A researcher from the Faculty of Applied Science, Universiti Technologi MARA, Malaysia has developed an Excel VBA (Visual Basic for Application) program- GChem. This program was developed to assist chemistry students to learn basic concepts in chemistry and contains five modules: molecular-weight calculator, empirical formula, thermochemistry, electrochemistry and acid base calculations. This is an improvement from a previous version containing only two modules.
Users of the electrochemistry module, can calculate quantities such as the cell potential, the free energy change (ΔG) and the equilibrium constant (K) of a chemical reaction. Glossary of terms, quiz and application of Nernst equation is also included in this module. For the acid base module, users can calculate the pH of a strong or weak acid and a strong or weak base. Users can answer questions in the quiz section and the scores will be displayed. In the molecular-weight calculator module, users can determine the molecular weight of a compound which can have up to five elements. The empirical formula and the molecular formula of a compound can be determined using the empirical formula module. The thermochemistry module will check whether a chemical equation is balanced or not. It will then calculate the standard thermochemical quantities. In this application the “clear button” can be used to clear all entries so that the user can try answering different questions or calculations. The visual basic editor in Excel was used to write all the programming codes. The application is user friendly and it is easily accessible without the need to purchase sophisticated software. Students can conveniently use it from a laptop or personal computer even without Internet connection. An ongoing survey is being conducted to determine the effects of computer-based learning on students achievements in the five modules covered in this application. Additional topics such as gas laws, conversion of units, chemical equilibrium and stoichiometry will be considered for further work.
Topics that include plotting of graphs such as kinetics, acid-base titration and phase diagrams will be also be helpful to students. It is also hoped that students will be motivated to learn how to develop these applications themselves probably as part of their final year projects. Instead of being users, we can now develop our own modules and applications and this should be an added-value for our science graduates with computer
Faculty of Applied Sciences,
Universiti Teknology MARA, Malaysia.