Applications of Technology in Teaching Chemistry

An On-Line Computer Conference:

June 14 To August 20, 1993

Note: The 1993 ChemConf occurred before the World Wide Web was available to the academic community. It was therefore carried out by means of listserv email, with papers in ASCII text format and GIF graphics being available on a FTP and gopher server. This Web page was created after the fact, to aid in locating the ChemConf '93 archival material.

Instructions for participants
Instructions for authors
Background reading

June discussion 260 Kbytes)
July discussion (496 Kbytes)
August discussion (484 Kbytes)
Complete discussion text (1.24 Mbyte)

Post-conference Evaluation


PAPER 1

THE USE OF COMPUTERS IN A JUNIOR-LEVEL ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY - PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY LABORATORY COURSE

Donald Rosenthal, Department of Chemistry, Clarkson University Potsdam NY 13699, E-mail: ROSEN1@CLVM.BITNET

This paper describes how students use computers and computer interfaced instruments in a laboratory course. The experiments and laboratory reports are discussed. The use of word processing, numerical methods, statistical methods, graphing and other software is explained and illustrated.

PAPER 2

FOR LANS SAKE: SUGGESTIONS FOR THE USE OF NETWORKED COMPUTERS IN CHEMICAL EDUCATION

B. James Hood, Dept. of Chemistry & Physics, Middle Tennessee State University, bjhood@knuth.mtsu.edu(INTERNET) or PrfJimHood (America Online)

The use of networked computers has been proposed as a solution to increased computer implementation costs. There are other factors that should be considered when designing and implementing Local Area Networks (LANs). There are two types of LAN configurations: Peer-to-Peer (PtP) and Client-Server (CS) networks. PtP networks allow each computer in the LAN to serve as storage and peripheral connecting devices. CS systems have a dedicated computer that is only used to control access to the software and hardware. Three types of hardware standards exist: proprietary (for example, Lantastic, AppleTalk, Token-Ring), EtherNet (10base5, 10base2, 10baseT), and FDDI (optical). The networks are physically designed into three types of topologies; daisy-chain (each computer connected with a cable in and a cable out), stars (one cable into the cable), and backbones (one major line with individual computers attached to it). When cost, performance and maintenance factors are considered, PtP configurations that run EtherNet in a hybrid active star/background topology are best suited for use in the chemistry classroom and or lab.

PAPER 3

VISUALIZING CHEMICAL REACTIONS

John P. Ranck, Department of Chemistry, Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, PA 17022 Internet: ranck@vax.etown.edu

Conventional (paper) representations of chemical reactions suffer in that they generally show only the atomic connectivity (topology) of the product and reactant molecules. We train students to infer additional information not contained explicitly in these representations such as three-dimensionality, atomic size and steric factors, statistics of bi-molecular collisions, and even the higher-energy transition-state complex. Our representations and our teaching, however, seldom include the facts that the molecular fragments undergo several cycles of vibrational motion during the time of interaction, that the course of reaction depends upon the phase of these motions, and (most importantly) that the molecular orbitals (electron distributions), which are the only factors other than billiard ball dynamics affecting the outcome of the reaction, are constantly shifting in response to both motion along the molecular interaction coordinate and the vibrational motions of the molecular fragments. Three HyperChem "movies" of the prototype SN2 reaction showing both atomic motions and frontier molecular orbitals throughout the course of the reaction are presented together with commentary about features unrecognized by most students

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PAPER 4

CULTURAL DIFFERENCES REFLECTED BY AN INTEGRATED MEDIA CHEMISTRY COURSE - AN AMERICAN/ISRAELI PERSPECTIVE

*Nava Ben-Zvi, **William S. Harwood, *Ahuva Leopold, **Lisa L. Ragsdale, *Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel 91904, **University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742 (201226@UMDD.UMD.EDU)

Telecourses, educational packages with a pronounced video component, have been produced to be used in distance education at the university level. The creation of these courses and access to them is unequally distributed around the world. The limiting factor is not necessarily the availability of materials, but instead the need to adapt the course to the needs of different countries. The first author is the co-director of "The World of Chemistry" telecourse, which had an initial target population of U.S. college students pursuing non-science majors. The telecourse is currently being used by other populations in the U.S. and abroad. At the Open University of Israel, "The World of Chemistry" is being adapted and formally evaluated for Israeli students. Since the course uses a strong Science, Technology and Society approach, it calls for careful tailoring to allow for cultural differences. The Israeli adaptation process is being compared to adaptation processes in the U.S.

PAPER 5

IT'S HOW YOU PLAY THE GAME: Design of an Electronic Assistant for Organic Qualitative Analysis.

