3 Chemistry

Last update: June 1/20

Acid-Base Solutions (PhET) (CC BY)

First-year chemistry. This lab simulates acidic and basic solutions of varying strength. Students can measure acidity/basicity with a pH meter and pH paper, and they can observe electron mobility by completing a circuit with the solution, with which they can test how bright a light bulb shines. Students can also make their own solutions of varying concentrations and strength. Some work will need to be done by an instructor to prepare procedures and assessment questions. May need to be paired with another lab for completeness.

Alpha Decay (PhET) (CC BY)

First-year chemistry. Shows nuclear decay and half-life. Requires a software download.

Atomic Interactions (PhET) (CC BY)

First-year chemistry. This simulation illustrates very well the concept of attractive and repulsive interatomic forces and how a potential energy diagram translates to what is actually happening on an atomic scale. Instructors could use this simulation to explain why the noble gases are monoatomic, while oxygen is diatomic.

Balloons & Buoyancy (PhET) (CC BY)

First-year chemistry. Visually shows ideal gas laws.

Beer’s Law Lab (PhET) (CC BY)

First-year chemistry. This simulation demonstrates Beer’s Law quite well. Instructors can develop procedures for measuring the concentration of various coloured inorganic solutions, such as drink mix. Students can switch between absorbance and transmittance, vary the concentrations of solutions, and see how absorbance and transmittance changes with concentration.

Concentration (PhET) (CC BY)

First-year chemistry. An instructor could ask students to predict the concentration of a diluted solution through calculations and then use the software to support their predictions. Pairs well with Beer’s Law simulation.

Diffusion (PhET) (CC BY)

First- to third-year chemistry. Simple but effective diffusion model. Students can adjust size and T of objects and time and measure diffusion when a barrier is removed.

Double Wells and Covalent Bonds (PhET) (CC BY)

Upper-level physical chemistry. Demonstrates the abstract concepts of wave functions and energy levels in covalent bonds in an easy-to-understand way.

Elementary Flame Test and Flame Test II

First-year chemistry. A very simple virtual flame test experiment, colloquially known as the rainbow flame test. In the elementary flame test, students observe the emission spectrum of four known standards and use them to identify two unknowns. The simulation mimics the lab experience well.

The second version has 12 standards and 12 unknowns. Full identification would take approximately one hour. May require a free Open University account to access.

Energy Forms and Changes (PhET) (CC BY)

First-year chemistry. Shows simple energy transfers.

Fourier: Making Waves (PhET) (CC BY)

First- and second-year chemistry. Shows constructive and destructive wave interactions.

Gas Properties (PhET) (CC BY)

First-year chemistry. Good demonstration of the ideal gas law. Students can play around with temperature, volume, pressure, and number of molecules and see how the properties of the system change. Includes the kinetic theory of gases.

GasSim: a gas simulation app

Upper-level physical chemistry. This simulation provides ideal gas and real gas model curves for a number of gases, based on input variables. A student could conceivably generate a number of different data sets for different gases and compare the ideal gas model to the real gas models.

The Greenhouse Effect (PhET) (CC BY)

First-year chemistry. Gives a simple illustration of the greenhouse effect.

Microwaves (PhET) (CC BY)

First-year chemistry. Demonstrates interaction of molecules with microwaves.

Models of the Hydrogen Atom (PhET) (CC BY)

First-year chemistry. This simulation nicely illustrates different models of the hydrogen atom, and how absorption of different wavelengths of light affect the quantized energy levels of the electrons.

Molecule Polarity (PhET) (CC BY)

First-year chemistry or second-year organic chemistry. This simulation demonstrates how electronegativity affects the dipole moment of various molecules.

Molecules and Light (PhET) (CC BY)

First-year chemistry. Shows how molecules interacts with different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum and the effect of different wavelengths on different molecules.

Molecule Shapes (PhET) (CC BY)

First-year chemistry. Shows molecule shapes as 3D models. Good for VSEPR theory. Note that the bond angles are incorrect in the “model,” but are correct in the “real molecules.”

Neon Lights & Other Discharge Lamps (PhET) (CC BY)

First-year chemistry. Shows electron transfers of an atom due to energy input and output.

Nuclear Fission (PhET) (CC BY)

First- to third-year chemistry. Shows nuclear decay reaction and application in a nuclear power plant. Great fun to fire a neutron into various atoms and watch them decay, or not. Not a lab: maybe useful as a pre-lab activity.

Pesticide analysis with GC-MS

Second- or third-year chemistry. This is a very good gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS) simulation for organic, environmental, or analytical chemistry. Has a database of mass spectra to aid in identifying each GC peak.

Photoelectric Effect (PhET) (CC BY)

First- and second-year chemistry. Good demo on the photoelectric effect.

pH Scale and pH Scale: Basics (PhET) (CC BY)

First-year chemistry. The first activity shows the pH of common items and how it varies with concentration. The second activity is part of the first.

Proton Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (1H NMR)

Second-year organic chemistry. A very good interactive tutorial on 1H NMR. The explanations are clear, with visual references. It also has about 20 spectra for students to interpret.

Quantum Bound States (PhET) (CC BY)

Second- or third-year chemistry. Demo showing quantum states. Could potentially be used as a first-year lab.

Quantum Wave Interference (PhET) (CC BY)

Second- or third-year chemistry. Students should do the three wave PhETs first. This is a nice simulation lab, as it is easy to change the quantities, such as slit width, to get good quantitative data that can yield rich discussion from the students.

Radioactive Dating Game (PhET) (CC BY)

First-year chemistry. Demo showing half-life decay.

Reactants, Products and Leftovers (PhET) (CC BY)

First-year chemistry. Good for showing reaction stoichiometry.

Reactions & Rates (PhET) (CC BY)

First-year chemistry. This simulation demonstrates the relation between gas phase reactions and free energy diagrams well and shows the thermodynamics of a reaction. However, note that it does not simulate solution kinetics or have any numbers to relate what is happening in the box.

Reversible Reactions (PhET) (CC BY)

First-year chemistry. Shows the energy needed for reverse reactions. Software download required.

Rutherford Scattering (PhET) (CC BY)

First-year chemistry. This simulation supports lecture concepts of the atomic model by clearing showing Rutherford’s famous experiment.

ScienceGeek.Net: AP Chemistry (printing permitted)

First-year chemistry. A free chemistry course website that covers virtually all subjects in first-year chemistry.

Simplified MRI (PhET) (CC BY)

Second-year chemistry. Simple illustration of how an MRI works.

States of Matter and States of Matter: Basics (PhET) (CC BY)

First-year chemistry. Shows the molecular motion as systems go through their states of matter. This lab demonstrates an important concept and, as there is both a thermometer and a pressure gauge, a student can generate nice data, including graphs, which allows rich discussion by students.

Sugar and Salt Solutions (PhET) (CC BY)

First-year chemistry. Shows the relationship between current and solute in a solution.

Virtual Chemistry from Oxford VR Group

Undergraduate chemistry. Lots of resources — including labs — ranging from general chemistry to advanced organic chemistry. The organic mechanisms tutorial is especially good. This is appropriate for all levels of university chemistry.

The Virtual Chemistry Laboratory (CC BY-NC-ND)

First-year chemistry. This is a simulation of a laboratory, providing various substances and tools for students to experiment with. This could be a good platform for students to conduct titration labs.


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Virtual Lab and Science Resource Directory by BCcampus is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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