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Chemical Principles Laboratory (CHEM 181L)

Digital Media ProjectPrinter-Friendly Version

As CHEM 181 and the laboratory unfolds, you will be exposed to a variety of chemistries, some traditional and others on the cutting edge of science. Hopefully, something along the way piques your curiosity and wonder. To explore your ideas and questions about a chemistry topic of interest, you are asked to complete a "capstone" project using digital media. Such a project also allows you to gain experience in several areas critical to scientific success, namely literature research, material and idea synthesis, documentation and presentation of technical material, ability to work collaboratively, and effective use of digital media.

The components of the Digital Media Project (DMP) are listed below:

Project Description

The Digital Media Project (DMP) affords you the opportunity to utilize digital media (e.g. movies, audio, PowerPoint, websites, etc.) to explore and report on a chemistry topic. You have complete freedom to choose the subject, the type of digital media used to convey the subject, and whether the project takes a creative or technical slant. You should carefully consider, however, how your choices of digital media and presentation style might influence the effectiveness of the final product.

Regardless of your choices, the completed project must effectively illustrate the chosen chemistry and should be self-explanatory to a knowledgeable layperson; i.e. the "point" of the project should be clear without explanation. Nevertheless, you should also submit a brief document, creative or technical, describing the chemistry behind the project (2-3 pages, double-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman font (or equivalent), 1" margins). All information sources must be cited and must contain at least two non-web-based references. All web-based resources should be legitimate research references.

An initial idea for your project, the question you intend to address, and a list of your team members must be submitted to and approved by the instructor on or before October 19. This information should be sent via email.

You must meet with the instructor between October 29 and November 2; bring along your project title, a brief outline, a preliminary bibliography, meeting schedule and your media choice. Appointments for this meeting must be made before October 29. You will receive 10 points for submitting all the appropriate documents in a timely fashion.

You will be given the opportunity to share your DMP with other students at a "digital poster session." The digital poster session will be held on November 16 from 2:00-4:00pm in Mechanical Engineering, Rooms 214, 215 and 216. Half the groups will present from 2:00-3:00pm and other half will present from 3:00-4:00pm. You will receive 5 points for effectively presenting your project.

The completed project will be due no later than 12:00 midnight on November 16. The project will be worth 50 points. Submission should be hand-delivered on a CD or DVD.

Project Considerations

  1. You may work alone on the DMP, but are encouraged to work in groups. Clearly, if you are not technically savvy, it would be beneficial for you to team up with others who are; you can perform other, non-technical functions for the group. If you decide to work in a group,
    • the group should be relatively small (4 or less),
    • the amount and quality of work should be consistent with the size of the group; i.e. it should be apparent that each member working on a group project spends the same time and energy as a person working on an individual project (use the examples below as a guide),
    • each group member's role must be clearly defined and conveyed in the final report,
    • each group member must submit an anonymous peer evaluation for all of the other members in the group.

  2. While the utilization of advanced technologies is highly encouraged, the technology alone will not influence the project grade. In other words, a project using a basic form of technology will receive the same grade as one using an advanced technology if both are equally effective in presenting the content.

  3. You should avoid projects which focus heavily on biological processes.  These often involve very complex chemistry which is not well understood, and thus, they are beyond the scope of CHEM 1811.  While you’re welcome to ignore this advice, realize that few projects on biological processes have received high marks.

Project Evaluation (Grading)

The project will be evaluated based on the following point breakdown and criteria:

Original Project Idea — submit an original project idea, the question you intend to address, and a list of your team members to the instructor for approval.
Instructor Meeting points will be awarded for preparing a project title, a brief outline, a preliminary bibliography, a meeting schedule and your media choice.
Digital Poster Session points will be awarded for effectiveness of project presentation.

Final Project points will be awarded as follows:

  • 30 points for chemistry - Is the chemistry illustrated in the project accurate and at an appropriate level and depth? Does it teach something?
  • 10 points for written description - Is the write-up thorough, informative, and well-written?
  • 10 points for quality - Is the project well-constructed and aesthetically pleasing; does it make good use of the media?

