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Innovative Internet Chemistry Lessons Earn Kudos for FSU Professor
09/12/2000

Comic book characters in an atomic diner and experiments that can be conducted over the Internet have drawn attention to a Frostburg State University professor for his ingenuity in using the World Wide Web to teach chemistry.

Dr. Frederick A. Senese, assistant professor of chemistry at FSU, has been twice honored recently for his efforts. In October, he will be profiled in "Chemistry," the quarterly publication of the American Chemical Society with a circulation of nearly 200,000.

This spring, at the Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education EDMEDIA 2000 conference, the editors of the Internet media journal Computer-Enhanced Learning and AACE chose "The Internet Chemistry Set: Web-Based Remote Laboratories for Distance Education in Chemistry," as one of six representative "best papers." Senese's two co-authors are FSU students Christopher Bender and Jennifer Kile.

The paper describes how chemistry experiments - essential to any chemistry class - can be run over the Internet, with controls including adjusting valves or temperatures to change the outcome of the experiment. It gives students the advantages of controlling the elements of the experiment without the risks and expense of being in the laboratory. It also enhances the experience of learning chemistry online. This method provides a full view of the real process and full control of its operations. Students only need a computer with a Web browser.

The article in "Chemistry" was spurred when a writer for the magazine discovered the "Just Ask Antoine" column that Senese writes on the FSU Web site (http://antoine.frostburg.edu/chem/senese/101/just-ask-antoine.shtml) as part of his General Chemistry online course. "Just Ask Antoine" provides a quick way for students to get answers to their questions, plus they can browse the more than 400 questions that have been asked previously.

The "Chemistry" article will also feature information about the Internet Chemistry Set as well as Senese's new project, the Atomic Diner, a comic book on the Web that teaches chemistry. Senese is hoping to have the first installment ready by the time the Chemistry article is published.

Atomic Diner is an interactive program that teaches chemistry using everyday occurrences. For example, if the waitress drops a coffee cup, that is an opportunity for a lesson about energy.

In addition, the program, designed for high school or early college students, decides how the participant should proceed based on how questions are answered, learning as the participant learns. Different characters at the diners exhibit different learning styles, such as visual or tactile, so the participant can maneuver through the program in a way best suited to the way he or she learns.

Senese said the program uses intelligent agents, similar to the helpful paper clip found in some Microsoft programs. Users only need a browser enhanced with Macromedia Flash, a free Web animation program.

For more information about the FSU chemistry program, call (301) 687-4298.

Web Address for More Information: http:///antoine.frostburg.edu/chem/senese/101/just-ask-antoine.shtml

For further information on this release, contact:

Office of News and Media Services
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD  21532-2303

Telephone: 301-687-3171
Fax: 301-687-7589
E-mail: news@frostburg.edu