Computer Simluations by NYU Steinhardt's Jan Plass, a Catalyst for Chemistry Learning for Urban and Rural High Schoolers


Plass’ research illustrated that students in both urban and rural settings with use of the simulations, led to better performance in chemistry compared to learning without simulations.

Thanks to Jan Plass, kinetic molecular theory can be as easy as making a cup of hot chocolate.

Following a four-year study of 357 rural students, 361 students in urban areas, in a total of 25 high school classrooms in New York City and rural Texas, Plass’ research found that well-designed computer simulations are an effective tool in boosting comprehension of chemistry subject matter including topics of diffusion, gas laws and phase change.

“Our goal was to focus on underserved and underprivileged learners as many of these students were not introduced to important chemical principals in their middle school science classes,” Plass said. “At the high school level in particular, success in science classes is seen as opening doors to science careers as well as promoting scientific literacy – a prerequisite for being an informed citizen. We designed our simulations specifically for those learners whose previous experience of chemistry was very limited.”

The study was funded by a $1.35 million grant by the Institute of Education Sciences to Jan L. Plass, Catherine Milne, and Trace Jordan of NYU Steinhardt along with Bruce Homer of CUNY Graduate Center, to study simulations aimed at enhancing chemistry learning for a broad rang 500

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