Software for High school students?

D. KIM dkim at NMSU.Edu
Mon Feb 15 17:11:13 EST 1999

Clarke4bug <clarke4bug at aol.com> wrote:
: I am a high school biology teacher in Austin, Texas.  I am interested in
: incorporating more technology into my classroom, however, I am not familiar
: with good software (Windows) that is appropriate for 9th grade students.  Any
: ideas?

I have not used it for this purpose, but . . . .

The RasMol molecular graphics program allows one to view and manipulate
3-D images of molecules whose structures had been resolved by
crystallography.  The data files are available from the Brookhaven
National Laboratory Protein DataBank (pdb.pdb.bnl.gov).  Large
biomolecules can be viewed in a straight structural mode (showing atoms
and bonds) or in a more schematic mode (showing protein structural
features such as alpha helices and beta sheets).  Rotating and zooming is
done using simple mouse actions.  One can quickly learn how to highlight
specific features (e.g. display only the hydrophobic amino acids).

While the details of protein structure may be a bit advanced for 9th grade
students, the ease of use of this program, and its inherently visual
orientation, make it a good introduction to the power of computational
rendering of physical data.

I do not exactly recall the RasMol homepage, but the protein databank
should have a link.  RasMol, written by Roger Sayle of Glaxo-Wellcome, is
licensed without charge for educational and nonprofit purposes.  Kudos to
Glaxo-Wellcome for their decision to keep RasMol freely available!  Atomic
Coordinate files, which are simply text files that enumerate each atom
within the molecule, and their X- Y- and Z-coordinates, are also available
without charge (Your tax dollars at work).

Daniel Kim
dkim at nmsu.edu

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