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Peer Review

Ideal Gas Law Simulation

by John Gelder


Overall Numeric Rating:

5 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 5 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Oct 27, 2005 by Chemistry Editorial Board
Overview: An effective tool to help students learn about all aspects of the ideal gas law. One of the best web gas law simulations.
Type of Material: Simulation, Lecture/Presentation, Tutorial
Target Student Population: College, Introductory Courses

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: The content seems accurate enough. I did three manual calculations to check the values and what was displayed was accurate.
Concerns: The piston does move up or down suddenly when you are adjusting the parameters. This may concern some students. The P, V, n, T graph needs some work. Most times the red line of the graph was either too low or too high to be seen by the student. As it is now, it is OK, but I would recommend that the authors work to include a user scale routine.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: This software can be used in lecture presentations, for a tutorial for students, and for use in the laboratory. I highly recommend this software to anyone teaching/constructing a learning activity about gas laws (college or high school levels).
Concerns: The P.V. n. T graph should allow 1/V. 1/P. 1/T plots.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: The authors have clearly notified users that the software does not work with Netscape Communicator (NC). I tried using version NC V4.7 and the software does not load. It works just fine with Explorer.

The authors have provided an Adobe Acrobat document that explains how to use the simulation and includes suggestions for activities/experiments to run while using the simulation. The URL is:
Features of Excellence: This is an intuitive piece of simulation software. It is designed so that the user can easily figure out what to do - change the parameters of P, V, n, T and see what happens to the gas molecules in the cylinder. You can have He or Ne gas molecules or both in the cylinder. It is easy to use. Students are not going to get lost in this simulation because everything is done from one screen.

It has an enable tracking button so that you can follow the flight of one of the gas molecules. Graph of particle speeds is easy to see and understand. This is a gas law simulation. It does not provide feedback as to whether what you are doing is right or wrong.
Concerns: The system is a bit complex for most students to use it effectively without guidance. Students can use it without guidance, but in my opinion, students will need some structure as to what experiments to perform and what to look for. This is provided in the Adobe Acrobat document - but the document needs to be linked to the software.

Creative Commons:
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States