Learn the periodic table and its properties with Virtual Reality | Technology and Science

Learn the periodic table and its properties with Virtual Reality | Technology and Science
Learn the periodic table and its properties with Virtual Reality 

With Virtual Reality, you may learn about the periodic table and its properties

"Using an immersive environment in chemistry teaching helps students better understand what the teacher is trying to convey in their class."

The way knowledge is presented to high school students is critical to making them fall in love with the subject, no matter what it is.  Science, and especially chemistry, is one of the least favorite subjects of students, due to the large number of concepts, structures and rules that they must know for their understanding.  However, when the student travels virtually and can observe the chemical reaction that happens from within an atom or a molecule, at that moment, he becomes a participant in his own learning process and is therefore motivated.

In my chemistry class I want students to learn in an immersive way by combining all their senses in a single activity.  The interaction that takes place in a virtual reality environment makes students feel like protagonists in each of the activities they carry out.

"The students were able to literally enter the interior of a molecule of salt, water, gas and other substances to observe its structure and understand the explanation of the teacher."

READ MORE: Demeo Analysis: Virtual reality was built to enjoy experiences as enjoyable and one-of-a-kind as this | Technology

Teaching Chemistry with Virtual Reality

The pandemic brought with it many challenges, but also endless opportunities within the digital educational field with the use of technologies and platforms for learning at all educational levels.  After two years, the new normality with blended classes brings us closer and closer to the hybridity of our educational model.  According to Sousa, Campanari and Rodriguez (2021), the use of virtual reality in a hybrid model can enhance the way learning is done, but by itself, it does not guarantee to improve motivation or learning.  A didactic sequence designed by the teacher is required to support the steps and actions to be carried out in each of the sessions.

The use of an immersive environment in the teaching of chemistry helps students to better understand what the teacher tries to convey in his class, since, even if the teacher uses videos, images or molecular models, the level will not be reached. where virtual reality stimulates your senses.  The use of immersive tools has been adapted to be integrated into the classroom, as reported by Anacona, Millán and Gómez (2019), who state that this type of technology motivates students to learn dynamically since it can be adapted to both the didactics as well as the methodologies and contents in the classroom.

READ MORE: Smart Data, Social Networks and Augmented Reality for the Health Sector Success | Technology

In fact, there has been an increase in the use of virtual reality in the classroom since 2015. This is demonstrated in their bibliometric study Campos, Ramas and Moreno (2020) in which they present data from scientific articles on the use of this tool for use in education.  In just three years, studies conducted in indexed journals doubled, going from 86 in 2015 to 161 in 2018. This shows a significant increase in the use of virtual reality in teaching processes.

School Project for Learning Chemistry with Virtual Reality

With third-semester high school students, I carried out a virtual reality project for which I designed activities focused on improving the understanding of concepts related to the internal structure of matter, such as atoms, atomic orbitals, and isotopes.  We also work on topics related to the periodic table, the properties of the elements and their electronic configuration.  To do this, we use the MelVR application, which can be downloaded for free on each student's cell phone, then the cell phone is inserted into the virtual reality headset, for this purpose we use the VIOTEK Specter VR Headset brand.

READ MORE: Memory Enhancing Augmented Reality Technology 

The student could literally enter the interior of a molecule of salt, water, gas or any other substance that was presented to him to observe its structure and understand what the teacher had just explained, or he would first enter the molecular world to explore it and then listen to the teacher's explanation.  In this way, both student and teacher achieved a symbiosis that moved between the virtual and real world.  The motivation, the faces of astonishment and the good results in the evaluations, was what stood out in the chemistry classes in which they worked with virtual reality.

We provided the students with glasses inside which they placed their cell phones to first listen to the explanation of the topic.  While they entered the substances, they got to know the internal structure of matter through the stimulation of all their senses.  Once the topic was introduced through virtual reality, the teaching-learning process was much easier, since, by interacting virtually with the internal structure, they were able to understand abstract topics and concepts more easily.