Joyce C. Brockwell, Northwestern University, Chemistry, 2145 Sheridan Rd, Evanston IL 60208-3113 jcb@nwu.edu

Organic qualitative analysis is an invaluable segment of our laboratory curriculum, providing an intensive review of techniques and exercising the students' powers of obeservation and deduction. However, grading the work of 275 students each having up to six unknowns is a time-consuming process for the instructor. In response to this problem, a computer program design is proposed which will provide the rapid, high-level feedback on empirical findings required for the students' success in these experiments. While the program is designed to assist by giving the students a critique of their technique and a confirmation of their findings, it must necessarily be designed carefully to require the the laboratory work actually be carried out by prohibiting blind guessing ("dry labbing"). All aspects of such a program's design and its implications will be discussed.

PAPER 6

INDIVIDUAL COMPUTER-GENERATED GRAPHICAL PROBLEM SETS

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Frank M. Lanzafame Department of Chemistry
Monroe Community College 1000 East Henrietta Rd.
Rochester, NY 14623 (716) 292-2000 Ext. 5130
Internet: flanzafame@eckert.acadcomp.monroecc.edu
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A computer program has been written to generate individual graphical problem sets for students in general chemistry. Its purpose is to develop graphing skills through take-home assignments requiring each student to do his own work. Data is generated for several problems including: the equation relating different thermometer systems, Gay- Lussac P-T data, vapor pressure versus temperature data, and radioactive decay/first order kinetic data. Experimental statistical fluctuations are simulated. Answers are calculated for questions accompanying the data. Errors in all quantities are provided using regression errors in slope and intercept and the propagation of these errors to calculated quantities. The generation and use of these problems in freshman chemistry will be discussed. The program runs in QuickBasic 4.5 on IBM PC compatibles. It is expected that the program as well as accompanying questions will be available via anonymous FTP to conference attendees who are interested in obtaining a copy.

PAPER 7

INTEGRATING COMPUTERS INTO THE HIGH SCHOOL CHEMISTRY CLASSROOM

William J. Sondgerath, Chemistry Teacher, Harrison High, West Lafayette, Indiana (BSONDGER@VM.CC.PURDUE.EDU)

A variety of uses for computers in the high school chemistry class will be presented. The effective use of tutorials with sample guidelines that have been successfully used for specific concepts will be shared. For morevaluable sciencing spreadsheets using class data and calculations will be illustrated, along with graphing of data to enhance concept visualization. The data base capabilities of KC? Discoverer in teaching periodicity and the statistical evidence for improved student learning will be given. Concept stories produced on (IBM Storyboard Plus) which are shown on the liquid crystal display, or on individual monitors, can be used to aid in visualization. The Personal Science Laboratory interfacing value and uses will be given, and results and manipulation of PSL data by software will be illustrated if transmission of data on the electronic conference can be mastered. The use of Microsoft Works for classroom management and safety will be shared. The usefulness of Excelsior's gradebook will be discussed.

PAPER 8

USING THE AIRWAVES: A SATELLITE M.S. FOR INDUSTRIAL CHEMISTS.

K.J. Schray, N.D. Heindel, J.E. Brown. and M.A. Kercsmar. Department of Chemistry and Office of Distance Education, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA 18015 (KJS0@Lehigh.edu)

The Department of Chemistry at Lehigh University has initiated a master's degree program by satellite for chemists located at industrial sites remote from the University. The need for this program is evident from the response of companies' continuing education groups. This need arises from the decline in not only the number of bachelor chemistry graduates over the last decade, but also the decline in the percentage of students going on for graduate work. Thus, both chemists realizing the need for an advanced degree for mastery of their discipline and for personal advancement and non-chemists doing chemistry without sufficient background are interested in furthering their education without the necessity of quitting their jobs and perhaps moving. Companies support these goals.

The program has completed three semesters of coursework, enrolled 80 students from 10 companies in 10 states. The satellite program duplicates the on-site program, although it has less flexibility in course selection. The curriculum, course sequences, and number of offerings are being evaluated and updated as our experience develops. The background and nature of the students, the maximization of the use of the available technology, and the successes and difficulties of the program are all becoming clear.

PAPER 9

Staff Development is the Biggest Cost in Computing: Ask For Released Time!

David W. Brooks, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln,

Nebraska 68588-0355 E-mail: dbrooks@unlinfo.unl.edu

Conversations about computer use often include comment about access to hardware and software. In reality, the cost of a powerful computer with content specific software is now a small fraction of a teacher's annual salary. In spite of this, instruction regarding the use of computers -- particularly as thinking agents -- lags. The primary reason for this probably is that the total amount of time needed to become importantly conversant with computers and their software is very significant such that the relative salary cost in this area is still on the order of one or two salary years. Persons participating in an electronic conference probably have paid or begun to pay much or most of this

PAPER 10

PERSONAL COMPUTERS IN TEACHING PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY

Aleksei A. Kubasov, Vassilii S.Lyutsarev, Kirill V.Ermakov, Chemical Faculty of Moscow State University, Moscow, Russian Republic. E-MAIL: LASER@mch.chem.msu.su

The advanced course in Physical Chemistry for students of Chemical Faculty of Moscow State University deals with classical and statistical thermodynamics, kinetics and catalysis. The main aims of using PC are:

We use for this purpose some standard and original programs (chemical equilibria calculations, formal kinetics of chemical reactions, oscillating reactions et al).

