Collaborating with ChemPRIME

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ChemPRIME encourages your participation in any or all of these ways (and perhaps others):

  • Use ChemPRIME in your classes;
  • Edit exemplars or CoreChem sections;
  • Contribute exemplars;
  • Add new CoreChem topics; 

We provide here examples of using ChemPRIME in courses, general directions for using the wiki and editing wiki content, and some suggestions about developing exemplars. Adding new topics requires more consensus among the community members, so we recommend that you contact either the PI, Ed Vitz (, or the co-PI, John Moore (, or both, before proceeding. We are always open to ideas from anyone about ChemPRIME, so let us know what you think.


Using ChemPRIME in a General Chemistry Course

The ChemPRIME wiki can be adopted for a course text. ChemPRIME can be used in many ways:

  • As a conventional text
  • It is easy to create a course schedule with links to ChemPRIME, online Quizzes, or other course resources, as shown in this example course schedule.
  • Some instructors may want to create links to unalterable pages so that course materials cannot be changed while a course is in progress.
  • It is also possible to use ChemPaths as a means of delivering the content in ChemPRIME; ChemPaths allows you to order the textbook chapters and sections in any way you want and provides a convenient interface from which students can access the content.
  • As a repository where students can write wiki Exemplars on topics that interest them.
  • Students can create regular Exemplars as explained below. R. Belford has created a simplified [Help page] for students.
  • Students should be warned against plagiarism, and possibly required to study the Indiana University page on plagairism and take the test on recognizing plagiarism.
  • If that's too intimidating, it's easy to add special pages where students can experiment, by following the Student Assignments link on the home page. Edit a page by adding a link to the new page like this: [[New Page]], open the linked page, then add text to the new page.
  • Another way of working on pages while temporarily shielding them from general use (and searches) is to create them as "user subpages". As usual, add a link like [[User:Name/NewPage]] to your user page, then open the linked page and enter your text.
  • As a vehicle for Peer Led Team Learning (PLTL) exercises where teams of students create wiki subchapters or Exemplars
  • As an ancillary to another text, ChemPRIME may present additional Exemplars are found, or provide an outlet for you to publish your own Exemplars.
  • etc.

General Policies

The policies of ChemPRIME parallel Wikipedia, so the Help:Contents or WikiMedia User's Guide will be useful. Particular screens may be accessed by typing shortcuts like wp:foot (for footnotes) into the search box in Wikipedia; a generally useful page is theWP:mos Manual of Style.

For contributors who prefer written texts, Wikipedia: The Missing Manual [1] is useful. Much of this text is reproduced in Wikipedia help pages.

In terms of general policies regarding the language used within this wiki, we are developing an open discussion and document of points to consider when writing. Think of it as a manual of pedagogical style. This listing of resources can be found at Guidelines for Precise Language.

Wiki Pages

The ChemPRIME wiki contains a large number of pages (also called articles) each of which deals with a single section of the CoreChem textbook, a single exemplar, or some other unit of information (such as this help page). To edit or create a wiki page, you must be logged in. Log in and look around this page to see some features characteristic of nearly all pages in ChemPRIME.

At the left is a set of navigation links, a search box, and a toolbox containing several links. The most important of these are "Main Page" which links to the opening page of ChemPRIME, and "Help", which links to a table of contents for the ChemPRIME help pages.

At the top of the screen, just below your browser's toolbars and right justified, is a dock that contains links to items associated with you. Al but two of these are discussed in the section Communicating with Other Users. The two exceptions are "my contributions", which links to a page that lists all changes you have made in the wiki, and "log out", which logs you out.

At the top of this page are several tabs. The first, with the title of the page, is the page itself. The second, "talk", links to a page on which editors can discuss items on the page and leave messages about the page. The third, "edit", links to a version of the page where you can edit; editing can be done on the wikitext itself, or you can click on "Rich Editor" to use a WYSIWYG editor. The "history" tab lists all saved versions of the page; using "history" you can see how the page looked five versions ago and even revert to that previous version if you want. The "delete" and "move" tabs allow you to delete or move the page. Clicking on the "watch" tab tells the wiki to send you an email any time the page is changed; "watch" can be undone by "unwatch", which appears as soon as you click the "watch" tab.


Each exemplar is associated with a CoreChem topic. Ideally each topic will have at least one exemplar in each of the tracks listed under What is ChemPRIME. From a good exemplar, a student should learn the same chemistry concepts that are in the CoreChem topic, but those concepts should be learned in the context of the exemplar. This insures that a student could choose any track and have no deficiencies in chemistry knowledge—the student would simply have learned the same concepts in a different context, presumably one more interesting to the student.

A good exemplar should have the same prerequisite concept knowledge and concept learning outcomes as the CoreChem topic. This is virtually guaranteed if appropriate CoreChem text is used as the basis for an exemplar. To do so, identify the concept(s) fundamental to your exemplar and then use the Table of Contents sidebar to find the CoreChem section that involves the concept(s). You can paste the CoreChem text into a new page and then edit it to insert information about the context of your exemplar. Details about how to edit in the wiki are available in the Help (left side-bar).

A good exemplar begins with high level, motivating descriptions, questions, or examples and then provides chemical explanations. ( This approach is championed, for example, by E. O. Wilson in The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth, [2]) Often there will be examples, questions, or calculations within the CoreChem text that can be edited to reflect the context of the exemplar.

A good exemplar should take advantage of the exciting graphics, videos, hotlinks, and almost endless resources available on the Web, including ChemEd DL resources.

As an example, consider an exemplar about Trombe walls for heat storage in passive solar houses. (Thermal Mass for Heat Storage is found in Thermodynamics: Atoms, Molecules, and Energy in the section Heat Capacities and track Environmental/Green Chemistry and Sustainability.) The exemplar begins by describing what a Trombe wall is, showing what it looks like with several images, and explaining why it is useful for storing energy for a passive solar house. Then the question is raised whether a wall of water could store five times as much heat as a stone wall (as claimed in Wikipedia). Heat capacity and specific heat capacity are then introduced and the question of water versus concrete is explored using example calculations that involve the same concepts as the example calculation in CoreChem. The similarity between Thermal Mass for Heat Storage and the CoreChem material is evident, but the exemplar is about passive solar design, building materials, and other interesting context.

For detailed information about creating wiki pages for exemplars, relating them to CoreChem topics, including them in tracks, and incorporating graphics, videos, molecular structures, see the Help section under Navigation in the left side-bar.


  1. Broughton, John, Wikipedia: The Missing Manual, O'Reilly, Sebastopol, 2008.
  2. Wilson, E.O.; "The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth"; Chapter 14, W.W. Norton & Co.: New York, 2007.
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