Computer animations for active learning of chemical concepts
Over the past few decades teaching of chemistry, and physical chemistry in particular, has changed to a 'bottom up' approach. That is, students learn atomic structure and interactions before using this knowledge to understand macroscopic (observable) chemical properties. It is extremely difficult to obtain atom-level visualization from traditional (wet) experiments, and computer animations can be used to explicitly view atomic dynamics, and how changes in variables such as temperature or atomic mass affects atomic motion.
Physical chemistry students at the University of Borås have used Simchemistry, which can be downloaded free of charge, together with the accompanying tutorials to gain deeper understanding of the six chemical concepts that are treated by these tutorials. Evaluation of this passive use of Simchemistry revealed that the students found the program pedagogical and easy to download and use. A pdf version of the evaluation is found here.
From 2005 the students have made active use of Simchemistry, where they develop the animations themselves. This is part of a project funded by the Swedish Council for the Renewal of Higher Education, where we hypothesise that the students can develop animations only if they have an atomic-level understanding of the chemical concept being animated. Based on student comments, a manual for using SimChemistry as an active learning tool has been developed.
To view the students' animations you will need to download the Simchemistry program, and preferably look at the introductory tours.scw animation that accompanies it.
The students animations are available here.
Animations developed by Charlie Wartnaby, the SimChemistry author, are available with the program.
If you have SimChemistry animations that should be part of this library, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.