About the Physical Chemistry Symbolic Mathematics Document Site

Information About Documents at This Site

As the use of commercial equation editors, symbolic software and spreadsheet programs becomes more wide spread, appreciated, and implemented in the physical chemistry curriculum and computer facilities become more readily available the interest in using software as an integral part of student instruction increases. This creates a situation in which an instructor finds it increasingly necessary to develop new materials that use these products in order to keep the course modern and to more effectively engage the students to construct their content knowledge base in the subject.

This is a working Web site. Documents presented here have been developed over the past nine years. Most of the documents are fundamental studies in traditional and modern physical chemistry; the content does not age and thus the older files are still relevant for those learning physical chemistry for the first time. Other documents are advanced treatments of topics suitable for senior level undergraduates or first year graduate students.

New files are added regularly. Suggestions for improvements to these documents will be cheerfully accepted. Readers are free to contact the authors for questions and suggestions. Ideas for new documents and/or the documents themselves are welcome. We can do more and do it better if we work together.

The collection contains many peer reviewed documents that are also available online at the Journal of Chemical Education. These documents are presented here with the permission of the Journal.

The documents at this site are also being added to the growing collection of chemistry items in the National Digital Library.

The Need

This Web page provides links to Symbolic Mathematics files created using Mathcad, Maple, and Mathematica, Adobe Acrobat copies of the active files, and pointers to other sources of Symbolic Mathematics documents. Some files are available in Mathcad and Mathematica formats. Many of the Mathcad files at this site can be opened with Mathcad_6.0_Plus or higher versions of Mathcad. Mathematica files are being created with Mathematica 5. Save the file of your choice to your hard disk for examination 'off-line'.

The aim of this web site is to collect and disseminate good quality symbolic mathematics documents that will appeal to a wide range of the instructors and instructional schemes. Mathcad and Mathematica documents that span the physical chemistry curriculum will be collected here to form a document bank that will serve as a resource for teachers and students. Some documents will exist in two or more symbolic mathematics formats.

Recognition of the fact that it is impossible or extremely difficult for one teacher to create and maintain a full spectrum of documents in addition to other teaching responsibilities motivates the construction and maintenance of this document bank. Here the tools that can be use directly in a course or adapted into new documents that meet specific local instructional needs will be collected. Colleagues are encourage to add their materials to this collection for wider dissemination. All materials are peer reviewed by the curator of this collection.

Site Motto

The motto for this project is that we can do more and do it better if we work together. In other words, `many hands make light work.'

Aims and Scope

This web site will contain Mathcad documents that span the physical chemistry curriculum including documents that demonstrate physical chemistry concepts in the other areas of chemistry such as biochemistry, inorganic chemistry and organic chemistry. General Chemistry materials are also welcome. All functional Mathcad chemistry documents will be added to the list as the time and energy of the curator permits. The highest priority will be given to documents or URLs that promote interactive student involvement with the material. Documents for advanced students and graduate students are also welcome.

Three categories of contributors are envisioned. In the first category will be the documents that are heavily annotated with respect to chemistry, mathematics and Mathcad techniques. These documents will have the highest degree of functionality with respect to students being able to use them in an independent mode or for lectureless instruction and even distance learning. The second category will contain those documents that are modestly annotated and/or are missing one or more document components. The third category will contain the unannotated functional documents. If the need arises a fourth section containing documents underdevelopment will be added. This section will contain working drafts and the names of the authors collaborating to develop the documents.

It is possible that more than one Mathcad document in the document bank will address the same physical chemistry concept albeit with a different scenario. Several approaches to the same topic provides a mechanism that will permit instructors to find one that will be a closer match to their instructional strategy and the needs of the local student population. Of particular interest are Mathcad documents that would support the studies of independent learners of physical chemistry and their instructors.

Information for Contributors

Send all documents for submission to the Curator, Theresa Julia Zielinski, tzielins@monmouth.edu. All correspondence concerning documents will be by e-mail.

In a separate short ASCII or Word document provide a three to ten sentence abstract describing the document. This abstract should be written to tempt visitors to the site to download your document.

