------------------------------
Date: Wed, 25 Jun 1997 09:55:28 -0500
From: Mike Epstein
Subject: Paper 8: ME - Excel versus ????
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The authors of Paper #8 make a good point in stressing that it is more
efficient for students to learn one software package ... although I'm not
sure that it really matters what software package underlies a simulation,
IF it is well-written. A multifuctional spreadsheet like Excel does fill a
number of needs, including simulations, statistical analysis, and data
reduction for large data sets. I also used Excel as the basis for most of
the work in an analytical chemistry class, but not for simulations (for
which I used the O'Haver WingZ spreadsheet templates). My questions are
both for the authors and for the participants in CHEMCONF97:
1 - Could you accomplish with MathCad the same functions as an Excel
spreadsheet, particularly for handling large data sets? (I am not
particularly MathCad literate)
2 - What will benefit students more: a working knowledge of MathCad or a
working knowledge of Excel? From an analytical chemistry standpoint, I
would say that a knowledge of Excel would be far more beneficial. What
about from a physical chemistry or organic chemistry standpoint?
3 - On the other hand, a spreadsheet like Excel hides the calculations and
makes it far more difficult for students to comprehend, while a program
like MathCad presents the calculations in a straightforward and intuitive
manner. So, isn't it better for a learning standpoint for students to use
Mathcad? One might also argue that being forced to enter equations into a
spreadsheet makes the students really think and understand the process,
rather than just copying and entering an equation as one does in MathCad.
4 - Finally, to repeat my musings in the first paragraph, does it really
matter what program underlies a simulation ... at least from a student
standpoint?
ME
Mike Epstein
Research Chemist, Analytical Chemistry Division
National Institute of Standards and Technology
Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899 USA
[Opinions expressed are mine ... not necessarily theirs]
PHONE: (301) 975-4114 FAX: (301) 869-0413
Michael.Epstein@nist.gov
WWW Home Page: http://esther.la.asu.edu/sas/epstein/epstein.html
========================================================
"From tomorrow on, I shall be sad - from tomorrow on!
Not today; no! Today I will be glad.
And every day, no matter how bitter it be, I will say:
From tomorrow on, I shall be sad, not today!"
Motele - Theresienstadt
========================================================
------------------------------
Date: Wed, 25 Jun 1997 10:12:32 -0500
From: "Bondeson, Steve"
Subject: Paper 8-SRB: Too much info?
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Two questions concerning spreadsheets in general:
Excel can generate huge amounts of "information" in a hurry and students
may think that merely producing fifty Van der Waal isotherms, for
instance, gives them an understanding of what's happening in the fluid.
What do you do to insure that students are critically analyzing the
output and coming to some coherent model of nature based on the output?
Secondly, students often assign infallibility to computers and don't
stop to wonder about the correctness of output. What do you do to help
them become "healthy skeptics" of the computer generated information?
Professor Stephen R. Bondeson (715) 346-3714 (Voice)
Department of Chemistry (715) 346-2640 (FAX)
University of Wisconsin-SP sbondeso@uwsp.edu
Stevens Point, WI 54481
------------------------------
Date: Thu, 26 Jun 1997 12:19:40 -0700
From: "Alexey A. Kubasov"
Subject: Re: Mike Epstein
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Here is my answers to Mike Epstein.
"1 - Could you accomplish with MathCad the same functions as an Excel
spreadsheet, particularly for handling large data sets? (I am not
particularly MathCad literate)"
My experience is - Excel is more convenient for teaching
than MathCad:
It is not necessary to spend much time for preparation to use it,
It makes possible to see more information on one sheet and to use
some sheets simultaneously,
It permits to handle graphs easier and to rotate the 3D picture.
Besides this the teacher may write theory on separate sheet
and place the problem's answer on hidden sheet.
"2 - What will benefit students more: a working knowledge of MathCad or
a
working knowledge of Excel? From an analytical chemistry standpoint, I
would say that a knowledge of Excel would be far more beneficial. What
about from a physical chemistry or organic chemistry standpoint?"
I think that MathCad is rather scientific tool. It has more
matematical abilities than Excel but along teaching Physical Chemistry
we must remember that PC is auxiliary means. We may solve practically
any problem form Physical Chemistry using Excel.
"3 - On the other hand, a spreadsheet like Excel hides the calculations
and
makes it far more difficult for students to comprehend, while a program
like MathCad presents the calculations in a straightforward and
intuitive
manner. So, isn't it better for a learning standpoint for students to
use
Mathcad? One might also argue that being forced to enter equations into
a
spreadsheet makes the students really think and understand the process,
rather than just copying and entering an equation as one does in
MathCad."
I do not quite agree that Excel hides the calculations. Entering
the formula we do operations very near to Mathcad. It is possible to do
calculations of parts of large formula in separate columns and see the
intermediate results on graph.
