Department of Chemistry

College of Letters & Science
John W. Moore

Email address: jwmoore@chem.wisc.edu

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Moore Group
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Chemistry Education

A.B. 1961, Franklin and Marshall College              
Ph.D. 1965, Northwestern University

W.T. Lippincott Professor of Chemistry

Director, Institute for Chemical Education
Director, Project SERAPHIM
Past Editor, Journal of Chemical Education

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Research Description

Current research aims at improving teaching and learning of chemistry by expanding the use of interactive, student-oriented means of instruction. We are exploring the potential of a variety of media through which students can obtain chemical knowledge and intuition, and examining each medium to determine how it can make the greatest contribution to the chemistry curriculum. Unique opportunities are available for students who are seriously interested in teaching of chemistry to broaden that interest by working on a project in chemical education. Instructional technology, both current and future, can provide richer, more diverse environments within which students can learn chemistry than have ever before been available. Many technologies permit, even encourage, an inductive, experimental approach to the subject—students are led to try things, develop hypotheses, and proceed on the basis of their observations, ideas, and conclusions. That is, they are encouraged to act as scientists would act. Opportunities are available for work on new computer software, interactive multimedia materials, computer-based laboratories, chemical demonstrations, and hands-on chemistry activities aimed at both college and pre-college students. Examples of recent work are

  • “Periodic Table Live,” a multimedia hypertext about the elements and their properties that includes video images of the reaction of each with air, water, acids, and base, and includes fifty chemical and physical properties of 103 elements,
  • “Today’s Science for Tomorrow’s Scientists,” Web-based tutorials for middle and high school students that include information about how research is done and why it is important
  • "Nanoscience for Teachers” a Web-based course on nanoscience for high school and middle school teachers delivered using the Moodle course management system,
  • "Chemistry Comes Alive!” a series of CD-ROMs that provide nearly instant random access to still pictures, action video sequences, and animations showing a large number of chemical demonstrations and laboratory techniques close up so that the chemistry is the center of attention, and
  • An online textbook of chemistry that is freely available to all that is now being used in some courses.

The Institute for Chemical Education (ICE), The Chemical Education Digital Library (ChemEd DL), and Project SERAPHIM provide for interaction with a wide variety of persons who are interested in problems associated with education in chemistry. Often we host visiting faculty and postdoctoral Fellows who provide many new perspectives on chemical education and good contacts for students. ICE is a national center that works to revitalize the teaching of chemistry at all educational levels by forming partnerships among academic, government, and industrial chemists. ICE is currently responsible for the education/outreach efforts of the UW-Madison Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center (NSEC). The ChemEd DL is a collection of online materials for teaching and learning that is part of a larger, NSF-suppored group, the National Science Distributed Learning (NSDL). Several graduate students have prepared instructional materials that are now part of the ChemEd DL collections. Project SERAPHIM develops new kinds of software and new applications of technology in teaching.

Awards and Honors

Van Hise Outreach Teaching Award, UW-Madison 2016
Fellow, American Chemical Society 2009
International Award for Outstanding Multimedia Work for Teaching Chemistry, Pirelli Corporation 2007
Underkofler Award for Excellence in Teaching, UW System 1995
George C. Pimentel Award in Chemical Education, American Chemical Society 1991