The Curator will, as time permits, help authors to embed pedagogical structure into their documents. The best hint that she can give is that authors imagine themselves as students and anticipate where a topic or part of a lesson may need further elaboration. In general it is not enough to provide a solution to a problem. Chemistry content should be woven into contextual frameworks that will help students to learn the concepts quickly and efficiently. Whenever it is possible the topic should be developed to have a high degree of student interactivity with the document as they proceed with their studies.

The highest priority for placement on the Symbolic Mathematics Web page will be given to those documents that contain pedagogical significance, follow presentation format and include the components listed below.


  • Some essential element that cannot be readily presented in the traditional format.
  • Clear goals and objectives for the student user. Goals are over arching aims of the document. Objectives are the performance criteria that are expected to be met by users completing the study of the material presented in the Symbolic Mathematics in Chemistry document. Performance criteria are measureable outcomes from use of the document.
  • Interactive components that students can use for learning; embedded interactivity is one of the most important components of a pedagogically effective Symbolic Mathematics document.
  • Embedded clear directions enabling students to use the document effectively; hints on how to use the software effectively are especially important for student users.
  • Have have strong pedagogical content in at least one of the following areas:
    • Shows how the subject discussed would fit into the curriculum.
    • Demonstrate an improved presentation of the chemistry content or facilitation of learning of that content by students.
    • Contains some other clearly stated pedagogical component.
  • Be useful to the intended audience:
    • Be original (not duplicate previously published material).
    • Be accurate.
    • Include a bibliography appropriate for the topic. The bibilography should permit further study of the topic by the intended audience. It is envisioned that the primary audience will be the students of teachers who will use these materials in their courses. A secondary audience will be teachers learning new techniques or ways of teaching traditional concepts. Here the power of symbolic mathematics software is a key in the learning process and a tool for moving the curriculum forward with modern methods.


  • A Symbolic Mathematics in Chemistry document should:
    • Include a useful, accurate Abstract, suitable for the web collection. The abstract should clearly present the important concepts addressed by the Symbolic Mathematics in Chemistry document, the pediagogical approach, and suggestions of how to use the Symbolic Mathematics in Chemistry document in the curriculum.
    • Begin with a clear and concise Introduction stating why a reader should take the time to use this Symbolic Mathematics document. The introduction is followed by the goals, objectives, and prerequisites for success with the document. The body of the document should contain ample opportunity for student input and interactivity such as creating animations, reflecting on graphs, creating their own equations patterened after those of the author, exploring mathematical models of physical concepts, developing their own Symbolic Mathematics in Chemistry documents, and writing about their observatons of the activities contained in the document.
    • Recognize and cite recent relevant publications that provide the user with fundamental concepts related to the content of the document.
    • Be concise, but should not sacrifice clarity for brevity. It should be of a length appropriate for its content and the stated goals and objectives of the lessons and activities being addressed. It should be written in clear and proper English, at a level suitable for its intended audience, and contain hints on how to accomplish operations required by the Symbolic Mathematics software that are beyond the average skill of student users.

Suggested Document Format

  • Title
  • Author and Author Affiliation
  • Copyright Statement (see published documents for a typical statement)
  • Author name and pagination in the first line of the footer
  • Abstract
  • Creation Date, Modification Date in a second line of the document footer
  • A statement about the place in the Curriculum and how to use the document written to the student
  • Introduction
  • Prerequisites that would facilitate mastery of the topics and activities imbedded in the exercise
  • Clear statement of the software version required
  • Goal(s) of the exercise
  • Specific objectives of the exercise(s) contained in the document
  • Student warm up tasks prior to starting the major section of the exercise(s)
  • Student tasks frequently imbedded within the document to promote learning and maintain student interest
  • Notes on how to use the Symbolic Mathematics in Chemistry document; these can be written to the instructor who can edit them out of the document before distribution to a class
  • Notes on the concept(s) treated by the document imbedded within the document so that the user can follow the logic of the document
  • A mastery exercise for students to self test their understanding of the concept; no solution to this exercise should be included in the document
  • References to 2-3 standard texts in which students can find a traditional treatment of the topic
  • Closure activities; students should be left with a feeling of accomplishment and completion after using the document.