"4 - Finally, to repeat my musings in the first paragraph, does it
really
matter what program underlies a simulation ... at least from a student
standpoint?"
I suppose that it does not matter for students. The choice of program
depends on teaching advantage: easiness, power, clear representation of
calculation's result and teacher taste of course.
A.Kubasov
------------------------------
Date: Thu, 26 Jun 1997 13:20:33 -0700
From: "Alexey A. Kubasov"
Subject: Re: to prof.S.R. Bondeson
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Bondeson, Steve wrote:
> Two questions concerning spreadsheets in general:
> Excel can generate huge amounts of "information" in a hurry and students
> may think that merely producing fifty Van der Waal isotherms, for
> instance, gives them an understanding of what's happening in the fluid.
> What do you do to insure that students are critically analyzing the
> output and coming to some coherent model of nature based on the output?
Every invention of humanity may be good or harm. Very often it depends
on
who and how uses it. I suppose that the main goal of teaching Physical
Chemistry is that students learn to think. How use Spreadsheets depends
on teacher. There are many ways: to pay more attention on number or
curve,
direct or indirect problem, the influence of changing one or more
parameters
of equation on result and so on. Everything depends on teacher and the
level
of students with them he is working.
> Secondly, students often assign infallibility to computers and don't
> stop to wonder about the correctness of output. What do you do to help
> them become "healthy skeptics" of the computer generated information?
Usually I ask to estimate without exact calculations the number or the
shape of curve which students ought to receive after solving problem or
task on PC.
A.Kubasov
------------------------------
Date: Wed, 9 Jul 1997 09:59:05 +0000
From: Patricia Ann Mabrouk
Subject: paper 8, P.A.M., graphing calculators and MATHCAD/Mathematica
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I really enjoyed reading this particular paper and I commend the
author on his selection of problems. These are topics that clearly
benefit from a graphical examination.
My question concerns the selection and identification of EXCEL as the
"universal" program. I am still surprised to find that some of my students
at Northeastern University in Boston have never used a spreadsheet
before. I firmly believe that spreadsheets are valuable tools which
my students will ultimately need to learn to use. However, there are
a number of other programs such as MathCad and Mathematica that
perform similar functions yet in a more intuitive (arguable) way. In
addition, as I have discovered this past year, graphing calculators
such as those of TI and HP are becoming increasingly commonplace and
offer similar capabilities. Thus, I wonder if you have considered
any of the above tools. I am particularly intrigued with the
graphing calculators as they offer the opportunity to explore these
concepts quite literally in the classroom since data and programs can
be shared via a cable which comes with the calculator and since the
instructor can guide the students via a viewscreen (overhead
projector-based screen).
Secondly, how have you handled students who have not had previous
experience with EXCEL and spreadsheets? I would find it helpful
to know how large your class is, whether you have TA support or
not, and what facilities (computer lab? how many computers?) are
available for students to use in completing the assignments ?
Thanks!
Pam :) Mabrouk
pmabrouk@lynx.neu.edu
Department of Chemistry
Northeastern University
Boston, MA 02115
Prof. Patricia Ann Mabrouk
Department of Chemistry
111 Hurtig Hall
Northeastern University
Boston, MA 02115
617-373-2845
fax: 617-373-8795
pmabrouk@lynx.neu.edu
------------------------------
Date: Wed, 9 Jul 1997 10:14:12 -0400
From: Jack Martin Miller
Subject: Re: paper 8, P.A.M., graphing calculators and MATHCAD/Mathematica
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>I really enjoyed reading this particular paper and I commend the
>author on his selection of problems. These are topics that clearly
>benefit from a graphical examination.
>My question concerns the selection and identification of EXCEL as the
>"universal" program. I am still surprised to find that some of my students
>at Northeastern University in Boston have never used a spreadsheet
>before. I firmly believe that spreadsheets are valuable tools which
>my students will ultimately need to learn to use. However, there are
>a number of other programs such as MathCad and Mathematica that
>perform similar functions yet in a more intuitive (arguable) way. In
>addition, as I have discovered this past year, graphing calculators
>such as those of TI and HP are becoming increasingly commonplace and
>offer similar capabilities. Thus, I wonder if you have considered
>any of the above tools. I am particularly intrigued with the
>graphing calculators as they offer the opportunity to explore these
>concepts quite literally in the classroom since data and programs can
>be shared via a cable which comes with the calculator and since the
>instructor can guide the students via a viewscreen (overhead
>projector-based screen).
>Pam :) Mabrouk
We have had this discussion extensively in our department -- the odds are
high that students have access to spreadsheets on their own computers, or
will in virtually every workplace (emplyer feedback) but not to fairly
expensive programs such as MathCad, Mathematica etc. Use of spreadsheets
are considered a must by most employers --- This was a skill identified
by the president of a major corporation that all students should use in
selling themselves to prospective employers irrespective of their degree
--- his point being thast the nature of the degree or particular courses
taken was less important than the various writing, presenting, analytical,
calculating skills etc. that a student has mastered.
