Final Project proposal

For my final project, I want to research the role of visualization in science learning and create visual aids for some foundation topics in chemistry. The benefits of visual aids give students a mental model to understand the complex conceptual topics found in science subjects.  There are lots of studies that attempt to measure the appropriate modes of applying visualization without overwhelming students with another level of complexity. I will be working with Prof. Bhawani Venkataraman at Eugene Lang College to develop interactive animations to use in her undergraduate chemistry classes.  These animations will focus on very basic chemical properties, but applied in a context that beginning students can understand and relate to.  In order to measure the success of this teaching tool I will also develop comprehension questions to test students learning before, during, and after seeing the visualizations.

The topic I will focus on is how soap breaks up grease and the role of water during this interaction.  To do so I will illustrate the molecular interactions between soap molecules, oil, and water.  These principals can then be applied to show how the surfectant Corexit was used during the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil.  Corexit acts like a soap, and the hopes were to  break up the oil slicks to small molecules before it reached the shore.

This project will probably be applied in Javascript so that students can interact with different parts while answering study questions.  I believe the scope of this project will extend into next semester so my goals for the final will be to have a clear representation and animation of the molecular model before moving onto larger context.

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