Chemical Education Today
Letters Why Do We Teach Equilibrium Calculations? There are two important questions underlying the correspondence (1) on calculating equilibrium concentrations. • •
Is there any substantial value to students in learning these calculations? Is there value enough to warrant inclusion in the one year of introductory chemistry?
Although I have tortured generations of introductory students with these algorithms, I have searched in vain for a reason for having taught them. Equilibrium is a rare phenomenon except in the activities of chemists in their laboratories. The tiny minority of our students who aspire to be
chemists may need such calculations and can be taught them in physical chemistry, where they can use computer programs to do them rigorously. It is unconscionable that we compel the rest of our students to take time from more important subjects in their one year of introductory chemistry. Literature Cited 1. Silverstein, T. P.; Donato, H. J. Chem. Educ. 2000, 77, 1120– 1121. Stephen J. Hawkes Department of Chemistry, Oregon State University Corvallis, OR 97331-4003 [email protected]
JChemEd.chem.wisc.edu • Vol. 80 No. 12 December 2003 • Journal of Chemical Education