2 Feb 2009

New CCDC FREE database for teaching purposes

Submitted by Hilary Eppley, DePauw University
Browse a teaching database of experimentally-determined crystal structures using WebCSD - the online portal to the Cambridge Structural Database.


The 500-structure teaching database includes a wide variety of molecules (from adrenaline to zirconium complexes) and can be used to enhance learning across the chemistry curriculum. The teaching database can be accessed and browsed from anywhere without the need for registration or software installation. A range of teaching exercises exemplify how the database can be used to teach concepts such as aromaticity, VSEPR, and stereochemistry. The VIPEr user community should think about ways this new resource can be incorporated into our inorganic courses and post new learning objects as you create them!


In addition to being available in the web format, the Teaching Subset is embedded in the freely available Mercury 2.2.  This 2009 release may be downloaded at http://www.ccdc.cam.ac.uk/free_services/mercury/downloads/  .  Once you install Mercury 2.2 on your local computer, click the link “Open the Teaching Subset” under the “Databases” menu to access the Teaching Subset.  Currently the Teaching Subset consists of a carefully selected 500 structure database which is a subset of the CSD.  (At this time, free editions allow scrolling through entries, but not searching for entries.)   Several teaching modules, which utilize CSD data, are freely available and ready for use in undergraduate courses.  See: http://www.ccdc.cam.ac.uk/free_services/teaching/modules/teaching_webcsd... .  Several addition teaching modules requiring use of locally installed licensed copies of the Cambridge Crystallographic Database System are also available.  See: http://www.ccdc.cam.ac.uk/free_services/teaching/modules/ .

The Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre (CCDC) has supported crystallographic and chemical education for some time by making a version of ConQuest, Classroom ConQuest, available for teaching.  Over the years academic users have increasingly asked whether a subset of the database could be released for teaching purposes.  It became clear that a small, well selected and freely available subset of the CSD would have significant educational value.  In 2005 I began collaborating with CCDC to work toward the common vision to design such a subset and promote its use in Chemical Education.

Through support by a United States National Science Foundation funded Discovery Corps Fellowship, I have been working with the CCDC to develop the teaching subset of the CSD along with educational modules centered on the use of the CSDS.  DCF Senior awards provide mid-career professionals with resources to combine research with service-oriented projects.  The grant supported full CSDS access by over 30 Primarily Undergraduate Institutions in the United States and enabled me to visit many of these Universities and Colleges to provide CSDS training and workshops, encourage others to develop their own CSDS-based educational examples, and gain valuable feedback from peers.

We plan to bring the freely available teaching-subset up to about 1000 structures.  To do this well WE NEED YOUR INPUT!  We want to choose a wide range of examples that are well suited for use in teaching, particularly throughout undergraduate chemistry curricula.  We encourage you to e-mail us at teaching@ccdc.cam.ac.uk with your suggestions.

The 500-structure database is based upon work supported by the US NSF under Grant No. 0725294.