Thus, though we use specific Chemical and Computational and statistical
packages at various levels in our courses, we are trying especially for the
second year courses to use Excel for graphing and calculating even though
there may be better scientific graphing packages, mathematical or
statistical packages etc.
Jack Martin Miller
Professor of Chemistry
Adjunct Professor of Computer Science
Brock University,
St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, L2S 3A1.
Phone (905) 688 5550, ext 3402
FAX (905) 682 9020
e-mail jmiller@sandcastle.cosc.brocku.ca
http://chemiris.labs.brocku.ca/~chemweb/faculty/miller/
------------------------------
Date: Wed, 9 Jul 1997 10:47:46 EDT
From: Terrell Wilson
Subject: Paper 8 - RTW: Spreadsheets
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I have not been able to view the spreadsheets in this paper. Should this be
possible? After retrieving the paper from the US address and clicking on the
spreadsheet links, I got a couple of rows of small empty boxes and a few
other squiggles instead of the spreadsheet. Trying the same thing with the
European address gave me a message saying I needed a special viewer, and
trying to download that eventually gave a server error message. Am I just
having software problems on my end, am I doing something wrong, or am I
trying to do something which can't be done? Did anyone else have problems
with this?
Sincerely,
Terrell Wilson
Department of Chemistry Email: RTWILSON@VMI.EDU
Virginia Military Institute Phone: 540/464-7423
Lexington, VA 24450 Fax: 540/464-7261
------------------------------
Date: Wed, 9 Jul 1997 10:55:55 -0500
From: Mike Epstein
Subject: ME: paper 8, Excel, Mathcad and student learning
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I want to second these important comments ... which are precisely why I had
analytical chemistry students using Excel as an electronic notebook, for
calculations, graphing, and statistical analysis. However, since then (and
as a result of discussions resulting from CHEMCONF97), I have had some
second thoughts about using *only* Excel ... because spreadsheets are not
as visually intuitive as programs like Mathcad. If I were to do analytical
again, I would still use Excel as the electronic notebook, but I would also
use Mathcad sheets for instructional and review material. With the small
class sizes I have had to deal with (4 to 9), this would be relatively easy
to implement. In any event, it seems that programs like Mathcad and Excel
are converging, with each slowly taking on characteristics of the other ...
and data is now easily exchanged between the two.
A question was also asked about students who have no spreadsheet
experience. Of course, if simulations are being used, no intimate knowledge
of the spreadsheet is needed. However, such knowledge was required for use
as an electronic notebook. Therefore, the first analytical experiment
given the students was a step-by-step introduction to calculations and
statistical analysis using Excel, in which they rolled four dice (3
conventional and one loaded) and used the results to determine which of the
dice was loaded. This actually ended up far more complex than it sounds,
since they had to do a number of statistical tests and try to determine not
only which die was loaded, but also how it was loaded (i.e., which sides
came up more often and why). It was quite interesting. There was also an
extra credit part where students were given the James Randi Million Dollar
Psychic challenge and could test a friend for ESP (sorry ... couldn't
resist) by having them influence the rolls of the dice. This provided a
little extra incentive for them to learn to use the spreadsheet on their
own. Then, as the semester went on, I became less specific about how they
should use the spreadsheet in their standard quantitative analysis
experiments (balances, gravimetry, titrations, absorption
spectrophotometry, etc. with a heavy emphasis on error propagation and
analysis) ... expecting them to use some innovation and learn on their own.
Some did and some needed a signficant amount of personal instruction ...
which I could do with the small class sizes.
Mike Epstein
>The odds are
>high that students have access to spreadsheets on their own computers, or
>will in virtually every workplace (emplyer feedback) but not to fairly
>expensive programs such as MathCad, Mathematica etc. Use of spreadsheets
>are considered a must by most employers --- This was a skill identified
>by the president of a major corporation that all students should use in
>selling themselves to prospective employers irrespective of their degree
>--- his point being thast the nature of the degree or particular courses
>taken was less important than the various writing, presenting, analytical,
>calculating skills etc. that a student has mastered.
>
>Thus, though we use specific Chemical and Computational and statistical
>packages at various levels in our courses, we are trying especially for the
>second year courses to use Excel for graphing and calculating even though
>there may be better scientific graphing packages, mathematical or
>statistical packages etc.
>
Mike Epstein
Research Chemist, Analytical Chemistry Division
National Institute of Standards and Technology
Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899 USA
[Opinions expressed are mine ... not necessarily theirs]
PHONE: (301) 975-4114 FAX: (301) 869-0413
Michael.Epstein@nist.gov
WWW Home Page: http://esther.la.asu.edu/sas/epstein/epstein.html
========================================================
"Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine"
========================================================
------------------------------
Date: Wed, 9 Jul 1997 11:09:58 -0400
From: Leon Combs Chemistry
Subject: Re: Paper 8 - RTW: Spreadsheets
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
I was able to download the viewer and then I got an explanation sheet from
the authors to the students, but no spreadsheets.
