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2006 Spring ConfChem: Web-Based Applications for Chemical Education: Experiences and Visions

05/05/06 to 06/20/06
Robert E. Belford Department of Chemistry University of Arkansas at Little Rock Little Rock, AR 72204-1099 Robert M. Hanson Department of Chemistry, St. Olaf College 1520 St. Olaf Ave, Northfield, MN 55057
Web-based applications have had, and will continue to have, a profound impact on chemical education.  This online conference will bring together a variety of presentations representing recent work in this important field of chemical education.Paper 1A
Schedule of Papers
Paper 1A. Are chemistry instructors and students ready for an internet-based text?
Mark Bishop
(Monterey Peninsula College)
Paper 1B. Progress towards a holistic web: integrating open-source programs, semantic data, wikis and podcasts
Henry Rzepa (Imperial College London)

Marion Cass
(Carleton College)

Paper 2A. JSpecView: Developing spectroscopic representations on the web
Robert John Lancashire
(University of West Indies, Mona)
Paper 2B. Jmol: Open-source molecular visualization and analysis
Robert M. Hanson
St. Olaf College)

Egon Willighagen
(Cologne University Bioinformatics Center)

Nicolas Vervelle, Timothy Driscoll

Miguel Howard
(Jmol Project

Paper 3A. ChemPrep: Self-paced OWL preparation for first semester general and organic chemistry
Beatrice Botch, Roberta Day, William Vining, Stephen Hixson, Peter Samal, Barbara Stewart, David Hart
(University of Massachusetts, Amherst)

Kenneth Rath, Alan Peterfreund

Paper 3B. BestChoice, a model for interactive web-based teaching
Sheila Woodgate and David Titheridge
(University of Auckland)
Paper 4A. Creation of an online stoichiometry course that melds scenario based leaning with virtual labs and problem-solving tutors
David Yaron, Jordi Cuadros, Mike Karabinos
(Carnegie Mellon University)
Paper 4B. JChemPaint viewer and editor applets: Interactive 2D molecular diagrams
Stefan Kuhn, Tobias Helmus, Egon Willighagen and Christoph Steinbeck
(Cologne University Bioinformatics Center)
Paper 5A. Using InterChemNet for lab curriculum development and evaluation
Barbara Stewart, Robert Kirk, Francois Amar, and Mitchell Bruce
(University of Maine)
Paper 5B. The Science of Spectroscopy: Collaborative curriculum development using a wiki
Stewart Mader (Brown University)
Paper 6A. Tools for performing organic reaction mechanisms over the web
ohn Penn
(West Virginia University)

Christoph Steinbeck
(Cologne University)

Ada Casares
(Richard Stockton College)

Paper 6B. The Green Chemistry Assistant: a new concept in web applications
Robert M. Hanson
(St. Olaf College)
Paper 7A. WebMO: Web-based, state-of-the-art, and cost-effective computational chemistry
William F. Polik and Jordan R. Schmidt
Paper 7B. GEMs for chemists: a community-based approach to develop greener education materials
Julie Haack
(University of Oregon)

Irvin Levy
(Gordon College)

Paper 8A. Improving safety comprehension through hypertext: the MSDS HyperGlossary
Robert Toreki (Interactive Learning Paradigms, Inc.)
Robert E. Belford  (University of Arkansas at Little Rock)
Paper 8B. Teaching chemistry with Moodle
Fred Senese
(Frostburg StateUniversity)
Paper 8C. Expanding the role of the organic chemistry teacher through podcasting, screencasting, blogs, wikis and games
Jean-Claude Bradley (Drexel University)

Conference Articles

Abstracts of Papers:

John Penn
West Virginia University

Christoph Steinbeck
Cologne University

Ada Casares
Richard Stockton College


Web-based instructional methods have shown constant advancements in recent years. In the world of organic chemistry, online structure drawing has become possible through a variety of applets and 3-D visualization techniques are beginning to become highly commonplace. The next mountain to be climbed is that of drawing organic reaction mechanisms, and then to have the computer evaluate its correctness. This contribution will focus on the progress towards that goal and the various techniques that might be used to help students draw and to understand reaction mechanisms.

Robert M. Hanson
St. Olaf College


The Green Chemistry Assistant (GCA), , is a collaborative project between St. OlafCollege and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that allows analysis of chemical equations, reactions, and processes in terms of green chemistry, safety, and chemical hazards. Geared toward a broad range of users, the site focuses on single- or multi-step processes for which the balanced chemical equations are known. Concepts such as atom economy, theoretical yield, experimental atom economy, process mass efficiency, and E-factor are explained and are calculated based on balanced chemical equations and experimental quantities introduced by users. In this paper, I will describe the capabilities of this "web application" (as opposed to a simple "web page" or "web site"), how we are using it at the undergraduate organic chemistry level, some of the surprises we have had both in terms of student capabilities and in terms of faculty expectations, and what it offers to the wider green chemistry community.

William F. Polik
Jordan R. Schmidt
Hope College


WebMO ( is a free web-based interface to popular computational chemistry programs. WebMO permits users to build 3-D molecular structures, submit multiple jobs, monitor job progress, and view text and graphical results, all from within a standard web-browser. WebMO overcomes the resource and accessibility challenges associated with traditional GUI interfaces since it is installed on a single server, requires no installation on student computers, and is available anywhere on the internet. WebMO is simple enough for undergraduate computatio

Julie A. Haack
Department of Chemistry, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403

Irvin J. Levy
Departments of Chemistry and Computer Science, Gordon College, Wenham, MA 01984


Green Chemistry is the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances. Often referred to as a form of molecular- level pollution prevention, the incorporation of green chemistry principles into the chemistry curriculum is providing new opportunities to enhance the curriculum and engage a broader spectrum of students in the study of chemistry. A key to gaining broad adoption of a greener chemistry curriculum and sustaining the development of new educational materials is to actively involve faculty from across the country in creating these materials. This paper will describe how the development and dissemination of the GEMs database ( has facilitated a unique, community-based approach to educational materials development that has the potential to both catalyze an exponential increase in the number of faculty involved with and exposed to the green curriculum and provide a diverse and continuously evolving collection of educational materials. GEMs is an interactive, web-based database of Greener Education Materials for Chemists. The database is designed to be a comprehensive resource of educational materials including laboratory exercises, lecture materials, course syllabi and multimedia content that illustrate chemical concepts important for green chemistry.

Robert Toreki
Interactive Learning Paradigms, Inc.

Robert E. Belford
University of Arkansas at Little Rock


Laboratory safety training in many academic programs is restricted to a short introduction to laboratory rules and safety equipment on the first day of laboratory work. Very often, there are few additional safety resources beyond a Chemical Hygiene Plan binder or a generic safety handout. Student comprehension and respect for safety suffers as a result. This presentation will explore how the application of rather simple techniques can inculcate the "culture of safety" that students need to work safely and proceed professionally.

Jean-Claude Bradley
Drexel University


Technology is enabling new ways to channel the relationship between teacher and student. The ability to provide an archive of recorded lectures in rich and convenient formats like screencasts, podcasts and vodcasts enable an instructor to explore additional means to integrate class material through activities such as games, blogs and conversation. This presentation will describe the implementation of such technologies in a university level organic chemistry class. See