Simulating Biochemistry: The eLABorate Project

John Garratt, Jane Tomlinson, Doug Clow

Abstract


We are interested in creating opportunities for students to practice applying their knowledge of science in a way which encourages them to solve the kinds of problems faced by experimental scientists. We accept Bodner's distinction between an 'exercise' (which can be solved by a familiar approach) and a 'problem' (which involves "doing something when you don't know what to do"). Our goal is to create situations which are sufficiently clearly defined for solutions to be obtained, but which can be approached in different ways and which may even have different solutions. Much of our work is suitable for biochemists, and some of it has been specifically developed for biochemists; in this paper we will concentrate on the latter. Not all our work is ITbased. For example, we are enthusiastic about the value of original scientific papers in providing a context for discussions of the design and interpretation of scientific investigations. One of the papers we have used successfully deals explicitly with a study of enzyme catalysis5. Other exercises designed to exercise the skills of thinking are collected in a recent book. However, in this paper, we will confine ourselves to the description and discussion of computer based exercises. Our computer based materials suitable for biochemists are listed in Table 1. They were developed as part of the eLABorate project9.

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