Even with all the advances in computer technology that have occurred in the past several years, there is still uncertainty about how to use that technology effectively in the classroom. Many entering college students are either unaccustomed to, or find it difficult to, visualize and animate three-dimensional images "in their heads". Yet this ability is essential to being able to succeed and enjoy chemistry, physics, and even calculus. This project is aimed at developing materials that will help students understand the space-filling and dynamic nature of molecules, promote a habit of using 3-D visualization and animation to gain a more thorough and intimate understanding of chemical systems, and thereby help all students to think of chemistry as real, dynamic processes.
Our work involves creating materials to illustrate a set of core topics in the chemistry curriculum. Our project has produced a set of Computer Modules, which we call the C-MoR Modules, each of which focuses on a concept that is central to learning chemistry or on a lab technique that is central to doing chemistry. Half of these modules deal with instrumentation and laboratory techniques, while the other half present basic concepts in chemistry. The materials and modules are being developed such that topics introduced in first-year courses can be re-presented using the same modules, but with additional depth and elaboration, in subsequent courses. Modules developed for use in lectures or labs are being amplified so that they can be used as free-standing student tutorials. We are making our modules available to other schools via our recently published CD (C-MoR Chemistry Project - Release 1, June 1997, University of Richmond, VA 23173) and on diskette for newer modules as they are completed. Additionally, materials are being disseminated through workshops and presentations at regional and national chemistry meetings, through invited presentations to Chemistry Departments at other colleges and universities, and through the Richmond Math-Science Center to central Virginia secondary school science teachers.
We welcome requests from college/university chemistry departments who are interested in having us come demonstrate our modules and describe/suggest effective pedagogical uses of them.