How useful is ChemSpider database for school chemistry teachers?
If you do a Google search for 'ChemSpider' you will find that it is defined as a 'database of chemical structures and property predictions'. Click on the link and you enter a vast interactive library of chemical structures and associated information, with the front page showing 'Molecules of Interest'. The latter change on a regular basis, but at the time of writing, the molecules on show are a series of H1N1 antiviral compounds. These, with their A-level friendly functional groups, could be used to engage students by using a familiar context.
ChemSpider is a gold-mine for teachers who know what they're looking for. If you venture into the realms of large, highly functionalised molecules, the resource gets really interesting. Search for vancomycin, for example, and you can see its structure in its three dimensional Jmol glory, along with its systematic name, which could be used as the basis for a highly challenging lesson starter for A-level students. Another excellent activity or 'game' found in ChemSpider involves working out whether an nmr spectrum matches the structure shown, particularly useful for A-level students or if you want to brush up your own nmr skills.
Antony Williams, head of ChemSpider, and his team at the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) are currently working on ChemSpider Education, which is looking to integrate ChemSpider activities into lesson plans. Williams would like to hear from teachers and their students on how to shape the future of ChemSpider as an educational tool. An iPhone App version is rumoured to be on the 'wish-list' of the development team.
For further information on ChemSpider, contact Antony Williams at the RSC or visit the website