At 10:47 AM 7/9/97 EDT, you wrote:
>I have not been able to view the spreadsheets in this paper. Should this be
>possible? After retrieving the paper from the US address and clicking on the
>spreadsheet links, I got a couple of rows of small empty boxes and a few
>other squiggles instead of the spreadsheet. Trying the same thing with the
>European address gave me a message saying I needed a special viewer, and
>trying to download that eventually gave a server error message. Am I just
>having software problems on my end, am I doing something wrong, or am I
>trying to do something which can't be done? Did anyone else have problems
>with this?
>
>Sincerely,
>Terrell Wilson
>Department of Chemistry Email: RTWILSON@VMI.EDU
>Virginia Military Institute Phone: 540/464-7423
>Lexington, VA 24450 Fax: 540/464-7261
>
>
Leon L. Combs, Ph.D. Tel: 770-423-6159
Professor and Chair, Dept. Chemistry FAX: 770-423-6744
Kennesaw State University e-mail: lcombs@ksumail.kennesaw.edu
1000 Chastain Road http://science.kennesaw.edu/~lcombs
Kennesaw, GA 30144-5591 CARPE DIEM ---- CORUM DEO
------------------------------
Date: Wed, 9 Jul 1997 11:47:29 -0500
From: "Bondeson, Steve"
Subject: Paper 8--SRB: Excel AND Mathematica
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain
Paper 8 nicely demonstrates the variety of things Excel can do and there
is no question, really, of how important it is these days to be able to
use spreadsheets. I've used Excel and Mathematica in tandem for several
years in physical chemistry (lecture and lab) and think the students
come out ahead by knowing and using both. Excel has a certain brute
force approach to calculations that students can quickly appreciate and
use. And it is particularly useful in organizing data. Mathematica
gives students more flexibility, now looks very friendly (Version 3.0 is
a big improvement in terms of its interface), and allows a bit of
finesse in solving problems. The algebraic software shines most when
solving systems of differential equations (matrix algebra) or complex
equations and in doing calculus. Graphic capabilities are also very
nice. Students may not use Mathematica in their jobs later, but it can
really help them in developing an understanding of the material in
physical chemistry.
Our students should have both types of programs in their intellectual
tool boxes.
Professor Stephen R. Bondeson (715) 346-3714 (Voice)
Department of Chemistry (715) 346-2640 (FAX)
University of Wisconsin-SP sbondeso@uwsp.edu
Stevens Point, WI 54481
------------------------------
Date: Wed, 9 Jul 1997 14:03:22 -0400
From: Lutfur Khundkar
Subject: Re: paper 8, JMM graphing calculators and MATHCAD/Mathematica
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
Jack Martin Miller wrote:
> We have had this discussion extensively in our department -- the odds are
> high that students have access to spreadsheets on their own computers, or
> will in virtually every workplace (emplyer feedback)
I like the idea of choosing a tool (spreadsheet, EXCEL) that is widely
used in the workplace for use in the classroom as well. My experience
with teaching the junior level Physical chemistry labs at Northeastern
University has been that given their choice of data analysis software
(custom programs, any reliable commercial spreadsheet or program of
their choice), most (>90%) students opt to use EXCEL. We are fortunate
to have a campus-wide site license for EXCEL. Nonetheless I find that
students generally use their personal copy.
> Thus, though we use specific Chemical and Computational and statistical
> packages at various levels in our courses, we are trying especially for the
> second year courses to use Excel for graphing and calculating even though
> there may be better scientific graphing packages, mathematical or
> statistical packages etc.
>
The advantage of introducing students to EXCEL early can be extended by
using programs with functionality more suitable for the advanced courses
which offer dynamic data exchange (DDE). I am a long time MATLAB user
and one of its fans. Matlab's Student edition comes with the Maple
toolbox for symbolic manipulation, which in principle gives it the same
functionality as Mathcad. Mathworks (the company responsible for
Matlab) also sells an EXCEL link toolbox which allows one to couple the
power of Matlab to the graphical capabilities of EXCEL. Although I am
not familiar with MathCad, I suspect that DDE is already built-in or
will be included in it in the near future.
> Use of spreadsheets
> are considered a must by most employers --- This was a skill identified
> by the president of a major corporation that all students should use in
> selling themselves to prospective employers irrespective of their degree
> --- his point being that the nature of the degree or particular courses
> taken was less important than the various writing, presenting, analytical,
> calculating skills etc. that a student has mastered.
>
I have often wondered how many campuses (in particular chemistry
departments) have responded to the changing boundaries of the workplace
by explicitly making basic computer literacy a requirement for a
Bachelor's degree. I would especially like to hear your
opinions/experiences.
