Release Date: 4 March 1997

Virtual chemistry lab wins Information Society Creativity Award

A virtual chemistry lab being developed by researchers at the University of Oxford has won an Information Society Creativity Award (ISCA).

The virtual lab, which is being developed at Oxfordís new Chemistry IT Centre, allows students to carry out interactive chemistry experiments over the Internet. It makes use of some of the most ground breaking multimedia available at the moment including virtual reality and digital video.

Dr Karl Harrison, whose brainchild the virtual lab is, explained: "There are many advantages to teaching chemistry in a virtual laboratory. It is possible for students to carry out experiments which might otherwise have been too dangerous, environmentally unfriendly, costly, or time-consuming. We can also use interactive questioning to test a studentís knowledge at every stage."

David Jones, a 22 year old undergraduate at Christ Church college and one of the students developing the lab, said: "The additional information available in the virtual lab really encourages students to learn about the chemistry behind the experiment. It can also be a lot more fun than a traditional chemistry practical."

Students will be able to use the virtual laboratory from next October when it will be incorporated into the undergraduate chemistry course at the University.

The awards form part of the DTIís Information Society Initiative Programme for Business and are sponsored by Sun Microsystems, Macromedia, and The Sunday Times.

Congratulating winners at the awards ceremony, Science and Technology Minister, Ian Taylor said: "I want these awards to raise awareness of the range and type of digital products and applications available, and to serve as examples to others in the creative industries.

"I believe that technology is a means to an end - allowing the delivery of exciting applications with sound, video, animation graphics and interactivity more rapidly and in a user friendly manner - rather than just an end in itself."

Ends

Notes to editors: The virtual chemistry laboratory is being developed by the Chemistry IT Centre based at the University of Oxfordís Inorganic Chemistry Lab by Dr Karl Harrison and undergraduates David Jones, Chris Eason, and Devin Lo. More information about the project can be obtained from Dr Karl Harrison on 01865 275925 or from David Jones on 0958 374620.

The virtual chemistry laboratory is available on the Internet at: /vrchemistry

For press enquiries about the Information Society Initiative, call the ISI Programme for Business Publicity Centre. Telephone 0171 828 1593. Fax 0171 931 9640. Their web site is: http://www.isi.gov.uk