The Chemical Educator, Vol. 6, No. X, S1430-4171(01)04492-7, 10.1007/s00897000492a, © 2001 Springer-Verlag New York, Inc.

Chemistry Comes Alive!, Volume 1. Compiled by Jerrold J. Jacobsen and John W. Moore. Special Issue 18, 1998; CD-ROM for Macintosh and Windows; JCE Software, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1101 University Ave., Madison, WI 53706-1396; Phone: (608) 262-5153 or (800) 991-5534; FAX: (608) 265-8094; email:; Prices/Licensing (prices for non-U.S. are in parentheses): single user on a single machine, $60 ($80); additional single user copies, $45 ($65); libraries: single machine, $120 ($140); networks: up to 12 simultaneous users, $240 ($260); up to 50 simultaneous users, $800 ($820); more than 50 simultaneous users, contact JCE Software for a quote.


George B. Kauffman and Hiram William Blanken, California State University Fresno,,


This disk is the first in a multivolume series of CD-ROMs featuring collections of pictures, computer-generated graphics and animations, explanations, and Apple QuickTime videos depicting chemical reactions that should stimulate the curiosity of students and motivate them to learn, thus bringing chemistry to life as the series title implies. The collections are divided into volumes on related topics, generally included in a first-semester college or high school introductory chemistry course, as recommended for maximum usefulness by a group of chemical educators. For Volume 1 the topics and demonstrations (a few of which can be considered under more than one topic) are:

• Stoichiometry

Reactions of Magnesium with Carbon Dioxide; Exploding Soap Bubbles: Hydrogen + Oxygen; Acid–Base Titrations and Animation; Redox Titration and Animation; Loss of Mass of Marble Due to Reaction with Nitric Acid.

• Combination Reactions

Reactions of Potassium and Bromine; Reaction of Sodium and Chlorine; Reactions of Metals + Iodine; Hydrogen + Chlorine Cannon; Burning of Sulfur to Produce Sulfur Dioxide; Oxidation and Reduction of Copper.

• Decomposition Reactions

Ammonium Dichromate Volcano; Nitrogen Triiodide Detonation; Electrolysis of Water; Electrolysis of Aqueous Solutions.

• Single Exchange Reactions

Reaction of Magnesium with Carbon Dioxide; Water Gas Reaction; Thermite Reaction; Electrochemical Series—Metal Trees; Oxidation and Reduction of Copper.

• Double Exchange Reactions

Precipitation Reactions; Acid–Base Titrations and Animation; Thermodynamic vs. Kinetic Control: Forming Mercury(II) Iodide; Loss of Mass of Marble Due to Reaction with Nitric Acid.

• Gases


Fluidity of Gases; Atmospheric Pressure; Gas Volume; Effusion of Gases; Gas Density; Light and Heavy Balloons.

• Electrical Properties of Matter

Electrical Conductivity; Electrostatic Attraction.

The emphasis in the collection is on chemistry—with reactions shown in close-up (in only a few cases, where scale is important, are more than the demonstrators’ hands shown). Each demonstration or reaction illustrates an important aspect of chemistry.


The disk is organized like a World Wide Web site to maximize its usefulness in the classroom, and accessing its contents via web browsers should be a very easy and familiar process for most users. Correlation to a number of popular high school and college chemistry textbooks is provided, allowing the user to select the text used in class from a list and then move to each chapter to locate images that complement the content of the chapter.


Links are provided to JCE Online, where the user will find resources that complement the disk, including a consolidated index for all volumes of CCA! as they are developed, instructional materials that utilize CCA!, and previews of all CCA! volumes. The viewer must install QuickTime for the videos (played directly using MoviePlayer on the Macintosh or Media Player in Windows) and Chemscape Chime for the molecular animations, both of which can be used as lecture aids. Images can be easily incorporated into multimedia presentations or lessons. The web browser’s Bookmark function is an especially convenient way to organize material for lectures or student lessons. Sufficient written information about each video segment is provided to allow students to use the disk independently.


The starting point for accessing the program is the index page. Directions are given on how to access the index page from within a web browser. From this point the user can view the videos and animations in any order, either following the table of contents or going directly to the topics section, where a particular topic and all the associated videos can be seen. A very useful aspect of the program is the crosslinking between topics and videos, much in the same way that a webpage provides links.


The movies include voice-over narration, and the sound from the reaction is included whenever it is important, e.g., in Exploding Soap Bubbles: Hydrogen + Oxygen, in which the loudness of the explosion depends on the mole ratio of the gases in the mixture that is ignited. Several demonstrations are accompanied by computer-generated animations, which provide microscopic explanations of the observed macroscopic phenomena, e.g., Electrolysis, Acid–Base Titrations, and Redox Titration. Some demos consist of a comprehensive series of reactions that permit both the instructor and students to compare and contrast the behavior of similar reactions and to provide material that can be used in constructing tests, e.g., Precipitation Reactions, Reactions of Metals + Iodine, Electrolysis of Aqueous Solutions, and Electrochemical Series—Metal Trees. Frames diagramming the reaction can be found on the same page as the video.

System Requirements

• Netscape Navigator version 3 or later, or Microsoft Internet Explorer version 3 or later

• QuickTime plug-in version 1.1 or later

• For Mac OS

           Mac OS compatible computer

           68040 or Power PC microprocessor

           16 MB RAM available

           256-color graphics

           2´ CD-ROM drive

           System Software version 7.1 or later

• For Windows

           Windows compatible computer

           80486 or higher microprocessor

           16 MB RAM

           256-color Super VGA graphics

           2´ CD-ROM drive

           Windows 95, Windows 3.1

The greatest strength of Chemistry Comes Alive! lies in the many reactions demonstrated that would be impractical or too dangerous for students to perform. The reaction videos can be worked into lectures or class demonstrations and quickly shown to illustrate or reinforce information given during a lecture or lab. With increasing costs for reagents and equipment as well as concern over liability to students and faculty, this CD-ROM is an excellent alternative to actually performing potentially dangerous experiments and cleaning up or disposing of reaction products. Admittedly, for students nothing can replace the thrill of observing or performing a highly exothermic reaction, such as the thermite reaction or the detonation of hydrogen and oxygen gas in soap bubbles. However, in many situations the gains in being able to witness an energetic reaction hands-on do not outweigh the risks involved.


The contents of all CCA! CD-ROMs can be simultaneously browsed and searched by visiting the Website: