Model ChemLab and Chemistry Education:

Chemistry education means learning theory from a book and testing it with experiments in the laboratory, right? Well, that was the case until the advent of the personal computer. Now along side the theoretical and experimental branches of chemistry, there is the computational branch. Chemists are developing new theoretical models using computer simulations while chemistry students are learning the critical principles and techniques of experimental chemistry using interactive simulation software like Model ChemLab.

Experimental simulations are useful for demonstrations, lab run-throughs, pre-lab work as well as hazardous, expensive, or lengthy labs. Moreover, interactive simulations represent a new way of learning, a way that appeals to a whole generation of students raised with television and entertained by computer games. Nevertheless, interactive simulations should not be considered a substitute for hands-on experience. In fact, they are a great way to prepare students to perform experiments efficiently and safely. Educators know how awkward it is to explain lab procedures to students. Even when the instructor demonstrates the lab before their eyes, students ask what to do when the equipment is in their hands. The instructor inevitably ends up moving around the lab answering the same questions over and over again. By having students run through the experiment using an interactive simulation before they perform the actual experiment, they are better prepared and have a better sense for what's going on. The laboratory becomes a safer environment for learning, and expensive chemicals are less likely to be wasted. When a practical lab is not feasible due to hazards, budget constraints, or time limitations, a simulation can provide a convenient substitute.

All this assumes, of course, that students are meeting in a school with a laboratory. However, this is not necessarily the case. Interactive simulations make a virtual school possible for those who, for whatever reason, don't find it convenient to attend an actual school. A student enrolled in a distance learning program may use an interactive simulation to perform labs at home, submitting their results to the instructor via the Internet. The computational branch of chemistry is growing rapidly. Check out Model ChemLab today.


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