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News Archive
See the ChemSense home for the most recent news items. Past news items are recorded here.

January, 2005
All ChemSense software, including the ChemSense Studio Client, ChemSense Server, and ChemSense Animator, has been made freely available to the public for download on the ChemSense web site. Quick-start guides have been created for the ChemSense Animator and ChemSense Server, and the guide for the ChemSense Studio software has been updated. ChemSense PIs are invited to speak at the 2005 Gordon Research Conference on Visualization in Science and Education, Oxford, UK.

December, 2004
The ChemSense Animator, a simple drawing and animation tool that supports the creation of storyboard animations of chemical processes, has been created as a separate, stand-alone application to provide an alternative for users who do not have network access or do not want to manage login accounts.

September, 2004
The NanoSense proposal is recommended for award by NSF. We discuss plans with Foothill/DeAnza and NASA Ames to organize a Winter 2004 workshop to map a full range of nanoscience concepts into a few articulated skill sets required by different career paths. Outcomes of the workshop will include a certificate in nanoscience, supported by NASA, and a report that documents topics that comprise nanoscience education at the high school and community college level, mappings of these topics to national standards in science and technology, a list of nanoscience courses already being offered, and some possible career paths.

August, 2004
Three book chapters, co-authored by former ChemSense principal investigator Robert Kozma, are accepted for publication. These chapters discuss visualization is science education, and compare and contrast a variety of chemistry visualization packages including ChemSense. The ChemSense 3D viewer is improved to allow import and export of a variety of data formats (e.g., pdb, cml, xyz).

July, 2004
Tina Stanford presented ChemSense at the 18th Biennial Conference on Chemical Education held in Ames, Iowa. Analyses of quantitative (e.g., test) data and qualitative (e.g., video and observation) data from our extended classroom study are underway.

May, 2004
We completed our data gathering in 5 classes of one teacher (3 using ChemSense, 2 doing traditional labs) to document and compare changes in student discourse and learning over an entire school year.

April, 2004
An open source 3D molecule viewer, called JMol, is integrated into the ChemSense Studio to allow students and teachers to view, rotate, zoom, and interact with 3 dimensional representations of molecules.

February, 2004
We submitted a full proposal to NSF to extend our curricular framework and create, classroom test, and disseminate 12 to 15 nanoscience activities to help students understand underlying principles, applications, and implications of nanoscale science. This work, called NanoSense, will introduce a much-needed interdisciplinary element into the disjoint high school curriculum and provide compelling, real-world examples of science in action. ChemSense is presented at an AERA roundtable.

December, 2003
Our partner teachers have developed 43 activities in the first two years of the grant. Most of these are available on our classroom activities page. We submitted a pre-proposal to NSF's Nanoscale Instructional Materials Development program proposing to work closely with chemists, educators, and nanoscientists to generate nanoscience activities that build on ChemSense.

September, 2003
The primary focus of our 2003-2004 research is on a single set of 5 classes of one teacher, using a range of tools to investigate the extent to which student conceptual understanding and representational competence changes over the school year. For the lab portion of 12 textbook chapters, each class is either using ChemSense activities (3 classes) or a more traditional set of lab activities (2 classes). All activities were developed by the one teacher.

August, 2003
We've added a new Web interface to ChemSense, called the ChemSense Web Gallery, that allows teachers to view student work from a web browser, create student groups and individual and batch accounts, manage those accounts, and view aggregate data (e.g., number and types of items, number of comments made, number of logins and most recent login, etc.) for individual students and across students. Students can also log in to the ChemSense Web Gallery to view and comment on others work, and change their personal information (e.g., password and email address).

July, 2004
The ChemSense team was invited by Vickie Williamson at Texas A&M to provide a ChemSense workshop for teachers and graduate students attending a 3-week summer 2003 ITS workshop, funded by NSF. (Dr. Williamson had used ChemSense in previous teacher workshops during the summers of 2001 and 2002.) Seventeen students attended the ChemSense workshop. Attendees included a combination of secondary engineering, chemistry, physics and math teachers, as well as graduate students at Texas A & M working on their Masters or Doctorate degree in chemical, science or math education. Teacher learning, curricular issues in chemistry, and student learning difficulties were discussed. Participants also discussed how computer visualization tools in general, and ChemSense specifically, would help teachers teach and students learn some of the especially difficult particle-level dynamics.

