**Mole Calculations and Lewis Dot Structures in a First Level Chemistry Class**

Up to this point I have tried to use the iPad in Organic Chemistry lab and 2nd semester General Chemistry Lecture and Lab. My colleague Cheryl Shimazu has used the iPads in 1st semester General Chemistry. This semester I decided to use them in my Preparatory Chemistry class. I wanted to see how students in their first semester of chemistry, and some in their first year of college, would work with the iPads. My plan was to reinforce mole calculations during lab time. We have a lab in this class that we have been thinking about replacing for some time so I took the liberty of doing a different kind of "hands-on" experience.

Moles are one of the cornerstones of chemistry. Up to this point in the semester students have mastered dimensional analysis with mostly familiar units. But using the mole takes dimensional analysis to a whole new level. If students can master moles then they will have a very high chance of succeeding in the rest of the calculations of chemistry. But often students get stuck in the "mole hole."

I really want them to "master" the concept of moles and how to perform gram to mole and mole to mole and particle to mole calculations. I think that if they are required to explain the concept they will have a chance for it to sink in deep. So as I have many times I turned to the iPads and the app "Educreations" to give the students a chance to teach the world. Here are some links to their productions and then I will make some observations:

Student demonstration of mole calculation #1

Student demonstration of mole calculations #2

What I found was that these students were much quicker at completing the assignment than the higher level students. They worked hard but they did not seem to be as picky as my General Chemistry or Organic Chemistry students. Generally my colleague and I have found that the lower the level the quicker the students are and more likely to take a risk. They did not try to be as perfect as the upper students. This of course has an up and a down side. The up side was that they completed the task in enough time for me to assign them another task with the iPads. In this same unit students are learning to draw Lewis dot structures. In a 3 hour lab period the students were able to easily complete the two screencasts (mole calculation and Lewis dot). My ultimate goal for the students was to have them explain the concept so that it would deepen their understanding. I think this was accomplished. Having the presentations be beautiful is secondary to me at this point. So I am very pleased with the outcome. The average grade on the exam (#2) was 86%. The previous time I taught this class the average on this exam was 71%. I cannot say it is a perfect comparison as the sample size is too small and there are too many variables, but the correlation is favorable to the use of iPads. On the exam they have to perform calculations very similar to those they sreencasted. Here are some examples of the Lewis dot structure screencasts:

Student demonstration of Lewis dot structure #1

Student demonstration of Lewis dot structure #2

This was the only time we used iPads this last semester in this class. But for me it may have been the most enjoyable use of iPads in the classroom so far. The students seemed to enjoy the experience. Here are some of their comments:

"It was a great way for me to listen to myself speak and correcting my terminology on the subject. Giving me a better understanding of what I was teaching but wasn't quite sure about."

"I felt this exercise helped me better understand the problem for the reason that I was explaining rather than being on the other end and listening. I greatly recommend this method of teaching."

"I feel like I'm in a school of the future"

"This app is pretty cool and helps you interact more with the lessons"

One thing I have learned from the last two semester is not to overuse the iPads. I think last semester I used them too much and the students lost the joy of learning with the new technology. With my Prep Chem. class this was definitely not the case. Many asked, "When are we going to get to use the iPads again?"