One of the most challenging aspects of introductory chemistry for students is their ability to conceptualize physical phenomena that cannot be directly observed; topics including energy, atoms, electron structure, and bonding can be difficult to learn because of their abstract nature. This, combined with the need to learn and integrate difficult concepts in the physical sciences and mathematics, can lead many students to struggle in general chemistry. For some students, the time in class is not enough to get a strong enough handle on the class content. For others, lecture-oriented courses does not give them the time to work through conceptual problems, necessary to develop depth of understanding.

By partially flipping the classroom, in-class time can be oriented at pulling out student preconceptions and addressing them directly with the support of group work and professor leadership. At home, students are given guided activities and interactive applets that are aimed at bridging the content learned between classes. Previous class information is further extended to help introduce the next section prior to class time. In all, the goal is to help students discover fundamental concepts in chemistry, through a modern and thoughtful presentation of the material. Overall, students will learn the material in a way that leads to better retention and translation of knowledge of the chemistry.

The pedagogical thought behind these activities follows four logics: just-in-time learning; one activity, one concept; show, try, ask; and spiraling to revisit and reinforce. goal of these activities is four-fold. First, the information is presented ‘just-in-time,’ making sure that students are exposed to problems and activities only when they are ready, not before. Second, each activity taken home focuses on one topic at a time to maximize the focus and understanding on each component. Third, the activities are set up such that students are shown a concept, given the opportunity to try for themselves, and then asked thought provoking questions to help increase the depth of understanding. Finally, the fourth aspect of these activities is to revisit previous concepts to reinforce the information, allowing for a spiral approach to presented concepts. A progress report of this project is located here.

Many of the activities use online applications written using Wolfram Mathematical Computable Document Format (CDF) Technology. These CDF applications require the free CDF player plugin, available for all browsers at


  1. Traveling waves
  2. Wavenumbers
  3. Resonance
  4. Light and Matter Interactions
  5. Spectroscopy: Bond Frequencies
  6. Energy diagrams 1: Introduction
  7. Energy diagrams 2: Endothermic and exothermic reactions
  8. Energy diagrams 3: Vector addition
  9. Energy diagrams 4: First law of thermodynamics
  10. Waves, energy and frequency
  11. Spectroscopy: Electron Transitions and Light Emission
  12. Photoionization
  13. Particle in a Box: de Broglie Wavelength
  14. Particle in a Box: Standing Waves
  15. Electron waves: Radial Loops
  16. Electron density: Nodal planes
  17. Electron density: Electron waves
  18. Shielding: Electron waves in a single atom
  19. Electron waves: Electron configuration
  20. Electron waves: summary
  21. Shielding II: comparing atoms
  22. Electron wave interference
  23. Bonding and anti-bonding orbitals
  24. Non-bonding orbitals
  25. Correlation diagrams
  26. Correlation diagrams II
  27. Reaction enthalpies
  28. Hybridization

Updated Wednesday, January 14, 2015 11:37 AM