Colin A. Ashe

Chemistry Education Researcher, Educational Technologist, STEM Curriculum Developer

Looking for beta testers

I’m building a simulation-based mobile game to help students develop a conceptual understanding of chemical reactions.  I hope to get it into the Apple App Store before too long, but before it’s ready to submit, I need some people to help me test it.  Ideally, I would like a group of testers with a mix of expertise in chemistry, from chemistry instructors to total novices.

If you have an iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, or 4th generation iPod Touch, and you’re interested in helping, please enter your name and email address in the form after the break below, so I can follow up with you.  To thank you for your time and effort, I’ll include each tester’s name in the credits page the players see when they complete the game!

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ACS Fall 2012 National Meeting

I’ll be at this year’s ACS Fall Meeting in Philadelphia next week giving both an oral presentation and a poster at Sci-Mix.  Titles, abstracts, dates, times, and locations are all below.

Bright and early on Sunday (!) morning, I’m giving the following oral presentation:

Web-based simulation engine for 2D interactive simulations of molecular systems

Colin A Ashe1, David J Yaron1, Michael Karabinos1, Laura Bartolo2, John Portman3, W. Craig Carter4, Donald Sadoway4(1) Department of Chemistry, Carnegie Mellon University, (2) Center for Materials Informatics, Kent State University, (3) Department of Physics, Kent State University, (4) Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

A particularly difficult aspect of chemistry is connecting atomic level interactions to emergent macroscopic properties. To aid students in developing the intuitions needed to make these connections, we have developed a web-based computational engine for simplified two-dimensional simulations of atoms and molecules. The simulation engine is optimized to give results that well represent the nature of motion and interactions at the atomic scale, as opposed to precise integration of the molecular dynamics. This allows students to controlvarious system parameters and observe the effect of their changes on the visualized atoms, as well as attach charts that provide measurements of important system quantities. The software is modular to allow easy construction of simulations. In this talk, we will highlight the capabilities of our system in general and provide specific examples of simulations created to teach a broad range of concepts like osmotic pressure, interatomic potential energy, and heat transfer.

Sunday, August 19, 2012 08:35 AM
Practical Applications of Using Visualization Techniques in Chemical Education (08:30 AM – 10:50 AM)
Location: Pennsylvania Convention Center 
Room: 112 A

On Monday evening, I’ll be presenting the following poster:

 Advancing chemistry and interdisciplinary STEM education through interactive simulations, computer-facilitated collaborative chat, and novel instructional strategies

Colin A Ashe1, David J Yaron1, W. Craig Carter2, Catherine Chase1, David Adamson1, Laura Bartolo3.(1) Carnegie Mellon University, (2) Massachusetts Institute of Technology, (3) Kent State University, 

I describe a number of recent projects aimed at deepening undergraduate student understanding of difficult and important concepts in chemistry and across STEM disciplines. The longest-running of these projects uses interactive simulations to teach students core concepts related to the behavior of collections of atoms and molecules. These concepts include the energy landscape, entropy, free energy, and how molecular-scale behaviors result in emergent, macroscopically observable properties. Separate investigations are examining the use of an intelligent computer agent to facilitate student discussions about intermolecular forces in a collaborative online chat environment. Additional current studies use a pedagogy based on specially constructed contrasting cases to help students develop a deep understanding of reaction progress and what chemical reaction “equations” mean. Curricular materials and student assessment results will be presented for each project.

Monday, August 20, 2012 08:00 PM
Academic Employment Initiative (08:00 PM – 10:00 PM)
Location: Pennsylvania Convention Center 
Room: Hall D

If you’re also attending the meeting and the subject matter sounds interesting to you, please consider attending my talk or checking out my poster at Sci-Mix.

BCCE 2012

Last week I was at the Biennial Conference on Chemical Education at Penn State, where I presented two talks and was a coauthor on two others.

These are the talks that I presented:

These are the talks for which I was a coauthor:

I plan to post the slides from the talks I presented.  They should be available soon.  If you’d like to see them and they are not yet posted, feel free to send me an email and either request that I email them to you or bug me to post them on the site.



Speaking at TMS 2012

Next week I’ll be attending the TMS Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida, where I’ll be giving the following talk:

Interactive Two-Dimensional Simulations as an Introduction to Core ICME Concepts

Colin Ashe1; David Yaron1; Laura Bartolo2; John Portman2; W. Craig Carter3; Donald Sadoway3

1Carnegie Mellon University; 2Kent State University; 3Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The 2008 NRC report on ICME exhorts universities to incorporate “ICME modules into a broad spectrum of materials science and engineering courses”.  While research- and industry-grade simulations are appropriate for upper-level courses, students in introductory courses would benefit from simulations of simpler systems that clearly convey central concepts.  Combining efforts in MSE, chemistry, physics, and digital libraries, we have developed a web-based computational engine for simplified two-dimensional simulations of atoms and molecules that allows students to visualize and interact with simulations as they run. These capabilities provide a means to introduce students to both the underlying materials science concepts as well as to key concepts from computational science, such as choosing a suitable simulation time-step.  In this talk, we will highlight the capabilities of our system, provide examples of its use with students, and discuss how educators interested in partnering with us might use it in their own ICME modules.

If you’re attending the conference, please consider stopping by the “Integrating and Leveraging Collaborative Efforts for ICME Education” symposium at 11:30AM on Wednesday, March 14th for my talk.