It constitutes a very good tool through which both teachers and students can easily and quickly have a grasp of different chemical phenomena via simulations. It is important to note that the website deals with subjects that are difficult to understand in depth even if one performs some experiment or some other activity. Such demanding subjects, which usually create a lot of difficulties to the students are “the gas laws”, “orbitals”, “crystals”, “Beer’s Law (spectrophotometry)”.
This teaching resource provides very good descriptions of the phenomena and at the same time carefully designed visualization and a detailed guide for each simulation activity. In this way, one is given the possibility for quick and easy practice or lab preparation, either at school or at home.
Many students and teachers offer face difficulty in the use of the Java 3D software which needs to be overcome. In addition, the use of the English text requires translation for the students. However, this issue is facilitated by the fact that the material allows to “copy and edit” what needs to be translated each time.

Date: 2013.02.02

Posted by Jana Višňovská (Slovakia)

Message: This is a very interesting web page which is a very good tool and help for teachers to help them carry out various types of 3D simulations which give to student theoretical basis and which on the other side give them detailed instructions for implementation of simulation in laboratory. According to this, students ca easily and without any problems understand particular phenomenom and also results of experiment, eg. In subject of physical chemistry. This page is also a good help as an introduction to laboratory exercises when it is important to understant the whole context of an issue. Students have to be aware of the fact that laboratory work starts before entering the laboratory. Teachers have to assure themselves that students understand aims of exercises and their proccess before experiments. They have to explain to students the whole course of experiments, searching for information and to plan an sctivity in laboratory (to identify materials, agents, devices, measurements and etc.) Experimental activities in this digital format have a significant value and are very important online tool for teachers and students. There can be a problem with software equipment at Slovakia because not every school has java animations and 3D software. It is great that each module can be downloaded and each teacher can edit it according to his and students’needs.

Date: 2013.01.03

Posted by Laurent Gruber (Belgium)

Message: This resource is very interesting; it presents many aspects of chemistry. I particularly like the possibility to download and edit it. Indeed the licence allows using the resources provided no to do so for commercial purposes, which makes it possible to use during lessons. However the resources will need to be adapted to be used in a teaching context. Indeed they are presented in a very theoretical way and do not allow the building of knowledge advocated by current teaching trends.
Several Java animations, those in 3D, do not work on my computer, probably due the JVM version. The tests were carried out, according to the FAQ, on outdated version of the software, an update is therefore probably necessary but feasible considering the opening of resources.
To sum up, the resource is very interesting but is not necessarily usable without some adaptation to include it in a lesson sequence.

Date: 2012.12.04

Posted by Lília Sofia Afonso Pires (Portugal)

Message: Laboratorial work is becoming essential in science curricula, being an integral part of the discipline and occupying a place of primacy in its teaching. To achieve laboratorial activities objectives it is necessary for students to know what they look for, what to anticipate in terms of results, and how to run experiments and establish conclusions. Before start any laboratorial activity it is essential to assure that students have understood the context of the problem to be solved. Students must be conscious that laboratorial work begins before entering the laboratory. Teachers must assure that, before starting the activity, students have understood the fundamental objectives of its execution. For that, teachers must conjunctly with students, discuss preliminary ideas on the subject, search for information and planning the activity (identify materials, reagents, equipment, measurements to take, etc.).
Experimental activities in digital format, used previously and/or after the laboratorial activities may be in fact an added value. This resource is presented as an online tool that could be used by teachers and students, both at home and school. The use of virtual tools does not avoid the need of the experimental activity itself, they could be used to support these experimental activities and to surpass the inexistence of the required equipment/material.

Date: 2012.09.30

Posted by Anastasia Mylona (Greece)

Message: This site Virtual Chemistry Experiments by David Blauch is a really interesting teacher tool approaching several subjects of fundamental and physical chemistry. It can be used in class and it is designed in a way that on the one hand the teacher can have well organized the needed information relevant to the applet – simulation, on the other the student gets a brief theoretical background as well as detailed instructions on the applet performance. The applets are easy to run and parameters can be clearly distinguished from each other so that the student understands the phenomenon or the experimental results with no difficulty.
The topics do not cover a wide range of chemistry but is adequate and helps a lot to the stimulation of interest on the area of molecular and physical chemistry : a world that young students cannot easily go through.
I believe these applets are very well set up and they constitute a strong tool in teaching chemistry. Of course, they cannot replace lab experiments but should be used as a very good complementary tool.

National Reports on successful experiences to promote lifelong learning for chemistry The national reports on chemistry successful experiences to promote lifelong learning for chemistry are now available on the related section of the project portal. The reports presents examples of successful experiences in the partner countries and the results of testing of ICT resources with science teachers.