Home Computing Weekly


Chemistry

Author: M.B.
Publisher: Letts
Machine: BBC/Electron

 
Published in Home Computing Weekly #132

A double cassette in a library case, covers, atomic structure and bonding, the periodic table, formulae and equations, chemical deductions, electrolysis, apparatus (two programs), acids bases and salts and organic chemistry (two programs).

All the programs are pitched at the '0' level G.C.E., C.S.E. and G.C.S.E. standard and are intended to augment the students' formal study courses.

In my view, the least useful track is the first one, concerning atomic structure and bonding. The student is required to fill in gaps in blocks of text relating to the topic. The higher levels of difficulty are implemented by the program leaving more gaps. I do feel that this technique is of dubious educational value and that in most classroom or home environments, this would degenerate into a guessing game, with little knowledge retention. Having said that, the remaining nine programs are useful and thought provoking.

Chemistry

You can get an awfully long way in chemistry, by simply knowing the periodic table and the common properties of the various groupings. Program two draws the table and asks you to position the cursor over the boxes where particular elements reside and there is an option to relate this knowledge to electron configuration. Given this knowledge, coupled with a knowledge of bonding, the bright student could deduce a whole range of reactions and properties for most elements. A very relevant and useful program.

I also liked the approach to assembly of apparatus, in which the student actually assembles the glassware on screen, rather like a jigsaw puzzle and is then required to label it, adding the chemical equation for the reaction in question (complete with proper subscripts). The prep of 13 different gases is covered and you can soon differentiate your thistle funnel from your Leibig's Condenser.

I feel that this package would definitely be of benefit to the '0' level student and perhaps a future edition of the package could adopt a more visual! imaginative approach to structure and bonding. But this is a minor reservation in an otherwise useful suite of programs.

M.B.

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