The Chemical Educator, Vol. 7, No. 3, S1430-4171(02)03573-4, 10.1007/s00897020573a, © 2002 Springer-Verlag New York, Inc.
Practical Chemistry for Schools & Colleges. Two CD-ROM set, 2000. £59.50 plus shipping. Order from: Viewtech Educational Media, 7-8 Falcons Gate, Northavon Business Centre, Dean Road, Yate, Bristol, BS37 5NH, England; telephone: 011-44-1454-858055; FAX: 011-44-1454-858056; e-mail: email@example.com; Web site: http://www.viewtech. co.uk.
This is the second interactive CD-ROM set produced by the RSC (Royal Society of Chemistry) for post-16 chemistry students (corresponding roughly to the last two years of U.S. high school) and teachers to support practical work in AS and A2 courses (In the equivalent of grade 11 typical UK students take five self-chosen "AS" courses. At the end of this grade they take exams in their AS subjects, then normally reduce the number of subjects studied in their final year to three or four. These subjects will be a subset of their AS subjects and are studied at the higher "A2" level for the final year in high school).
The discs were produced by the RSC on behalf of the Chemistry Video Consortium (Universities of Huddersfield, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Nottingham, Reading, Sheffield, Southampton, Ulster, and Wolverhampton; Imperial College, London; The Open University; and Sheffield Hallam University), c/o A. J. Rest, Dept. of Chemistry, University of Southampton, Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK; email: firstname.lastname@example.org: FAX: 011-44-23 8059 3781; http://www.soton.ac.uk/~chemweb/cvc.
The comprehensive program contains 13 detailed video clips, accompanied by text, commentary, and a self-test, of the following standard practical techniques:
• “Assembling Apparatus”
• “Solvent Extraction”
• “Drying Samples”
• “Suction Filtration”
• “Doing a Titration”
• “Using a Burette”
• “Using a Pipette”
• “Gravity Filtration”
• “Thin Layer Chromatography”
• “Making Up Solutions”
System Requirements: Pentium 200 MHz PC; 8´ Speed CD-ROM; Windows 95, 98, or NT 4.0; 800 ´ 600 screen resolution; 64000 colors; sound card.
The submenus are accessed from the Main Menu, which is activated by moving the mouse cursor over the Menu graphic at the top left of the screen, from which the following menu choices are available:
Options: Text On, Text Size, Scrolling Text. The Learning Mode provides instant feedback on quiz questions. The Test Mode withholds quiz answers and provides only a final score.
Video: The upper menu shows video titles available for that disc. Print sends the video script to the default printer, which gives users instructions to follow, making certain that they perform the operations correctly—an application that is most useful in learning the particular technique.
Glossary: Words highlighted in red provide links to other glossary items.
Quiz: There are 10 True/False questions for each topic. Once selected, the answer cannot be changed. If the Learning Mode is selected (under Options), feedback is given. The Score Quiz calculates the results. In order to achieve a good score the user must know all the hazards and reasons for performing each technique—a helpful guide for instructors wishing to learn how much attention their students have paid to the program.
Most of the videos are well arranged and explain each step in great detail. However, the more advanced techniques are located on the first disc, while the important basic techniques are located on the second one. Also, the “Drying Samples” video was confusing and difficult to understand when dealing with desiccators. Furthermore, the “Recrystallization” video fails to discuss the reasons for the technique although this information is provided on the other videos. Safety precautions and the reasons for them are thoroughly explained, and several videos even show what can happen if they are not correctly followed. The program is advantageous both in and out of the classroom or laboratory.
Preview material can be accessed on LearnNet, the RSC’s education network, which provides direct access to teaching and learning resources across all age groups (http://www.chemsoc.org/networks/LearnNet). This site allows the viewer to download chapters from books, locate experiments to perform in lessons, browse through posters, watch video clips, play interactive educational games, access teaching resources from other organizations, and network with other teachers.