School of Human and Biomedical Sciences, University of Canberra
KINEMAGES is an ancillary product for the textbook "Biochemistry" by Donald and Judith Voet, 1995.
In biochemistry, structure is intimately connected to function and students often experience trouble imagining the 3-dimensional structures of molecules. The program KINEMAGES enables the user to interact with the 3-D shape of biochemical molecules. These include general secondary and tertiary protein structures, specific proteins such as haemoglobin and myoglobin, serine proteases and phosphofructokinase and also DNA, RNA and DNA-protein complexes. There are 22 separate presentations included in the package.
The program fits onto one 3.5" floppy disk and unzips to fill approximately 6Mb of hard drive space. The program contains both the interactive image files and extensive notes in text files. These notes can be accessed on screen during molecule manipulation and also printed out for easier reading.
The program can be used as a self-paced tutoring tool by individual students or as an aid in lectures or tutorials where the images can be projected and manipulated in response to teaching needs and student questions. The images are easy to manipulate with movement of the mouse pointer. Also parts of the images can be switched on and off to improve clarity. Interesting examples of this are addition and removal of BPG to the haemoglobin tetramer and the conformation changes associated with the binding of ADP to phosphofructokinase. Several different pre-set views are provided in addition to the infinite variety of views that can be generated by the click of a mouse.
The accompanying notes would provide adequate support for a knowledgeable student using the program unaided. However a student coming to these structures and notes without a prior familiarity with the relevant theory might find the presentation confusing, if not down right alarming. The notes have the advantage of referring to the figures in the textbook that are attempting to explain the same concept on the flat page. This provides an opportunity to learn to better understand the flat page representations.
A representative from Jacaranda Wiley, the Australian supplier, informed me that the disk may be purchased separately, or packaged with the textbook "Biochemistry" by Donald and Judith Voet. Also if the book is adopted, the software is supplied free and can be used without a site license within the institution for those enrolled students, which makes an attractive offer.
UniServe Science News Volume 11 November 1998
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