Teaching with Atomsmith > How It All Works > FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How long does each experiment or lesson take students to complete?

A: We have attempted to make each lesson a length that can be completed within a 50-minute class period or less (including teacher introductions and journal entry review times). Those with block scheduling (longer class times) should be able to complete multiple lessons.  Each lesson's Teacher's Guide includes a time estimate for completing the lesson.

Q: When I open a Simulation/Lab directly from the Model Window’s “Simulation” menu, why are there more controls/options than when the same Lab opens automatically as part of the curriculum lessons or experiments?

A: When students are working through an Experiment's Procedures, we try to minimize the distractions, so we only show the controls required to complete the experiment. However, if the simulation/lab is opened directly from the “Simulation” tab, we provide access to all the controls so you are able to develop your own demonstrations and students can explore and develop their own experiments.


Q: Which Curriculum Unit includes the interactive Periodic Table?

A: The Interactive Periodic Table (Atomic DashboardTM) is accessible from all Curriculum Units.  And don't miss its "News" button that provides links to current chemistry-related news articles and molecular models illustrating the topics discussed.


Q: What if paper cost is an issue for my school – do I have to print and hand out the student worksheets?

A: If paper cost is an issue, students can also answer the Experiment Observation questions on a separate sheet of paper or in their lab notebooks. If you prefer to use this method, students will not have the Worksheet's Experiment Overview (which you/the teacher can introduce verbally), nor will they have the Extension question or Journaling reminder. Teachers can also make the Worksheets accessible in Microsoft Word .doc format, allowing students to answer directly on their computers (and submit to your dropbox). However, this method requires students to click more between Windows and is not as effective when the answers require drawings, diagrams or mathematical computations.


Q: Where can I get helpful suggestions on how to integrate Atomsmith’s curriculum into my existing classroom structure?

A: At the end of Atomsmith’s overall “Teacher’s Guide,” there are examples of strategies that other teachers have used to get started using the software and also delineated steps that you may want to take to be prepared to have your students use the software for the first time. Because each classroom is run a bit differently, your best bet is to, in advance of student use, work through the lessons and experiments in a unit on your own and then you will quickly see were the software adds the most value to your existing curriculum.


Q: What if I have a question on a particular curriculum topic or simulation?

A: In the Model Window’s “Help” menu, you can choose “Send email to Bitwixt Support” to send an email asking any question that you may have. We will attempt to get back to you prior to the next school day. And if there’s a question that one of your students has that you can’t answer, they can do the same (if they have email access).


Q: I am interested in showing my class a molecule that isn’t available in Atomsmith’s molecule libraries. Is there anything that I can do?

A: Yes, just send us an email via the “Help” menu, and we will provide you with the parameters and instructions for loading the molecule into Atomsmith (if the molecule is one that we have in our archives). For simplicity and computing efficiency, we have tried to provide access to what we believe to be the most important and widely studied small organic molecules. However, if reasonable, we are happy to satisfy requests for specific additional molecules.

Q: I’ve noticed that Atomsmith’s worksheet questions match up with the Observation questions in the Experiments/Lessons. If I want to add additional questions of my own (to your .doc worksheet) what’s the best way for handling that?

A: We provide the worksheets to teachers in .doc format so that you/they can change the worksheets in whatever way they believe best suits their teaching goals.  However, we do suggest that teachers either add any additional questions at the end of the worksheet or insert questions in a different font (or color), while maintaining the existing Observation numbering. Also, if a teacher decides to remove an Observation question, we suggest that the existing Observation numbering be maintained. This strategy just makes it easier for the students to follow along within the lessons/experiments and know where they are in each lesson.


Q: Does The Atomsmith Classroom offer a complete chemistry curriculum?

A: Atomsmith's curriculum focuses on chemistry topics where the ability to visualize what is happening at the submicroscopic level is a strong asset to teaching/learning.  As a result, The Atomsmith Classroom is not a complete chemistry curriculum, but it is extremely value-adding to many chemistry topics.  Atomsmith helps students to connect the submicroscopic world to the macroscopic and symbolic worlds of chemistry.  We strongly recommend using The Atomsmith Classroom in conjunction with wet lab and other hands-on learning experiences to reduce or enhance classroom lecture time.

“Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand.” -- Chinese Proverb


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