Lutfur Khundkar
Northeastern University
------------------------------
Date: Wed, 9 Jul 1997 14:21:09 -0500
From: George Long
Subject: Re: GRL: paper 8, Excel, Mathcad and student learning
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7BIT
>>Thus, though we use specific Chemical and Computational and statistical
>>packages at various levels in our courses, we are trying especially for the
>>second year courses to use Excel for graphing and calculating even though
>>there may be better scientific graphing packages, mathematical or
>>statistical packages etc.
>>
While its true that most students have access to a spreadsheet, since it is
conveniently packaged with most word processing software, such as MS office,
or Perfect Office, for one low (relatively ) price, I wonder whether this
is what should be driving our choice of software ? Certainly specific
graphing packages work better for graphing and analyzing scientific data,
and why should we pay for all the functions that do interests, amortization,
Pie Charts and other calculations at the expense of difficulty in doing more
typical scientific analysis? Is the view of the CEO that students should be
able to use spreadsheets, or that students should be able to use computers
to analyze data ?
Given that the trend in software is to keep adding more stuff to the
programs, aren't we approaching a point where there may be one generic
program that will do everything, but none of it very conveniently ? Am I
the only one that feels at the mercy of the big software companies ??
****************************************************************************
George R Long, Ph.D.
Department of Chemistry, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Indiana, PA 15705
grlong@grove.iup.edu, http://www.iup.edu/~grlong/
Technology has made the world a neighborhood, now it is up to us to make it
a brotherhood - Dr. M.L. King
****************************************************************************
------------------------------
Date: Wed, 9 Jul 1997 14:48:35 -0500
From: Mike Epstein
Subject: Paper 8: ME: Excel, Mathcad and student learning
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
>Is the view of the CEO that students should be
>able to use spreadsheets, or that students should be able to use computers
>to analyze data ?
Large corporations (and large government laboratories like mine)
standardize on specific platforms and programs for administrative
computing. As far as science goes, the individual scientists (at least
here) can use what they wish. However, Excel has turned out to be the best
overall program for both administrative activities and scientific number
crunching (at least in the analytical area). If the scientists wish to be
compatible with secretarial help (and conversion programs are NEVER 100%
accurate) and division-level high quality output devices (i.e., color
printers), they will use the recommended programs. So, if I have a choice
between two students who want to work here as a summer employee, and one
knows Excel and the other knows Mathcad, guess which one I will choose
(everything else being equal).
>Given that the trend in software is to keep adding more stuff to the
>programs, aren't we approaching a point where there may be one generic
>program that will do everything, but none of it very conveniently ? Am I
>the only one that feels at the mercy of the big software companies ??
The big software companies tend to produce the most bug free and
comprehensive programs. I rarely use shareware anymore, except in the
graphics area. The fact is that I want students that I teach to (a)
understand the material *and* (b) be well-prepared for a career ...
particularly the latter if they aren't going on to graduate school. They
are best prepared by using what most of the potential employers are using.
Mike Epstein
Mike Epstein
Research Chemist, Analytical Chemistry Division
National Institute of Standards and Technology
Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899 USA
[Opinions expressed are mine ... not necessarily theirs]
PHONE: (301) 975-4114 FAX: (301) 869-0413
Michael.Epstein@nist.gov
WWW Home Page: http://esther.la.asu.edu/sas/epstein/epstein.html
========================================================
"Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine"
========================================================
------------------------------
Date: Wed, 9 Jul 1997 14:14:38 -0500
From: "Bondeson, Steve"
Subject: Re: Paper 8: ME: Excel, Mathcad and student learning
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain
Mike Epstein wrote:
>They are best prepared by using what most of the potential employers
are >using.
I must (mildly) disagree with this statement. Learning a technique or
program or convention is easy. What counts is the base level
understanding a student has of the concepts: the broad strokes and fine
details of the science. Will any software provide that? Of course
not--it's the instructor's conscientious prodding the students to
interpret, critique, understand, and wrestle with the output of the
programs that's important. To paraphrase Sherlock Holmes: Computer
output is a useless thing until it's interpreted!
Were I an employer, an applicant's ability to use Excel, MathCad,
Mathematica, et al., would be mostly immaterial--they could learn in a
hurry as needed. Do they know enough science to choose the right tools
is what I'd want to know. We only use these tools to figure out how
nature operates!
>>>Steve<<<
Professor Stephen R. Bondeson (715) 346-3714 (Voice)
Department of Chemistry (715) 346-2640 (FAX)
University of Wisconsin-SP sbondeso@uwsp.edu
Stevens Point, WI 54481
------------------------------
Date: Wed, 9 Jul 1997 15:23:59 -0400
From: Jack Martin Miller
Subject: Re: GRL: paper 8, Excel, Mathcad and student learning
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
>>George R Longwrote:
>While its true that most students have access to a spreadsheet, since it is
>conveniently packaged with most word processing software, such as MS office,
>or Perfect Office, for one low (relatively ) price, I wonder whether this
>is what should be driving our choice of software ?
