U.S. President James A. Garfield once said that the ideal college consists of a professor on one end of a log and a student on the other end. A network of 16 iBook laptop computers is putting chemistry students and faculty at Denison University in Granville, Ohio, on "the same log" in a way that Garfield could not have imagined in 1881.
Wireless and mobile, the laptops move easily from classrooms to laboratories throughout the chemistry department's two buildings. Biochemistry students use the networked computers to do real-time data analysis, record assay data, transform and plot data points and test the deviation of collected data from expected values. They also can access and manipulate a protein structure database during class, with the professor on hand to help them over hurdles. Students in general chemistry learn to use a spreadsheet for data processing, statistical analysis, graphing and linear regression. A spectroscopy database and software for analyzing nuclear magnetic resonance spectra bring complex concepts to life at every organic chemistry lab bench.
Supported by an HHMI grant, the chemistry department's laptop network has inspired Denison's biology department to create a wireless laptop computer network of its own, scheduled for use during the 2001/2002 academic year. Jennifer Boeth Donovan
this story in Acrobat PDF format.
Reprinted from the HHMI Bulletin,
September 2001, pages 22-25.
©2001 Howard Hughes Medical Institute