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2020CCCE Newsletter

  Each year the CCCE hosts online discussions of recent work of relevance to the use of computers in chemical education. The authors of each paper are available to discuss their work with the community on the days assigned to their papers, and both the papers and discussion are archived on our site. You do not need to be a member of ACS, CHED or the CCCE to participate in these discussion, but need to set up a free account by contacting the site moderator, Bob Belford at


Jason Telford, Maryville University of St. Louis

Newsletter Articles

Abstracts of Papers

Bob Belford, University Arkansas Little Rock
Jordi Cuadros, IQS Universitat Ramon Llull
Andrew Cornell, University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Tanya Gupta, South Dakota State University
Ehren Bucholtz, University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis

This paper is about IUPAC project 2018-012-2-0241, the InChI OER, which is an Open Education Resource designed to provide educators and other interested parties with resources, training material and information related to InChI, the International Chemical Identifier.  The InChI OER is an extension of the InChI Trust website that allows people to share and find resources related to InChI. Although the InChI OER is of value to a wide variety of people this paper seeks to reach out to chemical educators and provide them with an understanding of InChI and its role in the practice of science. 


Shuchismita Dutta, Ph.D.; Scientific Educational Development Lead, RCSB Protein Data Bank; Associate Research Professor, Institute for Quantitative Biomedicine; Member, Cancer Pharmacology, Cancer Institute of New Jersey; Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Molecular visualization and structure-function discussions present a valuable lens for research, practice, and education in chemistry and biology. Currently, molecular structural data, visualization tools and resources are underutilized by students and faculty. A new community, Molecular CaseNet, is engaging undergraduate educators in chemistry and biology to collaboratively develop case studies for interdisciplinary learning on real world topics. Use of molecular case studies will help biologists focus on chemical (covalent and non-covalent) interactions underlying biological processes/cellular events and help chemists consider biological contexts of chemical reactions. Experiences in developing and using molecular case studies will help uncover current challenges in discussing biological/chemical phenomena at the atomic level. These insights can guide future development of necessary scaffolds for exploring molecular structures and linked bioinformatics resources.


Elaine Villanueva Bernal, Ed.D. (California State University, Long Beach and MERLOT)
Gerry Hanley, Ph.D. (California State University, Long Beach and MERLOT)

As the COVID-19 pandemic and safer-at-home mandates continue, educational systems around the world strategize on-going student engagement via virtual instruction. Faculty navigate the virtual learning space with a range of experiences, from having taught informal, conversational lectures for decades to being able to flip the classroom. The conversion to an online learning environment over the last several months presents a wide array of challenges, including teaching laboratory courses, academic integrity issues such as cheating on examinations and plagiarism, equitable computing and Wi-Fi access, affordability of course materials, and housing with a quiet place to work and study. Moving the teaching and learning of chemistry online is a complex process and success in this endeavor will take more than what we at MERLOT can review in this article, though we believe we can provide significant support for faculty and institutions.  The goal of this article is to provide the chemistry education community free, online, and easy-to-use resources and services that can help individuals, departments, and institutions move to blended and online modes of instruction successfully. We will also provide a case study of teaching with virtual labs with evidence of its positive impact on students’ learning.


Nathan Turner, South Dakota State University Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
Tanya Gupta*, South Dakota State University Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
Shanize Forte, D. G. Ruparel College of Arts, Science and Commerce, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Sanjay Chandrasekharan, Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Simulations have been found to be effective tools to aid student understanding and improve conceptual connections in several topics in chemistry. Most studies on the use of simulations have student participants from a single institution from a country who are taking high school chemistry or are enrolled in a college chemistry course. This study on the impact of a simulation on student understanding of acids and bases involved student participants from India and USA. Participants in this study had years of chemistry experience and had completed both general and organic chemistry courses at the college level that involved traditional lecture-based instruction and laboratory experiences. The qualitative study included a survey of student attitudes and interview of students pre- and post-simulation instruction on acids and bases. PhET simulation on acids and bases was used for simulation-based instruction. Results indicate that simulation-based instruction improves student understanding of acids and bases. This study also highlights the need for long-term sustained exposure to simulations to address student misconceptions on topics like acids and bases or other fundamental ideas that students find challenging.


Delmar S. Larsen, University of California, Davis and LibreTexts Project, Director

The LibreTexts Project is a multi-institutional collaborative venture developing the next generation of open-access textual educational materials to improve postsecondary education at all levels of higher learning by developing an Open Education Resource (OER) platform. The project currently consists of 15 independently operating and interconnected libraries that are constantly being optimized by students, faculty, and outside experts to supplant conventional paper-based books. A primary goal of the project is to complete the OER textbooks to enable a zero textbook cost option for a American Chemical Society ACS certified curriculum for a Bachelor's degree. This will be the first comprehensive set of ZTC OER textbooks for a STEM Bachelor's degree curriculum. Given that chemistry is a “central science” and plays a supporting role to many other degrees, the complete Chemistry LibreTexts will have broad impact and will be a powerful example for other fields to follow. The project organization entails effort in five teams: (1) The Construction Team, (2) The Harvesting Team, (3) The Technology Team, (4) The Dissemination Team, and (5) the Assessment and Analysis team. The development approach is highly collaborative and expands through the efforts of a growing community, which has been increasingly active in recent years. All are encouraged to participate.


Bob Belford (University of Arkansas Little Rock)
Ehren Bucholtz (University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis)
Elena Lisitsyna (University of Arkansas Little Rock)
David Yaron (Carnegie Mellon University)
Robert LeSuer (SUNY Brockport)
Phil Williams (University of Arkansas Little Rock)

A particularly challenging aspect of the rapid move to online instruction necessitated by the  COVID-19 pandemic was that of providing students with laboratory-based instruction. This presentation will provide a summary of UALR's experience with IOT- enhanced online labs hosted in Google Classroom and LibreText. These were initially used in an accelerated 5 week General Chemistry class offered in the summer of 2020. The lab materials were then restructured in the LibreText OER to enable use by other faculty. The resources include collaborative online activities involving hands-on experiments, virtual labs and simulations from ChemCollective and PhET. In addition, students used both IOT enabled data streams and virtual labs to design actual laboratory experiments, gather data and analyze the results. Students worked in Zoom breakout rooms using Google Docs and Sheets, within Google Classroom, to collaborate and report their results. We will also discuss the topic of safety in online lab environments, and how we used that to engage students.

We will start with an introduction of ongoing Internet of Chemistry Things (IOCT) courses co-developed at UHSP and UALR, that allowed us to develop the IOT-enhanced general chemistry labs. In these courses students learn to use  $35 Raspberry Pi microcomputers to stream data from a variety of sensors  (pressure, temperature, pH,...) to web services such as Google Sheets. This includes building basic circuits and writing Python programs to operate and stream data from the sensors. The instructional material for these courses are posted on LibreTexts in the interdisciplinary course, the "Internet of Science Things" (IOST).  

The final aspect of this work will deal with our broader efforts to advance IOT in chemistry education. We created a site devoted to the Internet of Chemistry Things (  and a Google Group on this topic (IOSTEd), that anyone can join. We wish to organize a future intercollegiate OLCC course on IOCT that would allow instructors with no prior experience with Raspberry Pis or programming to offer this course on their campus. Our hope is to offer such an IOCT OLCC in the spring of 2022, and we are seeking interested faculty who would like to participate.