CCE01 - Animations in an Instrumental Methods Chemistry...

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Figure 1. X-ray source in an X-ray spectrometer. Single frame from an animation entitled "X-ray Absorption Spectrometer." Gradient filled background is mercifully not present in the original. Animations in an Instrumental Methods Chemistry Class? Thomas G. Chasteen Department of Chemistry Sam Houston State University Chemistry-Based Animations Why? So why would we interrupt our students' lives by requiring them to study a computer-based animation? Beyond saddling them with the cost of their $90+ instrumental text book, these poor souls are next required to find a modern computer and run a browser, or a Flash Player, or install QuickTime. A color monitor is required and headphones (in a noisy. ..I mean quiet student lab) might even be required. What a hassle for students who are already struggling--usually in their senior year--with a looming graduation, the attendant resumes, probable relocation, existential angst, etc. Why indeed. We all know the reason why these requirements are not so onerous for these young scientists: Instrumental analysis is a computer course. While some instrumental chemical signals might still be feed to an analog (paper-based) chart recorder, for instance from a flame ionization detector signal in a gas chromatograph, the chance of this playing an important part in any of our graduates' futures is insignificant. Obviously gone is the time spent teaching chromatographic integration via the cutting and weighing of paper-based peaks, along with teaching our budding chemists the proper way of handing those small, shiny gram weights necessary to operate chain-operated four-place balances. Gone; all gone. No, instrumental methods of analysis are computer-dedicated methods of collecting data and all that involves, almost exclusively using personal computers networked to one instrument and possibly many.
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How? So once we get over the fear of requiring our students to get as involved as possible with modern computers in their chemistry courses, using computers to help teach specific topics is a natural extension. In my senior-level instrumental analysis course I use animations inside and outside of the course to teach instrumental techniques or particularly important or conceptually difficult points. The advantages of using a schematic movie of the most difficult instrumental method I teach, gas chromatography/mass spectrometry via a Macromedia's Shockwave Flash animation will be briefly discussed below. But first I'd like to introduce an older animation constructed using a simple drawing program and Apple's QuickTime . My use of animation vehicles/programs has been morphing as the program options have changed with time. All of the animations I have created to teach with are listed here in roughly chronological order from the bottom of that page (oldest about 1996) upward in the list to the most recent. In the "early days" the final file's size was one of the most important variables in each project. The
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This note was uploaded on 03/03/2012 for the course CHEM 100 taught by Professor Chasteen during the Fall '06 term at Sam Houston State University.

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CCE01 - Animations in an Instrumental Methods Chemistry...

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