April 1, 2008 (Vol. 28, No. 7)
Strong Points: Wide variety of educational content
Weak Points: Plug-in issues
Back in my day, if we wanted to learn something about chemistry, we had to walk barefoot into the snow 5 miles to school and watch our wild-eyed chemistry teacher illustrate some wild experiment he’d dreamed up (that often involved an explosion at the end). Aye – those were the days. Kids these days have it made – all they have to do is sit down with their fancy laptops and download animations (often user- controlled) of major basic principles of chemistry. One excellent source of these can be found at Tom Greenbowe’s Chemical Education Research Group Simulations site. Here, a wide variety of animations and tutorials can be downloaded and viewed. Categories include solutions, thermochemistry, reactions, kinetics, stoichiometry, electrochemistry, acid/base equilibria, measurement, gas laws, and redox titration. Most of the animations ran on my system, but not all. One suggestion – sites like this should ALWAYS provide links to all the browser plug-ins necessary to view each animation. Otherwise, users are either locked out of using them or must spend a lot of time trying to find the right one.