READ MORE: How to utilise AI to help you promote your product | Technology 

The incorporation of this technology was carried out in two experimental groups and a control group, which received classes in a traditional way using videos and the blackboard for the explanation of each of the topics covered.  The results were significantly encouraging, since, in terms of the average obtained in the evaluations, the experimental groups remained above the control group in most of the activities evaluated.  However, the biggest difference existed in the process of understanding the concepts, for which the experimental groups managed to make much more detailed explanations of the internal structure of matter than the control group.

Finally, in the survey carried out on the motivation in their learning process, the experimental groups expressed that they liked learning chemistry in a different and fun way, through the use of this technology.

READ MORE: In 2022, the most important trends in AI and Machine Learning will alter the timeline | Technology

Virtual Reality Applications for Learning Chemistry

There are several virtual reality applications for learning, which require the use of special glasses to maximize the stimuli that the brain receives, and thus improve the learning process.  Ramirez and Bueno (2020), used an immersive environment through a virtual laboratory application for organic chemistry, concluding that their students improved their understanding of complex topics.  Likewise, they observed that both the skills and knowledge acquired were enhanced with the use of virtual environments, where students were able to interact through the sensations that these tools offer, learning chemistry in a different way.  Through the different applications that are offered on the market, it is possible to find countless of them for the vast majority of chemistry topics, both organic and inorganic.

READ MORE: 3M Futures: Top Trends in Science, Technology and Design | Technology

In the world of virtual reality for learning chemistry there are applications with an excessive cost, however, there are others such as Mel Vr, which I used with my students and which are freely accessible.  This application allows us to observe the atomic structures of the elements of the periodic table, the arrangement of their electrons and their orbitals, which allowed us to delve into the subject of electronic configuration without neglecting the characteristics that predict their properties.  Likewise, Maksimenko et.al (2021) used this same application in first-year university students, to connect the macroscopic and tangible world of common substances, with the microscopic world of their internal structure, achieving an increase in the experiences of learning of their students.  They concluded that the learning of abstract concepts related to atomic structure and the periodic table was improved by using the MelVr app.

READ MORE: The technology that Meta and Apple are pursuing: Smart Lenses with Augmented Reality | Technology

The use of immersive technologies in the classroom has resulted in an improvement in the learning processes and in the motivation of students, which is why it is necessary for more teachers to bring these technologies to their classrooms.  There are several options that do not require large investments and some others may be achievable thanks to the support of NOVUS projects that allow us to implement new strategies to improve teaching processes.

I invite you to explore the use of virtual reality in your courses and share your experiences and learning at the Observatory of the Institute for the Future of Education at Tec de Monterrey.


Anacona, J.D., Millán, E.E., Gómez, C.A.  (20019) Application of metaverses and virtual reality in teaching.  Between science and technology 13 (25).  DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.31908/19098367.4015.

READ MORE: 3 Challenges to the Universal Adoption of AI | Technology 

Campos, M.N., Ramos, M. & Moreno, A.J.  (2020).  Virtual reality and motivation in the educational context: bibliometric study of the last twenty years in Scopus.  Otherness.  Education Magazine.  15(1).  Available at: http://scielo.senescyt.gob.ec/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1390-86422020000100047#ref14

Maksimenko, N., Okolzina, A., Vlasova, A., Tracey, C., & Kurushkin, M. (2021).  Introducing Atomic Structure to First-Year Undergraduate Chemistry Students with an Immersive Virtual Reality Experience.  Journal of Chemical Education, 98(6), 2104–2108.

Ramirez, J.A., & Bueno, A.M.V. (2020).  Learning organic chemistry with virtual reality.  2020 IEEE International Conference on Engineering Veracruz (ICEV), Engineering Veracruz (ICEV), 2020 IEEE International Conference On, 1–4.  https://0-doi-org.biblioteca-ils.tec.mx/10.1109/ICEV50249.2020.9289672

READ MORE: Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality in Retail | Technology

Sousa, R., Campanari, R.A.  and Rodrigues, A.S.  (2021).  Virtual reality as a tool for basic and professional education.  General scientific journal José María Córdova (19) 33. 223-241.  DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21830/19006586.728

Mariela Damaris Urzúa Reyes, Observatorio.tec.mx