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ArgusLab 4.01
Mark Thompson
Medio Systems Inc.Seattle
Downloadable software
Cooperative learning, Modelling, Experiential learning
Fundamental Chemistry, Life Chemistry
Upper Secondary School
The prerequisites
ArgusLab is a very useful tool for anyone working in a research lab, studying or working in the pharmaceutical industry, for students of University. When used at high school, the possession of some medium and advanced concepts of chemistry (organic chemistry, life chemistry...) is necessary.

The contents
The program allows to draw very complex molecular configurations, for instance proteins, obtain helical chains of amino acids and folded leaves etc. ArgusLab uses a tree system to organise all the elements to add to any structure before representing this data as a drawing, allowing you to analyse it a visual manner. In particular the use of the software leads to:
- draw and modify molecular structures in 3D;
- know all the chemical features about Carbon and his covalent bond;
- know all the chemical features about reactive groups;
- measure the bond distances, the bond angles, the torsion level of carbon chain.

The aims
The software helps students to become familiar with organic molecules, even complicated such as molecules belonging to biochemistry.

Task description
The student can combine the common study of chemistry with the observation of the 3D molecules taken in consideration.

How to use it in class
- Illustrate the chemical features of various substances looking their 3D structure
- modelling molecular structure with one or more students and invite them to do this as homework at home
- test student beginning from a 3D molecular structure
- if the classrom is provided with a PC with a projector, all this is possible, but without these tools it's very difficult.
Few detailed and valid examples about lessons in class with ArgusLab, are reported in Italian on the link below:
Points of strength
- It is an amusing tool to learn chemistry
- it allows to approach and know better the molecular structure
- it is easy to be used, suitable for PC and Tablet

Points of weakness
- The software is only in english
- only covalent bond is very good represented
- the software is easy to use only with OS Windows platform.

Scientific reliability
Very realistic description about molecules, with exact measurements of elaborated data

Pedagogic value
It's a valid help for teachers and students to collaborate to study better
University of Genova

Comments about this Publication

Your comments are welcome

Date: 2014.11.30

Posted by Mariusz Jarocki (Poland)

Message: 1. Is the teaching resource described useful for you? Why?
The program demonstrates very complex molecular configurations, for instance proteins, in very attractive form. Because of the complexity it is not suitable to use at lower level of the education. It can be a supplementary source of knowledge at the courses of organic chemistry.

2. Do you think it can increase the students’ interest toward chemistry? Why?
I suppose that the interest has to come from other sources than software which presents how complex a matter can be. It\'s undoubted that we can be delighted by the beauty of the proteins at microscopic scale, but it is not sufficient stimulation for the interest separately. We need wider context.

3. Do you think it can help the students to understand better and faster? Why?
Yes, possibilities of free three-dimensional manipulations of models can help with it without any objections, allowing a user to analyse it a visual manner. It is enabled to know all the chemical features about Carbon and chemical features about reactive groups.

4. Do you think it propose an innovative didactic approach? Why?
It is hard to treat the tool as the main one in didactic process, it\'s rather some kind of support. I suppose we can tell about some innovation only in the context of greater methodology which uses the tool as one of many others.

Date: 2014.03.19

Posted by Christodoulos Makedonas (Greece)

Message: Argus Lab is a freeware modeling software developed and distributed by Mark Thompson and Planaria Software LLC. Currently, version 4.0.1 for Windows is available for downloading, though it seems that it has been a while since the last update.
It can be employed for the drawing and/or representation of 3D structures of inorganic, organic and bio- molecules, up to molecules of high complexity, such as proteins. In that perspective, it can be easily applied for the study of bonding and stereochemistry, hydrogen bonding and reaction mechanisms. These features make Argus Lab suitable for all levels of upper secondary education, as a valuable assistance in chemistry and biochemistry lessons.
Moreover, Argus Lab is a modeling software that can be employed for performing theoretical calculations (geometry optimization, energy, properties) at MM, EHT, AM1/PM3 and MNDO/ZINDO level of theory and for docking calculations. An interface to the popular Gaussian software is available as well. This functionality along with the fact that it is freeware makes Argus Lab a great choice for the introduction of computational chemistry either to a group of selected 2nd to 3rd grade students or first grade undergraduate university students.