PAPER 11

APPLICATIONS OF NETWORKED COMPUTERS AND ELECTRONIC MAIL IN A CHEMISTRY COURSE FOR NONSCIENCE STUDENTS

Carl H. Snyder, Chemistry Department, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33124; CSNYDER@umiami.ir.miami.edu, and James Shelley, Academic and Research Systems, Information Resources,University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33124; JSHELLEY@umiami.ir.miami.edu

Both networked computers and electronic mail have been introduced into a chemistry course for nonscience students. A variety of course materials is available on networked departmental computers including a chapter-coordinated, instructor-written review executed through a commercially available program. In addition, for extra credit students are encouraged to submit their own multiple-choice questions suitable for use on course examinations. Questions may be submitted either on paper or, for additional credit, by e-mail. Students have access to e-mail on work-stations located throughout campus as well as on the departmental computers. Students are also encouraged to use e-mail as a supplement to office visits for communication with the instructor. Details of these applications are described, including the use of student-generated questions as exercises in English composition.

PAPER 12

THE COMPUTER CO-OP: TEACHING ORGANIC CHEMISTRY ON A CONFERENCE IN AN INTERDISCIPLINARY MACINTOSH LAB

by Carolyn Sweeney Judd, M.A.m Faculty, Chemistry and Robert G. Ford, Ph.D., Faculty, English and Director of the Computer Co-op, Central College, Houston Community College System, 1300 Holman, Houston TX 77004 (email: cjudd@tenet.edu)

For 16 organic students in a pilot program at Central College, HCCS, lecture has been replaced by a computer conference. Site licenses (or lab packs) have been obtained for Beaker, Proton Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectrum Simulator, The Schatz Index, and Organic Reaction Mechanisms. Using these programs the students respond to questions posed by the instructor. Interaction takes place on-line between students, as well as between instructor and individual students. PacerForum, the conferencing software, allows graphics and sound transmission to augment the student essays. Student participation is critiqued by both the chemistry instructor and the English instructor, who is the director of the Computer Co-op. Initial results indicate improved chemical comprehension and clarity in written expression. Students come early to class!

PAPER 13

Finite Difference Solution of the Diffusion Equation on a Spreadsheet

Douglas A. Coe, Montana College of Mineral Science and Technology, Butte, MT 59701 DACOE%MTVMS2.MTECH.EDU

Physical chemistry topics involving second order partial differential equations often receive only cursory treatment in undergraduate curricula because analytic solutions of these equations are readily obtainable only for the simplest of boundary conditions. This paper will describe the solution of the diffusion equation on a spreadsheet, using the method of finite differences. The solution will be illustrated for the diffusion of Ar at 25 C through a 0.100 mm thick polyvinyl acetate membrane. Graphical comparison of the spreadsheet and analytic solutions show them to be virtually identical.

PAPER 14

Chemulate! A Simulator of UV/VIS Kinetics Experiments for the Macintosh

Richard S. Moog, Department of Chemistry, Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, PA 17604-3003 (r_moog@acad.fandm.edu)

Chemulate! is a Macintosh application which simulates the use of a UV/VIS absorption spectrophotometer in performing kinetics experiments. This stand-alone application provides the user with the capability to examine the absorption spectra of all reactants and products, and to select all of the initial conditions for a kinetic run (concentrations, wavelength, temperature, etc.). A plot of absorbance vs. time is then generated, which can be printed or exported to other applications for processing. Several files, for both generic and actual chemical reactions, have been created, and it is straightforward to modify these or create more for individual use. A description of the application, its previous use in a Physical Chemistry course, and possible suggestions for its use as an introduction to kinetics in lower level courses are presented.

PAPER 15

MENU DRIVEN PROGRAMMING FOR STUDENTS AND TEACHERS

AUTHOR:

Reed A. Howald, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717,(406)-994-5415 uchrh%planet.dnet@terra.oscs.montana.edu

How does one control a computer for the collection of experimental data in an instructional chemistry laboratory? Computers are useful for the collection of data, for data analysis, for presenting material, and for examinations precisely because they are versatile. However this means that they can do nothing for us without detailed instructions given faultlessly. A few incoming students know some programming, but most students and chemistry teachers do not. One way for our students and colleagues to tell their computers what it is that they want the computers to do is through "control files".

Control files are ordinarily in unreadable binary, but they can be constructed from numbers and text, with sufficient English to be interpreted by human beings. One can write a menu system which even beginning students can use to put together such control files without syntax errors. Two generations of such systems will be demonstrated.


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