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Peer Review

Water Structure and Behavior

by Martin Chaplin


Overall Numeric Rating:

4.75 stars
Content Quality: 4.75 stars
Effectiveness: 4.25 stars
Ease of Use: 4.75 stars
Reviewed: Mar 24, 2013 by Biology Editorial Board
Overview: Water is the most studied material on Earth but it is remarkable to find that the science behind its behavior and function are so poorly understood (or even ignored), not only by people in general, but also by scientists working with it every day. The small size of its molecule belies the complexity of its actions and its singular capabilities. Liquid water's unique properties and chameleonic nature seem to fit ideally into the requirements for life as can no other molecule. A number of explanations of the complex behavior of liquid water have been published, many quite recently, with several stirring up great controversy. In this website, the author has attempted to present these ideas in a self-consistent and balanced manner, which he hopes will encourage both its understanding and further work.
Type of Material: This site can be considered as an on-line textbook or even a tutorial.
Recommended Uses: This site may be used as a tutorial outside of the classroom or as reference material.
Technical Requirements: Technical requirements include Chime to see 3D molecular models as well as plug-ins such as ActiveX, Java, and HyperChem Web Viewer.
Identify Major Learning Goals: The author's goals are to present a logically organized explanation of the complex properties of water. This is a fairly technical explanation although it does touch on items covered in a general biology class. The materials may be more appropriate for a biochemistry class.
Target Student Population: The target student population includes upper-level undergraduate students or even graduate students.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Pre-requisites include a basic understanding of atomic structure, chemical bonds, and electron orbitals.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.75 stars
  • Comprehensive coverage of properties of water
  • Superb, thorough, accurate, complete discussion of the properties of water
  • Links to other sites and references provided
  • Extensive use of great diagrams
  • Most of the material is well beyond the level of a general biology course

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.25 stars
  • A very useful resource for students studying water at a molecular level
  • All aspects of water science covered in detail--all topics covered
  • Detailed chemical explanations of water's properties under all conditions
  • Contains some frequently asked questions about water
  • Would be excellent as an out of class tutorial
  • Would need to be careful as to audience for this material; very detailed and assumes knowledge of atomic structure and chemical bonding
  • No specific assignments or questions provided to guide student learning

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.75 stars
  • Very well organized - Table of Contents (TOC) detailed and expandable on TOC page
  • Each topic covered thoroughly with references to other materials and websites
  • Easy to navigate; well linked outline with internal hyperlinks; searchable
  • High level presentation will lose many students unless audience carefully chosen or material to be used carefully selected

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