Copyright©2012 Aileen Day
The RSC’s objective is to advance the chemical sciences, not only at a research level but also to provide tools to train the next generation of chemists. ChemSpider contains a lot of useful information for students learning Chemistry but there is also a lot of information which is not relevant to their studies which might be confusing and distracting. For some time we have been considering the concept of an educational version of ChemSpider, aimed at students (and their teachers or lecturers) in their last years of school, and first years of university (ages 16-19), which restricts the compounds and the properties, spectra and links displayed for each, to those relevant to their studies. As a result, we are pleased to announce the launch of the Learn Chemistry Wiki which not only fulfils this aim, but also takes it further. This project was developed in a collaboration between Dr Martin Walker at the State University of New York at Potsdam, ChemSpider and the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Education team.
The Learn Chemistry Wiki contains over 2000 “substance” pages which correspond to simple compounds that would commonly be encountered during the last years of school and first years of University. Each of these pages corresponds to a ChemSpider compound, from which it dynamically retrieves compound images, a summary of its properties(molecular formula, mass, IUPAC name, appearance, melting and boiling points, solubility, etc.) and links to view safety sheets and spectra. It also contains text from Wikipedia to display in the substance page based on the Wikipedia links in ChemSpider.
The Learn Chemistry Wiki also goes a step further and not only contains compound information in isolation but also contains laboratory experiments (with parallel sections which contain an overview, teachers’ notes and students’ handouts) for each, quizzes, and tutorials which are linked to the compound information to put them into context. The wiki is based on the MediaWiki platform (which allows multiple users to contribute collaboratively since the website is intended to be a community website), but extends it to incorporate functionality similar to that of ChemSpider, invoked via custom-made extensions. For example, it is possible to draw structures using GGA’s Ketcher in order to find structures, or to draw answers to quiz questions (for example to specify the product of a particular reaction). It is also possible to include an interactive spectrum retrieved from ChemSpider in any wiki page, using the ChemDoodle spectrum viewing widget in browsers which support canvases or JSpecView applet in those that don’t.
For an overview and demonstration of the Learn Chemistry Wiki site see the Learn Chemistry Wiki site tour webppage or the Learn Chemistry Wiki overview demo video:
The Learn Chemistry Wiki is part of the new RSC’s new Learn Chemistry platform which provides a central access point and search facility to make it easier to access the various different RSC teaching resources that it provides.