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The ChemCollective   NSDL and CMU


About Us

View Contributors


Papers and Publications


Intro for Instructors

Find Activities

Online Stoichiometry Course

Comment About Your Experience

Share Classroom Data

Modify or Create Activities


Intro for Students

Find your Instructor's Website

Chemistry Tutorials

Run Virtual Lab

Explore a Murder Mystery

Try Other Activities


Getting Started and FAQ



Related Projects

The ChemCollective >> FAQ's and How To's

Frequently Asked Questions, for new users

What does it cost to use the on-line activities on this site?

The Chemistry Collective project is currently funded by the National Science Foundation, so our software is available free of charge to all educators and students. You and your students can use it on the web immediately without any licensing requirements. We only ask that you let us know that you are using it, along with the number of students involved, so that we can report data about the overall use to our funders. Additional comments are also welcome to help improve all of the activities in this collection.

What are the Recommended System Requirements for the Virtual Lab?

The minimum computer requirements for the Virtual Lab are:
Pentium II Processor
Windows 95, 98, ME, NT, 2000, or XP; Mac OS10.2
128 MB of RAM
15 MB hard drive space
800 x 600 Screen Resolution.

If you have problems loading or running the Virtual Lab on your computer, please contact us at

How can I become a contributor to the ChemCollective?

Once you have created a new Virtual Lab activity or scenario, send us the files by e-mail and we will post it to the ChemCollective site and give you credit as the author of the problem. It will them become available to any instructors who want to use it in their chemistry classes.

How can I have my website listed on

Just send us your URL and we will include it in our links to chemistry websites. You can also establish an instructor page within the ChemCollective site. You can then use as the place your students visit to access assignments and run Virtual Lab homework problems. They can just log on, go to the Students section of the website, and and click on Find your instructor's website.

Will I be able to run the Virtual Lab on an older Mac?

The Virtual Lab runs on OS10.1 and higher. We are working on making it compatible with earlier versions.

Can I get copies of the Virtual Lab on CD if web access is difficult for my students?

Yes, you can. While we encourage use of the Virtual Lab over the web, we realize that in some situations this may not be feasible. We will be happy to send you copies of the Virtual Lab on CD, although we need to charge a small fee to cover our costs depending on the number of CDs you need. Alternatively, we can send one CD and give you permission to burn enough copies for your students if you have access to CD-writing hardware.

How easy is it for students to learn to use the virtual lab?

Our observations of new users indicate that 5 minutes of exploration is typically sufficient for students to learn the essential features of the Virtual Lab. You can help by walking them through the step-by-step sample titration problem that illustrates all of the features in context. A user guide that explains the function of each feature is also available to answer questions about specific Virtual Lab tools or features.

What feedback or comments would you like me to provide?

Any comments that help to assess the effectiveness of any of the activities or guide other instructors are welcome. There is a comment button for each activity so that other instructors will see your remarks when they are added. Questions you might address include:

  • Was the level of difficulty appropriate for your course?
  • How have your students responded to Virtual Lab experiments and scenarios in terms of interest or motivation?
  • Have would you describe your students' ability to learn chemistry using these activities?
  • What additional topics or tools would you like to see added to the collection?

How do I create my own problems for the Virtual Lab?

The current activities are supported by a small team at Carnegie Mellon. We hope to build a larger collection of activities by other authors who provide their own support.

The easiest way is to use the Virtual Lab Authoring Tool. It provides a structured procedure to design a new activity from start to finish. The Virtual Lab Authoring Tool helps you to:

  • choose the chemicals you need from the standard stockroom;
  • create new chemical solutions if necessary;
  • enable or disable Virtual Laboratory tools, such as the Solution Viewer and the pH meter;
  • write a description of the problem in html;
  • test the activity to make sure it works as planned.

We will be happy to help you with any of these steps if you experience difficulties in creating a new activity. Just contact us at or 412-268-7914.

   Page Last Updated: 01.29.2010