Teachers can best use MEL Chemistry VR Lessons as a hook for individual students who are motivated by virtual reality. Students who haven't previously used VR viewers will need support identifying the metal ring to select items on a screen. Use one of the sample videos on the MEL Science website to help students understand how to interact with the lessons.Continue reading Show less
MEL Chemistry VR Lessons introduces key concepts such as atomic structures, periodic trends, isotopes, and electron configurations. Each lesson contains a narrated video followed by a few multiple-choice questions that check for understanding. After learning to name the orbitals, students are asked a question like "How many electrons can share the same orbital?" and get immediate feedback.
To use MEL Chemistry VR Lessons, students will need a virtual reality (VR) viewer such as Google Cardboard that fits a handheld iPhone or Android device -- or a VR headset such as Google Daydream, Oculus Go, or Gear VR. One lesson pack is available free; additional lesson packs can be purchased for $9.95 each. Families who subscribe to MEL Science for $34.90 a month get the VR lesson packs along with the MEL Chemistry sets.
MEL Chemistry VR Lessons draws kids in with the excitement of virtual reality. Students can literally look around their virtual chemistry lab and select a lesson. However, the initial buzz of excitement that VR brings to the classroom fades quickly: The only way to interact with the material is through single clicks. Students get frustrated because they can’t drag and drop or spin the atoms themselves. A different tool, Happy Atoms, combines physical models with the ability to manipulate the molecule students have created.
MEL Chemistry VR Lessons uses VR technology to help kids clearly see scale, a major Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Science and Engineering Practice. These activities are fairly didactic, with little opportunity for students to notice and make sense of patterns. An alternative tool, Collisions: Play Chemistry, uses engaging puzzles to help students figure out chemistry principles themselves.
Key Standards Supported
Matter and Its Interactions
Develop models to describe the atomic composition of simple molecules and extended structures.
Analyze and interpret data on the properties of substances before and after the substances interact to determine if a chemical reaction has occurred.
Develop a model that predicts and describes changes in particle motion, temperature, and state of a pure substance when thermal energy is added or removed.
Develop and use a model to describe how the total number of atoms does not change in a chemical reaction and thus mass is conserved.
Use the periodic table as a model to predict the relative properties of elements based on the patterns of electrons in the outermost energy level of atoms.
Construct and revise an explanation for the outcome of a simple chemical reaction based on the outermost electron states of atoms, trends in the periodic table, and knowledge of the patterns of chemical properties.
Use mathematical representations to support the claim that atoms, and therefore mass, are conserved during a chemical reaction.
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