May, 2003
Our partner teachers have developed over 30 curriulum activities in the first year. We also submitted a pre-proposal to the Teacher Professional Continuum program at NSF to develop a detailed, testable model of high school chemistry teachers' trajectories of professional development toward effectively integrating molecular visualizations into their teaching.

February, 2003
In January, we released a major new version of ChemSense (2.0) with many bug fixes, usability improvements, optimizations, and new features, based on requests by our high school and university teachers and students, and needs we observed as students used the software in the classroom. See the version history for a complete list of changes. Many more improvements are slated for implementation this spring and summer.

November, 2002
Our teachers are busy using ChemSense on a pilot basis in their classrooms to personally experiment with its use and test their newly developed activities. Over 300 students at Miramonte High School and 100 students at Antioch High School used ChemSense during the fall of 2002. At the University of Michigan, 150 students are using ChemSense in four sections of the Chemistry 210 Structured Study Groups.

September, 2002
Our high school partner teachers have developed 10 new curricuum activities using our activity template. This fall ChemSense activities will be implemented by our partner teachers Nikki, Irene, and Nick at Miramonte High School, and Britt at Antioch High School. A full-semester implementation study at the University of Michigan is also currently underway.

August, 2002
The "Connections in Chemistry" high school textbook (Coppola/Krajcik/Kiste; WH Freeman, pub) is nearing completion, with an expected publication date of December 2003. We are actively exploring with Freeman the option of integrating ChemSense with the text, and in what sort of agreement we wish to establish so that development and service work can be continued.

July, 2002
The Texas A&M Information Technology in Science (ITS) Center for Teaching and Learning used ChemSense during the summer of 2002 in their teacher professional development workshop "Structure and Properties of Matter and Chemical Reactions." This molecular visualization workshop introduced over a dozen high school teachers to ChemSense and three other chemistry visualization packages (RasMol, Chime, and ISIS/Draw). The ITS teachers used ChemSense for three weeks, and gave the system high ratings in term of ease of use and potential to help them and their students visualize chemical concepts.

May, 2002
Several updates to the ChemSense software were implemented this spring, including a complete rewrite of the drawing tool to support "connectivity" using a new open-source framework (jhotdraw), making a double-clickable Mac OS X application, adding support for proxy servers along with a properties panel for editing server and other settings, making export to Quicktime over an order of magnitude more memory efficient, and many more improvements.

December, 2001
This fall, we added the ability to rotate shapes in the draw tool, drag and drop film frames in the animator, and run ChemSense as a stand-alone or network application with a simple double-click install. We also implemented optimizations that improve the speed of the ChemSense environment. The animation tool alone is over 10 times faster when opening an animation and uses much less memory.

October, 2001

ChemSense will be presented at an AERA symposium in 2002 entitled "Collaborative Representations: Mediating Collaborative Learning with External Representations." The symposium will bring together researchers in a variety of domains, including writing, biology, chemistry and mathematics, to explore the impact of representational aids on individual problem solving and the importance of social processes such as collaboration and mentoring to learning.

August, 2001
Sixteen teachers in a Texas A&M Science Teaching and Learning Center Teacher Workshop called Structure and Properties of Matter and Chemical Reactions: Molecular Visualization (Chem 685) used ChemSense and other tools to create animations and molecular visualizations. They gave very favorable evaluations of ChemSense, and also offered useful suggestions for improvements. Ten of the participants are planning to experiment with ChemSense with a small group of their students this fall.

June, 2001
We submitted a proposal to NSF's ROLE program for ChemSense II, which will focus on integrated, sustained classroom use of ChemSense. Our data analyses revealed that San Leandro students who created more drawings and animations in ChemSense showed greater representational competence and deeper understanding of geometry-related aspects of chemical phenomena in their animations (p<.05). We also found that high school students who started out with the most limited representational competence demonstrated the greatest improvement in representational competence over time (p<.05).