Date: 2013.02.02

Posted by Beata Brestenská (Slovakia)

Message: I have met with this kind of software for the first time and I consider ArgusLab as a very useful software tool for drawing and modeling molecular structures. It can be downloaded from the internet because it is free and it is a tool for creating 3D models, drawing molecular configurations, proteins and etc. This type of software tool can be easily used by high school students. By its using students can develop their competences in chemistry and English. The aim is to generate interest for chemistry. The program enables a student to create complex molecular configurations in 3D and with the help of the software program to create and edit molecular models in these dimensions which will simplify understanding of a curriculum. I think this software can be very useful also for university students and for laboratory experiments. It is importatnt to have someone who will teach you to work with the software because it is needed to manage to work with it at a professional basis. This software will significantly help students to understand the molecular modeling which is not an easy part of chemistry. I think this software can be very useful for teachers of chemistry in a classroom and laboratory, by this way teachers can have a good tool for a teaching proccess in laboratory exercises and students can also learn how to download it and explore its possibilities. It is great as an introduction into molecular modeling with respect to its availability and easy cooperation with it. It is for consideration at which group of students it is aimed but it develops competentions of a student at advanced basis and is important for their motivation to go to study chemistry at a university or to start a career in secialised laboratories, research centres or companies dealing with research of chemical and biochemical products.

Date: 2012.10.03

Posted by Murat DEMİRBAŞ (Turkey)

Message: This teaching resource is a software called ArgusLab and it can be free downloaded. ArgusLab is a tool for making 3D models, draw molecular configurations, proteins, etc..
It is not very easy to use this software because drawing something is always a litle bit hard in computers. And also it seems not apropriate for secondary students, I think this software can be very usefel and also helpful for college students for chemistry lab. Also you need someone to teach you the details for the software, because it seems easy to draw simple things but if you want to study in details, you should know the software well.

This software can help students for better understanding because molecular modelling is not an easy area in chemistry, but first you should know some basic knowledge about the topic.

I think this software can be used by chemistry teachers in their classroom and labs, in this way teachers have a good tool for lab teaching process and stdents also can learn the software in an easy way.

Date: 2012.10.01

Posted by Daniela Petrova (Bulgaria)

Message: ArgusLab is a useful molecular modeling program. The software tools are easy to use by secondary school students. When using them, students develop their competence in chemistry and English.
With the possibilities it avails, this modern software product would provoke students’ interest in chemistry. The program allows students to build complex molecular configurations in three dimensions.
Using the software program to build and edit molecular models in three dimensions will facilitate students’ understanding and comprehension of chemistry subject matter. Students will know:
- the chemical features of Carbon and its covalent bond
- the chemical features of reactive groups
- the 3-D image of the complex biochemical molecule
The knowledge and skills that students gain will be of benefit when performing experiments in real-life laboratory and help them achieve an advanced level of chemistry competence.
This software program offers an innovative approach to teaching chemistry. It increases interest in the subject of chemistry illustrating at the same time its relation to other subjects, such as biochemistry, mathematics, physics, information technologies, graphical designing and English.
The program is easy to incorporate in the classroom but it is not feasible in Bulgarian schools due to the lack of PC for each student to use, the different level of English language command and the limited time of the lesson.
Despite all, the software product can allow innovative learning providing students with the possibility to make chemistry-related presentations, project works, etc.
Developing students’ chemistry competence to an advanced level is of importance to their motivation for higher school chemistry education and careers in specialized laboratories, research centers or companies producing chemical and biochemical products.

Date: 2012.09.27

Posted by Angela Gammell (Ireland)

Message: This resource is a tool for drawing and modelling molecular structures. It is free, quick to download and install. I feel this resource is too advanced for use in my situation (second level) and is more suited to third level. It allows you to build 3D images of molecules and then to rotate these molecules so that students gain a 3D awareness of the arrangement of the atoms within the molecules.
It is relatively easy to draw simple molecules. However, there are some difficulties in learning to use the program. For example, the tutorials in the Help menu do not match the tools available on the tool bar. However, with a little effort and by using online tutorials from other sources, it is possible to draw a simple molecule like methane or ethane and change from ethane to ethene for example to show the change from tetrahedral C to planar C. There are many other features possible such as showing chiral centres, partial charges etc., most of which are beyond the scope of the course I teach.
This program would be suitable for use with an advanced/special interest group of students who may choose to download it and explore its possibilities in their own time. It is a good introduction to molecular modelling due to the fact that it is so widely available and easy to get started with. I feel that this program may well enhance the interest of students who are already interested in chemistry and willing to put in the effort to get to grips with the program. It may be of use to teachers to prepare images of molecules which can then be incorporated into presentations to class or manipulated by students themselves, depending on the IT resources available in the classroom/lab.

National Reports on successful experiences to promote lifelong learning for chemistry The national reports on chemistry successful experiences to promote lifelong learning for chemistry are now available on the related section of the project portal. The reports presents examples of successful experiences in the partner countries and the results of testing of ICT resources with science teachers.