Project Checklist

_____ Initial project idea (due by 12 midnight on 10/19)
Instructor meeting (meet between 10/29 and 11/02; arrange meeting before 10/29)
_____ Digital poster session (held 11/16 from 2:00-4:00pm in Mechanical Engineering, Rooms 214, 215 and 216)
_____ Final project (due by 12:00 midnight on 11/16)

_____ Written project description (2-3 pages)
_____ List of group members and their project roles (if applicable)
_____ Group member anonymous peer evaluations (if applicable)

Example DMPs (including reasonable project parameters)
You are free to use any digital media for your project. For course purposes, digital media refers to anything which can be presented on a computer. Possibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • creating a movie — an edited movie, 3-5 minutes in length
    • Chemical Defense Mechanisms (quicktime movie; ~1 minute segment) by Marko Todorovic and Tom Zhou.
         Upside:     This is a very creative video which is interesting and generally does a good job of
                          explaining the chemistry.
         Downside: Some of the segments lack details about the chemistry.
    • Chi-Files Phenomena [quicktime movie; vampire vignette (~19 MB) or full video (~55MB)] by Kevin Collins, Joe Kolb, Veronic Ramos and Chen Song.
         Upside:     This is an outstanding example which is interesting, informative, and extremely well done.
         Downside: None..well that's not true. The full video contains three vignettes, making the complete
                          project very long. But it is so good this was overlooked.
    • Chocolicious (WMA file; ~25MB) by Ian Campbell, Hanel Choi and Julia Drewniak.
         Upside:     This music video is very creative and fun to watch. The lyrics are catchy.
         Downside: The digital project could cover a bit more chemistry but the accompanying paper was great                    at filling in the gaps.
    • Ethanol: Nothing Corny About It (WMA file; 75MB) by Mike Billet, Kevin Brown, Chris Lee, and Dan O'Conner.
         Upside:     This is an great example, combining entertainment with good science. The song at the
                         end is a bonus.
         Downside: None really.
    • COMING SOON! The Science of Superglue: Cyanoacrylate by Sarah Carter, Amanda Lucht and Shannon Sullivan.
         Upside:     This is a super creative project and different from anything else ever done.
         Downside: There could be a bit more chemistry, but what it shows is accurate,
                         interesting and fun.
  • creating a photo collage — a compilation or series of digital photos which "tell a story"; 20-25 pictures or 3-5 minutes in continuous loop mode
  • creating a website — a website complete with links, images, and other interactive elements; 5-10 pages depending on page length
    • Fireflies: Little Glowers in the Night (flash) by William Kim, Kimberely Lewis and Oliver Park.
    • The Sustainable Vampire: Blood Substitutes for the New Millennium (html) by Luis Crouch and Nick Jalbert.
    • marijuana (html) by Jen Cano, Pat Casey, Bowman Dickson, and Jennifer Hsu.
    • Alchemy (flash) by Colin  McCrimmon, Thuan Nguyen, Joshua Nunn and Robert Smithson.
         Upside:     These are all great examples using web-based media. The visual aspects of the sites
                         add to the content.
         Downside: All the projects are a bit text heavy. And, the chemistry could be simplifed and
                         illustrated/highlighted a bit better. The movie in Alchemy is a nice touch.

  • making a PowerPoint presentation — similar to a photo collage but includes text; 10-15 pages or 3-5 minutes in continuous loop mode
    • DNA (ppt) by Mai Hassan, Cal Trepanier and Sarah Tweedt.
         Upside:     This is a nice multi-person project using PowerPoint. The slides are clear, informative
                         and to the point.
         Downside: It's a little technical.
    • Aluminum Recycling (ppt) by Ashley Farmer, Erin Lowery and Megan Pappas.
         Upside:     This is an excellent multi-person project using PowerPoint. The presentation is
                         entertaining and informative.
         Downside: It's a little long. The timed slides make presentation less interactive.
    • A Generation of Hybrids (ppt) by Timothy Whitby.
         Upside:     This is a great one-person project. It is visually appealing and informative.
      A bit more focus on the chemistry would be nice.
  • composing and recording a song — an edited composition having a vocal track (music not absolutely necessary); 2-4 minutes in length
    • PHENYLETHYLAMINE (mp3) by Seth Strawbridge.
         Upside:     This is a cool little jingle about the chemistry of love. It is very creative. The narration is
                         a valuable (and necessary) piece of this project.
         Downside: This format is hard to present and have someone learn something (but it can be
      It's long (~7 minutes).

Robertson Media Center
(RMC) —
provides access to video, audio, and image collections, as well as to media-equipped carrels, group viewing rooms, and classrooms for the viewing of videos of many formats.

Digital Media Center (DMC) — offers equipment and support for the digitization and editing of images, sound and video and assists students with digital projects.

U.Va. Information Technology and Communication - provides useful information and support for many computer, scanning, and web related topics.

© 2004-2013 Michael Palmer