April, 2001
We continue to focus on data analysis from two studies conducted in the fall of 2000. Data from the University of Michigan study includes student reports, video of selected teams at work, and final exams for all 876 students in the course, and an online quiz taken by ChemSense students and expert chemists not in the course. Data from the San Leandro study includes pre- and posttests, student reports, video of selected teams at work, and exit interviews.

March, 2001
On March 11, we held an all-day advisory-board meeting with our six project advisors (Carl Bereiter, Andy diSessa, Michael Ranney, James Hovick, Deborah Wiegand, James Huestis) to review our progress and proposed ChemSense II research. We thank the advisory team for their valuable feedback, which we will incorporate into our full proposal for ChemSense II.

February, 2001
We are preparing a prelimary NSF ROLE proposal for ChemSense II, which will focus on integrated, sustained classroom use of ChemSense. We have also redesigned our website look and content, and released the new site in late February.

December, 2000
In December 2000, 19 student teams in two chemistry classes at San Leandro High School used the ChemSense software to investigate solubility through a series of labs on topics such as solution types, effect of temperature and pressure, and gases in liquids. Students created drawings and animations of their predictions and observations, used PASCO to collect and graph lab data, and viewed and commented on their peers' work through the environment.

November, 2000
Our University of Michigan study with students using the ChemSense software is nearing its conclusion and going quite well. Students have selected triads of compounds to examine the structure-reactivity relationship, reviewed their peers' design proposals, collected lab data with PASCO, and are currently creating static and animated versions of their predicted reactions in ChemSense for inclusion in their final report. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas break, we will conduct another study with the ChemSense KBE in a local high school classroom around the topics of solubility and soap-making.

September, 2000
We've made a lot of progress on the ChemSense Knowledge Building Environment and are on target for using the environment at the University of Michigan in October.

July, 2000
We are planning a fall study to explore the role of representations, epistemological thinking, and collaboration on student understanding with 60 of Brian Coppola's undergraduate chemistry honor students at the University of Michigan. Over a period of 4-5 weeks in October, student teams will use ChemSense and PASCO to classify a subset of about 50 unknown compounds by designing experiments and making predictions about bond strength. To meet the goals of the October study, the software development team is busy adding new tools and implementing a new server-based Knowledge Building Environment (KBE) version of ChemSense. The user interface will be shifted to reflect a focus on knowledge objects as well as operations that can be performed on them. Users will be able to specify relationships between knowledge objects (including containership) and browse views of the knowledge space.

March, 2000
We conducted our third set of classroom design studies with Martin Abrams' students at Kennedy H.S. (California). The study involved three classrooms and several solubility activities over 2 weeks. Students completed all activities using our single-user application ChemSense software and created web presentations of their work. Preliminary results suggest that students who constructed their own representations outperformed those who were asked to select from a variety of ready-made representations.

January, 2000
A press release about PASCO's donation to ChemSense went over the wire on January 14. "PASCO Scientific is extremely pleased to be able to help fund an educational program with SRI International's Center for Technology in Learning to provide a better understanding of the chemical sciences for high school and university students," said Eileen Lento, program manager, PASCO Scientific. "With programs such as this, students will have access to a wealth of resources and expertise on which to develop their own understanding for use in technical work."

December, 1999
ChemSense was represented at two events at the Dec 12-15 Computer Support for Collaborative Learning (CSCL) conference held at Stanford University: A ChemSense poster, and in the Worshop on the Design and Assessment of Knowledge-Building Environments. Our second set of design studies took place in December with Judy Larson's classroom in San Leandro H.S. (California), using a new set of activities (around Soap), eChem, and our improved Studio whiteboard and animation tools.

November, 1999
PASCO donated 10 'stations' of probes to ChemSense, for use in the research trials, worth over $15,000. In return, we'll provide Pasco with feedback on how the probes are used by students. By this (in kind) donation, Pasco earns CILT membership.

Our first set of classroom design studies took place in November with Martin Abrams' students at Kennedy H.S. (California). The study involved 3 solubility activities. Teams of 4-6 ChemSense members (e.g., at least one researcher, programmer, videographer, chemist) observed pairs of Marty's students do all the activities using probes and computers (PASCO DataStudio, eChem, and a paint program).
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