Teaching with Atomsmith > How It All Works

How It All Works

Open The Atomsmith Classroom, and two windows appear (see the figure, right):

  1. The window on the left is the Model Window. This is where you and your students will interact with Atomsmith's atoms and molecules.
  2. The window on the right is the Experiment Browser. It is through the Experiment Browser that you and your students click to enter the Experiments and Lessons of The Atomsmith Classroom Curriculum Units that you have licensed.

(Click Image to Enlarge)


From here, there are two main ways to use Atomsmith in your classroom:

  1. As a Classroom Demonstration Tool. Close the Experiment Browser and open any of Atomsmith's various "Labs" or Molecule Libraries to demonstrate concepts using an interactive whiteboard or an LCD projector. Or better yet, invite your students up to the front to teach their peers.
  2. As a Virtual Laboratory. Send your students off to their computers (e.g., from a laptop cart) to work through the Experiments on their own or in pairs. Then you can mingle with your students, observing and offering one-on-one assistance.


Atomsmith as a Demonstration Tool

The Atomsmith Classroom offers several interactive tools that bring chemistry concepts to life. These include an interactive periodic table, a timeline of the people and concepts that represent the history of atomic theory, a molecule builder, and numerous "Labs" that implement visual, interactive models of the atom, atomic and bonding orbitals, electron configuration, Lewis Structures, and ideal and real gases.

These tools are integrated into The Atomsmith Classroom's Curriculum, but they are also terrific tools for illustrating your class lectures when using an interactive whiteboard or an LCD projector.


Atomsmith as a Virtual Laboratory

Send your students to their computers and they have an interactive and safe (no chemical spills, burns or fires) virtual lab at their fingertips. Students select a Unit by left-clicking on it in the box on the left side of the Experiment Browser. Once they 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.

Each Experiment is supplied with a Worksheet that students will use to record their Observations. Either you or they can print it from the “Open Experiment Worksheet” button in the Experiment Browser, or if you prefer, students can record their Observation answers in their notebooks or on their computers (when you supply them the Worksheet as a MS Word document).

The typical format for a Lesson or Experiment is a Unit Overview or short introductory narrative followed by Experiment Objectives. The Objectives are followed by directions for conducting the Experiment (the Experiment Procedure) and by a series of questions targeting students’ Observations and the data generated from performing the Experiment. Some Observation questions are answered online; others are recorded on the Experiment Worksheets. Throughout the Experiments, students will 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 should have been achieved by completing the Experiment. The list corresponds to the goals set out in the Objectives.

Finally, The Atomsmith Classroom Curriculum suggests that students keep a Class Journal (reflection=enlightenment), and perform Experiment Extensions. Experiment Extensions involve some independent thinking on the part of the student.

For Atomsmith newbies, the Unit “Introducing The Atomsmith Classroom” covers the basics of what molecules and molecular models are (We believe that it is important for students to have a basic understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the models they 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.


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