Self-Learning with Atomsmith > How It All Works
How It All Works
Open The Atomsmith Classroom, and two windows appear (see the figure, right):
Atomsmith as a Virtual Laboratory
With Atomsmith, you have an interactive and safe (no chemical spills, burns or fires) virtual lab at your fingertips. Just select a Unit by left-clicking on it in the box on the left side of the Experiment Browser. Once you select a Unit, the Experiments and Lessons in that Unit appear in the box on the right side. Units and their corresponding experiments are color-coded (e.g. Phases of Matter - Gases, Atomic Structure, Molecular Structure - VSEPR). By selecting an experiment and clicking on the “Open the Experiment” button, you will enter the experiment. Then just start reading -- all that you need to know is presented in tutorial format. There's no instruction manual. You don't need one!
The typical format for an Experiment is a Unit Overview or short introductory narrative followed by Experiment Objectives. The Experiment’s Objectives are followed by directions for conducting the Experiment (the Experiment Procedure) and by a series of questions targeting Observations and data generated from performing the Experiment. Some Observation questions are answered online; others are recorded on the Experiment Worksheets. Throughout the Experiments, you will also find embedded web links and animations. These links and animations provide instantaneous enrichment of the material being covered.
At the conclusion of each Experiment, there is a Summary section. This section lists what you should have achieved by completing the Experiment. The list corresponds to the goals set out in the Objectives.
As mentioned above, each Experiment is also supplied with a Worksheet that you can use to record your Experiment Observations. (Print it from the “Open Experiment Worksheet” button in the Experiment Browser.) You can then check the worksheet by using the answers provided in the "Teachers" menu in the Model Window.
Finally, The Atomsmith Classroom Curriculum suggests that you keep a Journal to track your growing knowledge (a scientific practice), and also that you challenge yourself with Experiment Extensions. Experiment Extensions involve some independent thinking on your part, but vary in their rigor.
And if you would like to create your own experiments and use the labs and tools independent of the curriculum text, simply close the Experiment Browser (right window) and access all of the tools that you have licensed through the Model Window's "Simulation" and "View" menus.
For Atomsmith newbies, the Unit “Introducing The Atomsmith Classroom” is always available regardless of which Curriculum Units you have licensed. This Unit covers the basics of what molecules and molecular models are (We believe that it is important for you to have a basic understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the models that you are working with.) and how to use the Model Window’s visualization tools. It also contains a Lesson that instructs on the Scientific Method and its terminology -- material referenced often in other Curriculum Units.