Tuesday, November 12, 2013 - 11:08pm

Local High School Student, UGA Professor Team Up to iPhone/iPad application

By Jessica Luton  jluton@uga.edu

For North Oconee High School student Chuanbo Pan, computer programming just comes naturally. After creating an iPhone app to help fellow high school students learn Latin, Pan was sought out by his neighbor, chemistry professor Jason Locklin, to help create an app for what is often known as one of UGA’s most difficult classes—Organic Chemistry II.

Pan took three large notebooks worth of notes, diagrams of molecular structures and reactions and created an interactive iPhone and iPad app. The app puts hundreds of pages of notes at the fingertips of UGA students, hopefully helping students by giving them yet another resource and means by which to absorb and learn the information.

Organic Chemistry I helps students understand organic molecules, how to name them and the fundamental principles of organic chemistry.  Organic Chemistry II requires students to use that basic knowledge to understand reactions.  It’s a particularly challenging course.

“They call this class the gateway to medical school,” said Locklin. “This course is important for professions like medicine because you have to take this massive amount of information and be able to quickly organize it in a way that makes logical sense in a finite amount of time.  This is analogous to what a medical doctor has to do: quickly assess the situation, recognize symptoms, make a diagnosis, and offer solutions for treatment. That’s why medical schools care so much about how well you do in this class. You learn to solve problems in this class.”

Given the difficulty of the course, Locklin says students are frequently requesting more supplementary materials that will help them learn about several hundred chemical reactions.  After reading articles in the local newspapers about a fellow professors’ son who had just created an iPhone/iPad app to help his high school classmates learn Latin, Locklin decided to reach out to Pan, both as a means to help his students and give Pan an opportunity to do what he loves—computer programming.

A year later and the Organic Chemistry II Survival Guide app for iPad and iPhone is the end result. Complete with over 200 reactions, derived directly from Locklin’s notes and teaching materials, students can scan through reactions, make notes using a text editor or a touch-screen note taking feature that allows students to draw the reactions or even flag troublesome reactions.

Pan’s previous experience creating the LatinHelper app is not his only computer programming experience.  As a participant in the Young Dawgs research program this summer, Pan worked with Tianming Liu’s computer science lab on an application to help map the human brain. Using an iPad, Pan learned how to employ touch-screen drawing to map the human connectome.  He recognized that drawing was a great way to better enhance his latest iPhone/iPad app because students would be better able to make notes and draw the structures.

Pan has also created a program to help disabled people use their heads to control a computer mouse, which earned him a ticket to the 2013 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair held on May 12-17, 2013 in Phoenix, Arizona.  

Locklin and Pan worked together on the weekends over the summer to create the app, as the project wasn’t funded by any particular grant, but the end result has been an enhancing experience for them both.

“I’m more interested in chemistry now. And it also helped me with my AP chemistry test in 10th grade,” he said, adding that the experience also helped him further cultivate his programming skills.  Next up, he hopes to create an Android based version of the application.

“Our goal is to reach you any way possible,” said Locklin. “Anything that helps you do better in the course or learn the material, I think that’s my job as a professor, to be an effective communicator. And I think that’s something that this app allows us to do.”

 

Want to learn more about the app or download it? Visit:

iPhone version:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ochem-ii-survival-guide/id697843357?Is=1&mt=8

 

iPad version:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ochem-ii-survival-guide-hd/id697849518?Is=1&mt=8

 

 The Organic Chemistry II Survival Guide app is priced at $3.99 for the iPhone app and $4.99 for the iPad app.