See the ChemSense home for the most
recent news items. Past news items are recorded here.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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
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.
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).