CONCORD, Massachusetts, June 24 – The Molecular Workbench software developed by the Concord Consortium was awarded a SPORE Prize, Science Magazine announced today. The Science Prize for Online Resources in Education (SPORE) has been established by the American Association for the Advancement of Science to “encourage innovation and excellence in education, as well as to encourage the use of high-quality on-line resources by students, teachers, and the public.”
The Molecular Workbench is a free, open-source software tool that helps learners overcome challenges in understanding the science of atoms and molecules. Using sophisticated computational methods based on first principles, the Molecular Workbench simulates atomic-scale phenomena and permits students to interact with them. The Molecular Workbench models electrons, atoms, and molecules, which makes it applicable across physics, chemistry, biology, and engineering.
Students from grade five through college can use the software to experiment with atomic-scale systems to learn through exploring accurate simulations. The Molecular Workbench has been used for topics as diverse as gas laws, fluid mechanics, states of matter, phase change, chemical reactions, the genetic code, protein synthesis, electron-matter interactions, and quantum phenomena.
“Our goal in creating the Molecular Workbench was to provide the kind of learning that students gain in a well-designed laboratory experience, but at the atomic scale,” explains Dr. Charles Xie, a physicist and the developer of the software. “That is why we made the simulations accurate and highly interactive, giving students the ability to carry out their own experiments.”
The software also includes an authoring tool that enables educators to create complete learning activities with simulations, text, images, graphs, navigation links, and embedded assessments. Hundreds of these activities have been created and tested in classrooms. Educators are free to download and use complete activities or simulations, or create their own. The Molecular Workbench has been used extensively in all 50 states plus over 150 countries worldwide.
Dr. Robert Tinker, founder of the Concord Consortium and a pioneer in educational technology, commented, “The SPORE prize is important because it draws attention to the Molecular Workbench – and the large collection of simulations and activities made with it. These provide the best way to learn about the atomic world and should be a part of every student’s science experience.”
The development of the Molecular Workbench has been funded by the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
Read the background story from AAAS about the Molecular Workbench creator.
The Concord Consortium, located in Concord, Massachusetts, is a nonprofit educational research and development organization dedicated to igniting large-scale improvements in teaching and learning through technology.