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Peer Review

Animated Chemistry Tutorials and Models

by Patrick Wegner


Overall Rating:

5 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 5 stars
Ease of Use: 4 stars
Reviewed: Apr 26, 2006 by Chemistry Editorial Board
Overview: Animated Chemistry Tutorial and Model is a web site that provides users with
comprehensive and interactive tutorials (containing shockwave animations) on
molecule representation and modeling including Lewis Dot representation of
organic and inorganic compounds, atomic orbital and hybridization, VSEPR and
molecular orbital theory. Tutorials also cover phase diagram and heating/cooling
curve. The animations are of a very high quality and extremely clear in
presentation. Several quizzes are offered at the end to review bonding.

Instructors/TA can also request a free Login ID to use a companion Course
Management System. This allows instructors to: create a class on-line, have
students enroll in the class, select various assignments and create a schedule
for them, establish grading parameters and scales for automated assessment,
provide individualized learning and assessment and automatic learning reports.
Learning Goals: This site integrates Lewis structures with VSEPR, VB and MO calculations of
energy levels, surfaces etc. The objective is to provide a complete
understanding of the bonding associated with most of the common molecules,
diatomic elements, main group acids, ions etc.
Target Student Population: Advanced level high school, introductory chemistry, organic and physical
chemistry students will find this web site useful.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Students should have background in chemical bonding and good understanding of
fundamental concepts such as Periodic Table, valence electron and electronic
Type of Material: The site uses various shockwave animations from Macromedia which you are
prompted to download/install if necessary. The load time may be a little long
for slow internet connections.
Recommended Uses: Students learning about bonding will see how to draw Lewis structures, assign
geometries (VSEPR), and learn the ramifications of those structures on bond
angles, hybridization (Valence Bond Theory), and electron surfaces. Organic
students will benefit from HOMO-LUMO values.
Technical Requirements: Shockwave is required.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: The way the site incorporates VB and MO calculations showing contours, shapes,
surfaces, energy levels, any kind of calculated parameter one might imagine,
is extraordinary. The animation is done in such a way that the user can
manipulate the animations to learn at their level, from 1st year student to
senior or graduate level student. The labelling of the MO's is particularly
It also provides a comprehensive and interactive tutorials on Lewis Dot
representation of organic and inorganic compounds.
Concerns: Some of the orbital labelling is distorted graphically (letters are cutoff at
the top etc.). These are small things. The animations could also be made much
larger to use more of the real estate available on most screens.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: This is an excellent web site that can used at different levels of the chemistry
curriculum including general, organic and physical chemistry. The thermodynamic
models are extremely clear and inviting. The user obtains both a molecular and
a macroscopic understanding of what is happening. The thermodynamic animations
are a splendid example of best practice. The Lewis structures and energy
calculations are clear and very helpful. Also the user can request a Login ID to
use the web site as a course management system for instructional delivery,
tracking and grading.
Concerns: Some of the animations are quite fast with the graphical elements, not using
enough of the available graphical space making the following of events
difficult. It would be helpful if the animation speeds were slowed or under
user control.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: The site is clearly laid out, although better menu control and navigability
throughout the site would be helpful. The construction of the Lewis structures
is particular informative and intriguing, meaning that students will use the
site as a tutorial. The animations on this site set a new standard of
Concerns: The hybridization graphical items are really too small to show what you want to
show. Use as much of the graphical real estate as possible to more clearly
present the ideas. Change the backgrounds from black to some more appealing
color. Consider getting a graphic design student to give some advice on font
and layout issues. The flashing menu items are quite distracting.

Other Issues and Comments: This is an outstanding set of animations giving simple thermodynamic
demonstrations such as phase diagrams, phase changes, molecular properties of
water. In addition there is a complete set of animations related to valence
bond and MO energy levels, Lewis structures etc. for a very large range of
molecules and ions. The animations are extremely information, very interactive,
and visually appealing. The site will find wide use by students of chemistry
throughout their careers.