It is if you have big classes, small numbers of licenses (3 or 10) for the
sophisticated packages (only available in restricted labs) and ~300+ copies
of excel available on Macs and PCs in University wide open use labs --
also a package that is both Mac and Windows compatible is an advantage
since some students will have one or the other - though the fraction with
Macs is declining (campus machines are 50/50).
>Certainly specific
>graphing packages work better for graphing and analyzing scientific data,
>and why should we pay for all the functions that do interests, amortization,
>Pie Charts and other calculations at the expense of difficulty in doing more
>typical scientific analysis? Is the view of the CEO that students should be
>able to use spreadsheets,
yes
> or that students should be able to use computers
>to analyze data ?
also yes
>
>Given that the trend in software is to keep adding more stuff to the
>programs, aren't we approaching a point where there may be one generic
>program that will do everything, but none of it very conveniently ? Am I
>the only one that feels at the mercy of the big software companies ??
I feel like you do about Microsoft, and don't like Excel either, and don't
use it very often for my research but I can afford a selection of better
easier to use stuff -- my students are likely to have Excel at home and
will use it rather than better stuff they have to stand in line for.
Jack Martin Miller
Professor of Chemistry
Adjunct Professor of Computer Science
Brock University,
St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, L2S 3A1.
Phone (905) 688 5550, ext 3402
FAX (905) 682 9020
e-mail jmiller@sandcastle.cosc.brocku.ca
http://chemiris.labs.brocku.ca/~chemweb/faculty/miller/
------------------------------
Date: Wed, 9 Jul 1997 15:24:58 -0400
From: Jack Martin Miller
Subject: Re: paper 8, JMM computer literacy
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
>
>I have often wondered how many campuses (in particular chemistry
>departments) have responded to the changing boundaries of the workplace
>by explicitly making basic computer literacy a requirement for a
>Bachelor's degree. I would especially like to hear your
>opinions/experiences.
>
>
>Lutfur Khundkar
>Northeastern University
We have a university policy that our grads by the year 2001 shall be
"computer literate as applicable to their discipline" -- on investigating
how close to this goal we are since those students are entering now, a
campus wide survey showed that in most disciplines we were close to this
goal now -- Departments vary between having specific computing course
requirements vs having computing components of their own courses.
Jack Martin Miller
Professor of Chemistry
Adjunct Professor of Computer Science
Brock University,
St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, L2S 3A1.
Phone (905) 688 5550, ext 3402
FAX (905) 682 9020
e-mail jmiller@sandcastle.cosc.brocku.ca
http://chemiris.labs.brocku.ca/~chemweb/faculty/miller/
------------------------------
Date: Wed, 9 Jul 1997 16:10:34 -0500
From: Mike Epstein
Subject: Re: Paper 8: ME: Excel, Mathcad and student learning
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
I absolutely agree with Stephen. My statement was a generality and
intended to mean that students were better off knowing than not knowing.
In my experience with job interviews, and I've been on both ends of the
stick a number of times, if the interviewee can strike a common cord with
the interviewer, he or she is at a BIG advantage. That common cord can
easily be (and has been in my case) experience in the use of a computer
program ... and will then lead to further discussion in which the
interviewee can present expertise in the science.
Of course, the base level understanding is important, which is why I felt
that incorporation of a Mathcad (or similar) program into the my analytical
chemistry curriculum would also be helpful in addition to the use of Excel.
I must also disagree (mildly) with Stephen's statement that software will
not provide the broad strokes and fine details of the science. The software
is an electronic blackboard that allows the instructor to educate at times
other than lecture period. When written properly and used with proper
motivational tools, it will allow the student to understand and wrestle
with the concepts.
But it does come down to the individual instructor in the end ... whether
they use a real or virtual blackboard. I would never question that!
Mike Epstein
Research Chemist, Analytical Chemistry Division
National Institute of Standards and Technology
Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899 USA
[Opinions expressed are mine ... not necessarily theirs]
PHONE: (301) 975-4114 FAX: (301) 869-0413
Michael.Epstein@nist.gov
WWW Home Page: http://esther.la.asu.edu/sas/epstein/epstein.html
========================================================
"Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine"
========================================================
------------------------------
Date: Thu, 10 Jul 1997 14:11:06 +0400
From: kubasov
Subject: Re: paper 8, P.A.M., graphing calculators and MATHCAD/Mathematica
Reply to Patricia Ann Mabrouk
First of all thank you for the interest to our paper.
I do not want to declare that EXCEL is the best one. I may say from my
experience in teaching physical chemistry that it is rather universal
because I failed to use it only in one case - to plot concentrations of
intermediates in Lotka - Volterra reactions on 3D graph.
