Chem VR

Designing better education experiences.

E-Learning virtual reality application to help university students learn physical chemistry.

image of vr environment with two screen with the kinectic molecular theory equation in front of a glass container with particles inside it.


Product Designer



(5 months)




Adobe Creative Cloud

Google Suite



In partnership with Professor Abraham Wolcott, San Jose State University's E-Campus, our team was tasked to create an educational tool to help students better understand Physical Chemistry principles and formulas.

This immersive tool aims to elevate student comprehension and engagement in this challenging subject.

My Role

I was ux designer on a team of 1 designers, 2 engineers, 2 leads, and 2 stakeholders. I was in charge of the user experience, user interface and designing the assets.

Where my team joined the team

My team was given a prototype and a concept to work with, we were tasked to bring the prototype up and running to be used in the curriculum for the incoming spring class.

hierarchy of the team, two person icons on top in the middle another set of people icons, and on the bottom three people icons

Design Process

diagram of steps of design process, understand, research, analyze, design, user test, then present


CHEM 160 - Physical Chemistry is rated one of the highest fail rate courses in the Chemistry department.

How might we take formulas and make them easier to understand?

  • Gases and Ideal Gas Law
  • Kinetic Molecular Theory
a woman scientist looking at a DNA strand the size of her and books, beakers, and a microscope in the background

Understanding Problems

Research Methodologies

  • Interviews
  • Surveys
  • Secondary Research

Interviewing our stakeholder, subject matter expert was essential to understand

  • learning outcomes
  • specifics of how the formulas interacted with specific variables and the foundation of the course
a person in a vr headset holding controllers in front of multicolor particles floating

Learning Goals

Demonstrating how Gases and Ideal Gas Law and Kinetic Molecular Theory interacted.


Students had two options to run the application

  • VIVE headset for on campus use
  • mobile headsets for check out at home
vive vr headset and controllers

VIVE VR headset

canbor vr mobile headset and controller

Canbor Mobile VR headset w/ controller

Technical Requirements and Constraints


The application was designed to be platform agnostic.

Technical Considerations

The design was informed by students using the mobile version of our application. Since the primarily use case was mobile we had to focus on design considerations for the user base.

The space was created with minimal complexity, this was decided so minimize potential delay that would cause motion sickness.

a person sitting in a swivel office chair with a vr headset on with a cone showing their vision where it is comfortable to put content and arrows around the chair showing where the user would turn

Students would sit in swivel chairs to reduce motion sickness when using phone based VR.


Understanding through interaction

Relationship between volume, temperature, and pressure


userflow storyboard, enter room spawn in front of the chamber and ui appears, change pressure, use the arrows or toggle to change the pressure variable, toggle variable panel, toggle visibility of variable panel, quiz, teleport to quiz wall and have the simulation visible to check your work

Final Design

UI icons

Each variable is managed in its own tab.

v with a bleaker of liquid


K en

Kinectic Energy



T and a thermometer


max boltz

Max Boltz

n particles

Number of Particles

Simulation Visualization

Adjust variables with sliders to see how it affects the chamber

  • Change the periodic element and temperature to see how the particles move and change color.
  • Change the volume of the container and see the particles slow down or speed up.
different colored particles in a container behind a panel with the kinectic energy equation
different colored particles in a container behind a panel with the kinectic energy equation

Light and Dark Mode

Toggle to dark mode to ease your eyes.

image of regular environment

Light Mode

image of dark mode environment

Dark Mode

Onboarding Guide

As part of the application, I created a “how to” guide for students to set up the VR headset

Link to Guide ->


Our team presented the application to our client and he loved it. We ran a beta test with that semester’s students to see how they would feel about the application. The students received it well.

The clients decided to integrate the about page first as it strengthen their credibility and humanize the company.


The project was a great experience using virtual reality to help explain difficult concepts. I learned how to advocate for designs and negotiate designs choices.

I was able to learn how to work educational concepts and engineers creating an E-Learning course.

Where I left Chem VR

We successfully completed the application and ran a pilot test with the current CHEM 160 class. The application officially launched for Spring 2020.

What I would do next

I would have worked to add modules to test students in the interactive space.


In 2021, the project was awarded $1 million of funding to add more learning modules.

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