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The Chemistry Maths Lab

Phillip Kent
Organization: Imperial College
Department: The METRIC Project, Department of Mathematics
Philip Ramsden
Organization: Imperial College
Department: Mathematics
David Klug
Richard Templer

The design of the Maths Lab runs counter to the dominant mode of maths teaching for (U.K.) science students, where mathematical topics are first taught in a "pure" form, and later on are applied to scientific problems.

The Maths Lab puts mathematics into use straight away, asking students to use mathematical ideas in the solution of challenging chemical problems. The power of Mathematica makes non-trivial problems, characteristic of chemical research, accessible and tractable.

The Maths Lab forms the main component of a maths course for first-year chemistry students. In addition, a small number of lectures are given to motivate the use of maths in physical chemistry. There are two introductory labs, to develop familiarity with Mathematica, followed by 7 assessed labs, each running for 3 (sometimes 6) hours, and the students must submit a notebook of results by the end of the lab.

The Maths Lab is the result of a long-standing collaboration (since 1994) with Chemistry faculty. History, philosophy and evaluation have been described in a series of articles, all available online at http://metric.ma.ic.ac.uk/articles

  • Vectors - in crystallography
  • Differential equations (numeric and analytic solutions, eigenvalue problems) - in reaction kinetics, classical and quantum mechanics
  • Exact differentials and line integrals - in thermodynamics

*Mathematics > Geometry > Solid Geometry
*Science > Chemistry
*Science > Physics > Crystallography
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*Mathematics Laboratories for Science Undergraduates   [in Articles]