Product Review of MEL Chemistry VR Lessons
MEL Chemistry VR Lessons introduces key concepts such as atomic structures, periodic trends, isotopes, and electron configurations. Each lesson contains a narrated video followed by a few multiple-choice questions that check for understanding. After learning to name the orbitals, learners are asked a question like “How many electrons can share the same orbital?” and get immediate feedback.
To use MEL Chemistry VR Lessons, learners will need a virtual reality (VR) viewer such as Google Cardboard that fits a handheld iPhone or Android device — or a VR headset such as Google Daydream, Oculus Go, or Gear VR. One lesson pack is available free; additional lesson packs can be purchased for $9.95 each. Families who subscribe to MEL Science for $34.90 a month get the VR lesson packs along with the MEL Chemistry sets.
Teachers can best use MEL Chemistry VR Lessons as a hook for individual learners who are motivated by virtual reality. Students who haven’t previously used VR viewers will need support identifying the metal ring to select items on a screen. Use one of the sample videos on the MEL Science website to help learners understand how to interact with the lessons.
MEL Chemistry VR Lessons draws kids in with the excitement of virtual reality. Students can literally look around their virtual chemistry lab and select a lesson. However, the initial buzz of excitement that VR brings to the classroom fades quickly: The only way to interact with the material is through single clicks. Students get frustrated because they can’t drag and drop or spin the atoms themselves. A different tool, Happy Atoms, combines physical models with the ability to manipulate the molecule learners have created.
MEL Chemistry VR Lessons uses VR technology to help kids clearly see scale, a major Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Science and Engineering Practice. These activities are fairly didactic, with little opportunity for learners to notice and make sense of patterns. An alternative tool, Collisions: Play Chemistry, uses engaging puzzles to help learners figure out chemistry principles themselves.
Overall User Consensus About the App
Though kids are excited to use virtual reality technology, they’re limited to single-click interactions with the material.
Curriculum and Instruction
Lessons are accurate and direct, but there are limited opportunities for deep conceptual understanding of chemistry content.
Students get immediate feedback for selected response questions. A companion app and website provides opportunities to engage in classroom experiments.