It is rather easy to teach students to use it - usually they work with it
after one or two lessons without troubles.
Besides this EXCEL is a part of Microsoft office and many people have it.
Therefore it is the "best" for me.
My class consist of 8-10 students and we use Pentium-100 and local net.
Alexei A.Kubasov
------------------------------
Date: Thu, 10 Jul 1997 09:25:29 -0400
From: "Dr. Edward W. Vitz"
Subject: Re: ME: paper 8, Excel, Mathcad and student learning
Regarding the generality of spreadsheets: I think that the
current paper describes a valuable approach, based on our experience in a
slightly different context, described below (if you'd like to skip this
lengthy description of our system, suffice it to say that we have success
with spreadsheet use in all our _first year_ chemistry laboratories!)
At Kutztown University, we have been using spreadsheets (first Lotus
1-2-3 and now Excel) for _data acquisition_ as well as data reduction in
our first year General Chemistry laboratory for over 7 years. We have
written Lotus drivers and Windows DLLs to manage data acquisition from
sensors for pH, conductivity, temperature, mass, pressure, Geiger counts,
optical absorbance, and to control stepper motors and even 120 VAC. Six
articles describing the "LIMSport" system have appeared in J. Chem. Educ.
since 1992. Microsoft is giving us fits with trying to keep up with the
drastic changes in driver structure required by revisions of Windows.
Spreadsheets do seem to raise the level of student appreciation for
statistical and graphical methods, and when introduced in the freshman
year, provide a foundation for the use of more advanced spreadsheet
applications (like the ones in this paper) as well as for the use of more
specialized software in upper level courses.
A laboratory manual introduces spreadsheet functions, commands and
general techniques as well as introductory material for typical general
chemistry laboratory experiments. NSF has provided funding for
development of the Excel version (see http://cos.gdb.org for a
description under my name) which we will implement fully this year.
Spreadsheets can encourage understanding at a basic level; for
example Excel's Solver provides a "manual" method of setting up curve
fitting and actually watching a calculated curve approach the curve
representing the data as fitting parameters are varied. I really feel
strongly that they provide much more transferrable knowledge than the
"calculator based laboratories" that are coming in vogue, especially
since the functionality of PCs make them a better buy (calculators can't
connect to the WEB, do word processing or molecular modeling...).
Students react positively. We are a typical state university
with students who are not advanced computer users by any means when they
arrive, but there is little complaint about "having to learn computers as
well as chemistry" in our laboratory. As a matter of fact, three hour
periods on a computer with faculty mentors present (our lab has a 486/66
for each pair of students) is an ideal way to learn. The lab is also
used by students for simulations, CAI, and molecular modeling.
In this application, spreadsheets appear to be ideal. Results of
a more rigorous curriculum assessment (part of the NSF program) will be
reported in about a year.
Best,
Ed
______________________________________________________________________________
Dr. Ed Vitz vitz@kutztown.edu
Kutztown University 610-683.4443
Kutztown, PA 19530 FAX 610-683-1352
------------------------------
Date: Thu, 10 Jul 1997 10:26:45 EDT
From: Donald Rosenthal
Subject: Paper 8 - DR: Seminars and the MSU Curriculum
To: The Authors of Paper 8
I wonder if you can tell us how the "26 seminars and 6 tests . . taught within
two semesters" fit in to the curriculum at Moscow State University.
1. What chemistry courses have students taken before taking the seminars?
2. You mentioned that the class consists of 8 to 10 students.
Are these seminars electives which some but not all students take?
Do all chemistry majors have some familiarity with Excel and/or other
software?
3. What is the format of the seminars? What happens in the seminar?
What happens outside the seminar? Do the students work on Excel
outside class or in class? Do they work by themselves, in pairs or
in groups?
Donald Rosenthal
Clarkson University
Potsdam, NY
ROSEN1@CLVM.CLARKSON.EDU
------------------------------
Date: Thu, 10 Jul 1997 11:03:30 -0400
From: George Shalhoub
Subject: Recall: Paper 8 - GMS: Excel and Mathcad
George Shalhoub would like to recall the message, "Paper 8 - GMS: Excel and
Mathcad".
------------------------------
Date: Thu, 10 Jul 1997 11:07:10 -0400
From: George Shalhoub
Subject: Paper 8 - GMS: Excel and Mathcad
I agree with the comments posted by Mike epstein. I have used Excel and
Mathcad in physical chemistry for the past few years and I can share some
of my experiences here at LaSalle.
Most students know spreadsheet basics but few were proficient in the
"scientific"components such as data fitting and the use of Excel functions.
I provide a short (2 -3 hour) spreadsheet review for my students to make
them aware of the power of these programs. If I have a student with no
prior knowledge, I can give them extra tutoring to get up to speed. Most
students are quick to learn the basics. Spreadsheets are used mainly for
lab calculations and simple, repetitive computations such as van der Waals
isotherms.
