The ChemCollective is a digital library of online activities for chemistry teachers which aims to engage students in more authentic problem-solving activities than those found in most textbooks.

Their virtual lab will look slightly familiar to anyone who has ever used Crocodile Chemistry. The pane on the left provides a range of different chemical reagents, such as acids and bases of differing strengths.

The main work space provides an area where the students can perform different experiments. As they do so, the right-hand panel provides different representations of the contents of the selected solution, including information such as it’s temperature and pH, plus a list of chemical species with amounts shown as moles, grams, or molar concentrations.

You can choose how much of a chemical to add at a time – so for example you could add an acid to a base 5ml at a time, and see what happens to it’s pH after each step.

For the Virtual Chemistry Lab to work you will need to be able to use Java, so this may be an issue in some schools with very locked down systems. You can also download a version to run offline.

The ChemCollective website provides some comprehensive guides to the Chemistry Lab, and a whole load more resources for teaching chemistry.

As always, virtual simulations should not replace actually doing the experiments for real. But sometimes, for revision purposes, or for times when a lab is not available, being able to access these kind of online simulations can be very useful.

Check out Virtual Chemistry Lab here.