Where we meet with people making a difference
in higher education and learning.

Episode 6: Devil in the Details

A podcast with Roberto Peverati

We did a survey in the educational literature and noticed that resources for teaching density functional theory, DFT, were out-of-date and even obsolete. Three years ago, we started to collect and analyze potentially interesting resources that could be used in an educational environment.

Our classes at Florida Tech are small, and the class is dual listed with a mix of 50% undergraduate and 50% graduate students. The smallest class was 5 students and the largest was 12. We are a smaller research university, with 5000 students total. We think the course as designed is scalable to a bigger class, because the examples we chose for the laboratory notebook are not that complicated. Creating a course that can be used by other instructors was one of the goals when we designed...


Episode 5: Project Based Learning at UCLA

In this interview with UCLA Professor Alex Spokoyny and his fourth-year graduate student, Mary Grumbles, we discuss undergraduate chemistry projects focused on communicating chemistry and science. The project highlighted be low is for a team-focused, open-ended advanced inorganic laboratory class.

Listen to the rest of the podcast to hear about the other projects: a writing exercise where students produce Wikipedia entries for inorganic chemistry topics and a communication project in a non-major’s introductory chemistry course where students refute scientific“statements” made on Twitter.


Episode 4: Connecting with Chemistry

Compound Interest vs Compound Chem?

When I was setting up the website (Compound Chem) I thought I would get loads of hits looking for information on the economics of compound interest, so I decided to go with Compound Chemistry. As it turns out, I still routinely on Facebook get a message about how to calculate compound interest, so I have to politely point out that they are probably on the wrong Facebook page.

What is it?

Compound Interest is a website on which I make a variety of posters and infographics where I show different facets of everyday chemistry. Highlighting say the chemistry of different foods and chemical compounds or looking at current events and looking at the chemistry behind that. So, it covers a whole host of topics. With this year being the International Year of the Periodic Table (#IYPT2019), I am doing a graphic for every single element along with the...


Episode 3: Magical and Malleable Research Stories: the ChemRxiv platform

The name:  It’s a play on archive. The original preprint serves had a Greek Chi instead of an X, that that was the joke, R-Chi-V, so archive. The website name is pronounced Chem-archive, but the URL is, and as long as you can spell it that’s all that really matters. It’s a cool name but a bit confusing for the non-expert, we recognize that.

What it is: It’s a preprint server. Which is a fancy way of saying it’s a place to put your papers prior to peer review. The research is farther along than what you would give as a talk or seminar, but not quite a journal article yet. It’s in that magical time where the work is mostly a complete story, but still malleable because you can get and implement feedback on it...


Episode 2: A Growth Mindset for ChemEd Research

This is the second of our new “Ideas that Matter” podcasts,where meet with people making a difference in higher education teaching and learning. Listen to the interview at this link.

One of the more interesting parts of building our NSF-funded R&D has been working with and gaining advice from many talented chemistry education researchers. Professor Ginger Shultz of the University of Michigan is the Principal Investigator of a project sponsored jointly by Alchemie and the Michigan Economic Growth Institute,a state-wide initiative to match companies with university-based...


Episode 1: Lab Talk with Jamie Caras

We sat down with Jamie Caras the founder of Sapling Learning, to talk about his journey and what inspired him to build a series of companies working at the intersection of science learning and technology. Here’s an excerpt from the interview.

I was on the typical PhD track at the University of Texas in biochemistry. My PI was a digital artist and I had some background in programming and web development, so we started building molecular visualizations for biochemistry. We called them biomolecular tours, 3D visualizations of active sites and enzymes. We used these to teach biochemistry and we found them really effective. Students loved to see the 3D stuff on the giant screen in the classroom. With a lot of positive feedback, we started getting featured in conferences and winning awards...