Virtual chemistry lab for acid-base titration 

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With the advancement of modern computer technology, the more and more educational software is used in education.  The application of educational software is broad and, in some area, is crucial.  In medical education, for example, students can practice high-risk performances without putting patients to awkward positions -- with a computer simulation program preservice nurses can practice thousand times the highest risky procedures most nurses perform (Delaney, 1998).  For this kind of educational application, many computer software has been developed and most educational software are classified into media for inquiry according to Bruce & Levin‚s taxonomy (1997): simulation and virtual reality environment, computer-aided lab, and hypertext environment.

In science education, experiments are widely regarded as an important part because science is "activity based explorations into natureš (Markow & Lonning, 1998, p. 1016).  However, lab experiments often take a long time, and sometimes are dangerous.  Without the shortcoming of lab experiments, the applications of simulation software may help students widen their exploration of the nature.  It can deal with any dangerous or impossible experiments for young students and help the students build theories and practice experimental skills with interest.  In addition, the students can save time to prepare for experimental equipment and chemicals. 

Among many chemistry labs, acid-base titration is very basic and important one. However, using acids and bases in a high school lab is dangerous because students might burn their skin or damage their eyes when they deal with chemicals. Also, there are some concerns about chemical waste that the lab causes (Markow & Lonning, 1998).  If students use educational software to simulate the experiment, they can perform the experiments as many times as they want until they understand the basic concepts and experiment procedures of acid-base titration without the risk of hurting themselves and causing environmental problems. 

Another advantage of using simulation software in acid-base titration is that it can allow students to create their own pH curves, which is important because the curve helps students understand acid-base reaction and titration and shows how well the experiment are performed.  To produce the curve, students should use a pH meter and an electrode. However, electrodes are very fragile and expensive and high school students do not have sufficient skills to deal with them. As a result, students learn pH curves not from their experiments, but only from textbooks. 

One more benefit is that software can provide various chemicals allowing students to choose many sets of acids and bases for their experiment.  Usually teachers only provide  a strong acid and a strong base since this set of acid and base produces the most predictable result.  Performing virtual titration lab with various set of acids and bases in short time would help students find similarities and differences between different combinations of strong and weak acid-base. 

With all the significance described above, it seems worthwhile to introduce to high school students a computer program that help them understand acid-base titration and its lab procedures. In this study, I developed an Internet-based simulation program of acid-base titration and let students use it to evaluate how the program helps students learn acid-base titration. 

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