Weekly Molecules; A Cure for the 830 a.m. Blues

The concept of an online molecule of the time period, day, week, or month, as in the case of this column has increased in popularity since the initial Web sites created at a number of British universities in the mid-1990s. The paper, 8:31 a.m. Belly Flop: Attitude Adjustment through Weekly Feature Molecules by Sonya Franklin, Norbert Pienta, and Melissa Fry describes a study of student responses to a molecule of the week program. Some of the results from their surveys of students indicate that the program indeed helps students place the chemistry that they are learning into a broader societal context. Visualizing these molecules in three dimensions helps students who have difficulty going from the two-dimensional drawing to the details of structure and stereo-chemistry. Some of the recent controversy that followed the now infamous comments by Harvard President Lawrence Summers, brought up, once again, the debate over whether men and women have different abilities to visualize in three dimensions. Many of us have seen a lot of evidence that such a difference is not necessarily gender based, but we should be focusing attention on ensuring that such differences are not determining factors for students' success in science. At one time students who could not titrate well were discouraged from becoming chemists. We should make certain that we are not discouraging students for equally unimportant reasons.
Weekly Molecules; A Cure for the 830 a.m. Blues   
(Interactive Simulation (1))