For more advanced calculations, I teach Mathcad. I do not cover all
aspects, but in two sessions of 2-3 hours, most of my students become
familiar with the basics of the program. I give them a synopsis of some
Mathcad basics and have them work through some problems. I constantly use
Mathcad throughout the semester. Homework assignments, lab calculations,
and exams are alll done with Mathcad. I have generated a number of Mathcad
simulations that the students can access. These simulations are an integral
part of the learning experience. I have found that this approach makes for
a more active learning environment and also allows students to focus more
on the interpretation of physical chemistry rather than focus on the
mathematics.
George
______________________________
George Shalhoub
LaSalle University
Shalhoub@lasalle.edu
Lasers Pump You Up!
------------------------------
Date: Thu, 10 Jul 1997 17:53:19 -0500
From: Theresa Julia Zielinski
Subject: tjz, paper 8, Mathcad and excell
If I may jump in to the discussion,
Mathcad is a relatively inexpensive software. The student version costs
about as much as a good physical chemistry book. It is powerful enough for
students to use to learn about physical chemistry in an interactive mode.
The advantage of Mathcad is that the text and math are written on the same
page and that this page appears as it would if a student or instructor were
using a pen and paper. It becomes ideal for preparing lab reports. The full
version is less than $150 and this is an attractive price when coupled to
the way the program works.
As others have stated earlier students need multiple computer skills. A
spreadsheet is very important and once you learn one you can quickly learn
another. Symbolic equation software skills may not be so transferable.
As was mentioned by others the specific software is less important than
using it to plumb the subject by constructing sheets that lead to learning
concepts. Computers at least give us the power to effectively transfer
learning interactively to the student. Software makes it possible as you may
all agree to deal with data and complexities that were not possible before
for students. We can get to the science and use real data to do so without
monumental amounts of time to process the data. It is a great time to be
involved in teaching, learning, and doing science.
Cheers
Theresa
PS we use Excel at NU along with Mathcad. Excel may in some ways be easier
for the students.
Theresa Julia Zielinski
Professor of Chemistry, Niagara University
Visiting Professor of Chemistry, U. Wisconsin - Madison
--------------------------------
Date: Fri, 11 Jul 1997 11:08:54 +0400
From: kubasov
Subject: Re: Paper 8 - DR: Seminars and the MSU Curriculum
----------
Questions from Donald Rosenthal
>
> To: The Authors of Paper 8
>
> I wonder if you can tell us how the "26 seminars and 6 tests . . taught
within
> two semesters" fit in to the curriculum at Moscow State University.
>
> 1. What chemistry courses have students taken before taking the seminars?
>
Physical Chemistry begins on 3rd course at Faculty of Chemistry Moscow
State University.
Students studied Inorganic, Analytical and Organic Chemistry before this.
Besides there are
courses on Physics and Mathematics. The main parts of Physical Chemistry
are -
Classic, Statistical and Nonlinear Thermodynamics (first semester),
Phenomenological
and Theoretical Chemical Kinetics and Catalysis as well as Electrochemistry
(second semester).
At the same time students study some courses on Molecular and Matter
Structure.
Academic year starts at the 1 of September until to the end of December
(1st semester).
The second one lasts from the 15 of February until the end of May.
> 2. You mentioned that the class consists of 8 to 10 students.
> Are these seminars electives which some but not all students take?
> Do all chemistry majors have some familiarity with Excel and/or other
> software?
>
Physical Chemistry course consists from lectures (two in every week),
seminars and
practical works (one in every week for each). We have 12 groups of students
(about
twenty students each) and two teachers work with every group. All students
of our
faculty ought to study Physical Chemistry but we have special
"physico-chemical"
group for which this course is more advanced. I am working with this group.
Every student of our faculty studies computers at the first course. They
are taught to
use some languages (FORTRAN, Basic, Pascal) and some program packets
(Microsoft
Office for example).
> 3. What is the format of the seminars? What happens in the seminar?
> What happens outside the seminar? Do the students work on Excel
> outside class or in class? Do they work by themselves, in pairs or
> in groups?
>
Each seminar lasts two academic hours (two times for 45 min). Students and
teacher discuss some theoretical problems and students ought to solve some
problems connected with the discussed theory after that. At the end they
receive
some problems for homework. Usually in every semester we have three
"control
work" on part of course studied before. Many students have PC at own and
besides
this they may work in two PC classes that we have at faculty. Some students
have
rather excellent knowledge on PC and use Excel near for everything not only
for doing home- and practical- work. They work on PC themselves in class
but of
coarse they discuss some problems with teacher and other students.
But not all teachers at our faculty use PC in teaching chemistry.
I try to answer at full length but I am ready to add anything that may be
interesting for you
and other collegues.
Thank you
Alexei A.Kubasov
--------------------------------