EDUCATION: Molecules on the Move

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Science  20 Aug 2004:
Vol. 305, Issue 5687, pp. 1085
DOI: 10.1126/science.305.5687.1085d

Organic chemistry teaching has come a long way since the days when textbooks supplied 3D viewers for studying molecular structures. The tutorial Mol4D, hosted by the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands, puts organic chemistry into motion with animations that illustrate molecular vibrations, reactions, shape changes, and more. You'll need to download Chime, a free plug-in for modeling molecules, to see most of the movies.

Lessons in the more than 20 chapters include examining the 3D structures of molecules, such as this hypothetical intermediate in the synthesis of left-handed or right-handed compounds, to help explain why chemical reactions can tend toward one pathway over others. An online program lets students draw molecules and animate their interactions.

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