Mt. Everest

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This applet adds relevance to the equilibrium portion of the course and provides an interesting problem solving activity. To get to the top of the mountain before winter arrives, students must derive an equation that relates the necessary amount of hemoglobin to the partial pressure of oxygen at the current and next camp. Everest connects a paper and pencil calculation to a computer simulation of a real world phenomenon. The calculation is challenging but similar to those that the students often solve in the equilibrium part of the course.

The applet illustrates the use of computer simulation to allow students to interact with complex phenomena at an earlier point in a course than would otherwise be possible. For instance, the Everest applet involves a kinetic phenomenon: the body responds to a decrease in the amount of atmospheric oxygen by producing more hemoglobin. Nevertheless, the problem is presented in such a way that students need only understand the chemical equilibrium of a single chemical reaction. The kinetic aspects of the system are handled by the simulation; the student need only wait until the amount of hemoglobin produced by the body is sufficient to survive at the next elevation.

Everest also implements a simple approach to automatic grading. When a student successfully climbs the mountain, the applet sends email (containing an encrypted keyword) to the instructor indicating that the student has completed the assignment.

For your convenience, you can additionally [download] and run this applet offline as a standalone application.