Chemistry Visualization Resources for Teachers

HF Electron Bonding DensityA Spartan-produced image of a phosphorus trichloride slice.

.....Among the more difficult concepts that high school chemistry students tackle are those dealing with atoms and how they bond. Learning the difference between predominantly ionic and predominantly covalent bonds, though, lays the foundation for understanding and predicting many chemical properties. Visualizing chemical bonding can be made much easier for the beginning student by taking advantage of chemistry web resources and programs such as CHIME, RASMOL, and VRML. In addition, there are commercial programs such as SPARTAN, which give the teacher a powerful teaching tool to help students "see" molecules in topics such as bonding, polarity, periodic trends. The 3D rendering of shapes and electron density in introducing dipoles even outpaces hands-on handling of physical models by showing via color the high and low electron density regions of molecules.
....."Webbed" teachers have available online a wide range of high-content web sites on which to draw for visualizing atoms, molecules, and bonding. Sites range from those appropriate for use with older elementary students to computation-heavy sites more appropriate for college students. This page collects links to several visualizing/modeling sites selected for their potential in helping high school students visualize atoms and the bonding process.
.....If you maintain or know of a site that would also be a good teaching resource, kindly email the URL to me (email address at the bottom of the page).


MATHMOL --K-12 Mathematics and Molecules..A starting point for modeling, including models of water, ice, carbon allotropes, hydrocarbons, as well as GIF, PDB, and VRML images of molecules, including nucleic acids and common pharmaceutical molecules.


Chemistry Visualization...Probably one of the best sites available to teachers is the Chemistry Visualization (ChemViz) project housed at the National Center of Supercomputing Applications (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign). Teachers may apply to the National Computing Center to use the Supercomputer for atomic and molecular visualization projects! The site permits you to generate both stills and movies of selected atoms bonding. The site also contains curricular materials for teachers to use in their classrooms with on-line materials! The application is available through the email address on the page.

Visualization with the Wilson Group at the University of California, San Diego

National Institutes of Health (NIH) visualizing resources:

Other Molecule Database, especially PDB (Protein Data Bank) format::

Using MIME for visualization:

Using VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language) to visualize models:

Pages using Chime and RasMol for Visualizing Chemistry:

Programs and Plug-ins useful in molecular modeling:

Spartan Resources:

Computational Chemistry sites:

Other Web Resources for Teachers: