Subscribe via Email

Your email:

Follow MeasureNet

MeasureNet News

Current Articles | RSS Feed RSS Feed

Campus News

atwood setupFrom right: Charles Atwood, coordinator of freshman chemistry; Bobby Stanton, laboratory coordinator; and freshman biology major Katrin Usifo watch freshman biology major Matthew Sokolik zero out MeasureNet?s spectrophotometer before the device is used to measure the elemental spectrum of a substance. (Photo by Peter Frey)

The perfect solution
Computer-based teaching revolutionizes freshman chemistry labs

By Phil Williams

Each week, nearly 2,000 UGA students come into freshman chemistry labs, where they work with retorts and beakers as they learned in high school. But a new twist has been added to labs here--computer-based probes that allow students to perform bench science as researchers do.

The change has been dramatic and has improved instructional capabilities remarkably, according to Charles Atwood, coordinator of freshman chemistry.
"This brings us finally into the 21st century," he says. "It allows students to perform experiments quickly and accurately, and so far the results have been amazing."

A problem with freshman chemistry labs has always been the intense level of activity required of teaching assistants and professors. TAs particularly had to roam the lab constantly, answering questions, solving problems and giving advice. Now, a single TA at an integrated computer station can monitor the work of 25 students in experiments that test everything from temperature and spectral properties of liquids to the analysis of gases with a spectrometer.

The system, built by a Cincinnati company called MeasureNet, involves a series of small two-person computer workstations where students work on experiments, using specific probes for assigned experiments. The result has been an increase in learning speed and knowledge of equipment that is similar to that used in labs where many science graduates may one day work.

atwood setup 2"The system is extremely user-friendly, and most of it is menu-driven," says Bobby Stanton, general chemistry lab coordinator. "Each system controller is like the brain of the system, and they are really easy to upgrade."

Students have reported that learning to use the probes is quite easy, and in short order they are doing everything from determining what ions are in liquid to the elemental content of some substance.

Installation of the new lab system began a little over a year ago, and it has only recently been completed as new controllers were added when funds became available.
The upgrades in freshman chemistry labs aren't the only steps forward in the chemistry building. Richard Morrison has overseen an upgrading of the organic chemistry laboratory that now allows students to use cutting-edge diagnostic tools such as infrared spectrometry, gas chromatography and nuclear magnetic resonance imaging.
"Two years ago, this was a storage room," says Morrison, as he looks over the high-tech lab. He laughs when he says "this new equipment probably improves us by a century," but he's not really kidding.

The new equipment allows smaller groups to perform far more intensive analyses of substances than ever before in UGA history. The spectrometers and magnetic resonance equipment have been up and running for a while, but the gas chromatographs have just come online.
Few teaching labs in the country are so well-equipped, says Morrison. Instead of rudimentary tests, undergraduates can now unravel the actual structure of compounds--something limited in years past to graduate students and faculty. Morrison hopes soon to connect the new equipment in the organic chemistry lab to the MeasureNet system, too, making it easier for students to perform experiments and then save the data on computers.
One of the advantages of the system in the freshman chemistry labs is that, quite soon, all the information from student experiments will be saved to a network server in the chemistry building, from which it can be remotely accessed.

"So students could do an experiment here and then go back to their dorm rooms or houses and continue to work on it," says Atwood. Labs will not end when a student leaves the bench but go on as he or she has time later in the day or week.

While other U.S. universities are now using computer-storage capabilities for students' bench-science labs, most still require one computer for each workstation, which takes up a tremendous amount of work space. With a single computer hooked to much smaller workstations, which are mounted at eye level off the benches, there?s plenty of space for experiments at UGA. In fact, in terms of numbers of students, UGA is the largest user of this system in the country.

All students need to do with the MeasureNet system is plug in the preprogrammed probe for whatever experiment is being run on a specific day.

"We were lagging behind, but now we?re on the cutting edge," says Stanton. "The students and TAs have been impressed with what we can accomplish."


Jensen Caricatures Draw On History

christian schoen bein

MeasureNet is pleased to announce that its website and newsletters will feature caricatures of notable chemists drawn by Professor William Jensen of the University of Cincinnati. The series will include a brief biographical summary of each individual authored by Jensen. The drawings will appear regularly on MeasureNet's homepage and in its blog beginning in August, 2011.

"I'm thrilled to have these Jensen works associated with MeasureNet. "They'll add a very nice visual element to our media products. At the same time, they have a high degree of relevance to chemical education. Bill's drawings fit with our efforts to make the study of chemistry more interesting and germane to students of all academic backgrounds."

William B. Jensen, Ph.D. holds the Oesper Chair in the History of Chemistry and Chemical Education at the University of Cincinnati. He is also curator of the Oesper Collection of Rare Books and Portraits in the History of Chemistry and of the department of chemistry's apparatus museum. In the area of the history of chemistry, Dr. Jensen's interests center on the development of late 19th and early 20th century physical chemistry and inorganic chemistry, with special emphasis on the origins of chemical thermodynamics and solid-state inorganic chemistry. He also has made a detailed study of the origins and development of the 19th century scientific community in Cincinnati. Photos of his early 20th-century chemistry laboratory assembled at the University of Cincinnati have been used in MeasureNet brochures and exhibit displays. 


The Cost of Personal Computers in The Science Teaching Laboratory

Read the article here: The Cost of Personal Computers in The Science Teaching Laboratory


Connecting Research With Industry (Cincinnati Enquirer)

Read the article here: Connecting Research With Industry (Cincinnati Enquirer)


UC Showcase 2008 Marks MeasureNet Birthday

Read the article here: UC Showcase 2008 Marks MeasureNet Birthday


MeasureNet-sponsored 'Fantastic Four' Dazzle at CERMACS 2007

Hazari, Shakhashiri, Fortman, and Katz at the American Chemical Society Central Regional Meeting (CERMACS) 2007

May 25, 2007

The 'Fantastic Four Science Guys' performed, cajoled, and demonstrated on behalf of science education at the May 20-23, 2007 Central Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society. Asked about the importance of chemical demonstration, Professor John Fortman commented "Demonstrations illustrate how science can best be learned by seeing and doing instead of only by reading books or listening to teachers. It is a way of learning things that can be applied to everyday life. As babies we learn only by experiencing but as we get older formal education goes to books and lectures. No description of a chemical or physical change can match actually seeing it. Students also remember it better. Demos are entertaining while also being educational. The shows help encourage students and the public to learn some chemistry and not to be fearful of science."

Over 200 attendees witnessed the proceedings of the 'Four' over a two-session sequence on Sunday and Tuesday. The event was the first of its kind for an ACS Regional meeting where four of the country's leading demonstrators were assembled for a single event. The 'Fantastic Four' were sponsored by MeasureNet Technology Ltd.


Al Hazari (left) of the University of Tennessee Knoxville and Bassam Shakhashiri of the University of Wisconsin-Madison also known as "The Lebanese Connection."


David Katz of Pima Community College, Tucson examines the volume of dissolved CO2 in a soft drink.


John Fortman (left) of Wright State University and Ed Escudero (right) of Summit Country Day School in Cincinnati together with MeasureNet's Michael Kurutz (center).


Hazari demonstrating the wonders of sodium polyacrylate with a trusting member of the audience.


Shakhashiri handles dry ice inventory as immersion of a dry ice piece into room-temperature water creates a memorable display.


Katz simulates a sunset and the scattering of shorter wavelength blue and violet light.


More than half a century of demonstration experience on stage... Fortman and Escudero still employ safety goggles.


Shakhashiri with a huffing and puffing audience member demonstrating lung capacity, pressure, and Bernoulli's principle.


More than fun... Shakhashiri discusses the importance of science in civilizational development.


High-energy Hazari begins 'Making Chemistry Exocharmic.'

MeasureNet Technology Ltd. manufactures patented, network-based data acquisition interfaces for science teaching laboratories. It is a spin-off of the University of Cincinnati's Department of Chemistry and is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. Measurenet's award-winning, PC-reducing design helps reduce laboratory maintenance and operational costs while giving students access to high quality shared UV-vis spectroscopy, gas chromatograph and HPLC connectivity, and an array of innovative probeware. Its acclaimed intuitive design provides improved transparency to enable better science-focused learning. Winner of the Ohio Governor's Award For Excellence in Energy Efficiency, MeasureNet networks are found in universities, community colleges, high schools, and vocational training centers across the United States and around the world.

For more information contact:

Len Weibel
Director of Business Development
tel. toll-free: 866-396-6765

MeasureNet Technology Ltd

> 'Science is Fun' Site of Bassam Shakhashiri at the University of Wisconsin
> Additional Photos From CERMACS 2007
> CERMACS 2007 Session Posters of the 'Fantastic Four'


Collection Easier, More Effective For Lab Students (Cincinnati Enquirer)

Read the article here: Collection Easier, More Effective For Lab Students (Cincinnati Enquirer)


MeasureNet Papers, Workshops, and Events at the 19th BCCE


Monday, July 31st

Web-based Storage, Manipulation, and sharing of Electronic Data from the Chemistry Lab
Symposium: About the General Chemistry Laboratory
Session: Session 3 of 4: General; Monday, July 31st, 2006

Paper Start Time: 15:45:00
Author: Estel Sprague
Presenter: Estel Sprague

Abstract: The purpose of this presentation is to describe a convenient system for storing, manipulating, and sharing the large amounts of electronic data often generated in modern chemistry lab experiments using MeasureNet® data collection equipment. The system allows data sets to be easily and automatically uploaded directly from the laboratory into one or several individual, password-protected student accounts on a remote server. Students retrieve their uploaded data sets later using any web-connected computer. When desired, the instructor can provide data analysis assistance by means of Excel workbooks containing macros written for specific types of data. Sharing of data by groups of students is greatly facilitated, since data sets can be saved for all members of a group, giving each student access to all of the data sets uploaded by the group. Illustrative examples of the use of this system will be presented.

Exhibit Area, Booths 1-3

MeasureNet Hospitality Suite
A variety of alcoholic and nonalcoholic refreshments and snacks
Union Club Hotel


Tuesday, August 1

Exhibit Area, Booths 1-3

MeasureNet Hospitality Suite
A variety of alcoholic and nonalcoholic refreshments and snacks
Union Club Hotel


Wednesday, August 2

Practical Laboratory Final Exams Featuring MeasureNet to Assess Student Learning
Symposium: General Chemistry: Improving General Chemistry Instruction Through Lab Practical Assessment
Session: Session 1 of 1

Paper Start Time: 09:45:00
Author: Bobby Stanton
Presenter: Bobby Stanton
CoAuthor: Lin Zhu

Abstract: During Fall semester 2005, we implemented Laboratory Practical Final Examinations into the General Chemistry laboratory curriculum to assess students’ mastery of chemical concepts, basic laboratory techniques, and their ability to implement the scientific method. We observed some unusual patterns in students’ abilities to perform certain types of laboratory techniques. For example, a majority of students were able to determine the concentration of an unknown acid via titration, but relatively few students were able to determine the concentration of an unknown base via titration. Understanding the reasons for these observed differences will allow instructors to enhance their students’ laboratory learning experience.

Exhibit Area, Booths 1-3


Thursday, August 3

Workshop:  MeasureNet – The High School Setting
Fee: None
Room: BRWN 2134

Workshop Start Time:  08:00:00 - 11:00:00
Leader: Edmund Escudero
CoLeaders: Edward Kentrup

Description: Experience Measurenet. Hear how the system is used in two different high school settings. Course use ranges intro. physical science through AP Chemistry and AP biology. While at the workshop you will have the opportunity to perform a series of experiments that demonstrate the broad range of overall experiments available with the system.


MeasureNet Teams With Metro Tech To Serve Puerto Rico

Michael Kurutz and Julio Cay

April 11 , 2006

MeasureNet has enlisted Metro Tech of Puerto Rico to assist with distribution and service activities for its network-based teaching lab systems in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. The 24-year old company has operated for the past ten years from a new corporate complex in San Lorenzo, approximately 43 km south of the San Juan metroplex and well-placed to enable quick island-wide reach with convenient access to the Marte International Airport.

Julio Cay, founder and president of Metro Tech, has guided the company through an impressive period of growth. Metro Tech currently employees 16 full-time staff and represents some 20 firms that include Brinkman, Jasco, and Buchi in addition to MeasureNet. The company also is ISO 17025 certified. Javier Otero has served as Metro Tech’s General Manager for the past eight years.

“I can’t think of a better partner to help promote the growth of MeasureNet’s Puerto Rican and Caribbean business.” commented Michael Kurutz, MeasureNet’s Director of Marketing. “Julio Cay is well-known in academic and private sector chemistry circles in Puerto Rico and his firm has established a well-deserved reputation for exceptional personalized sales and support. Julio and I have worked together extensively and I’m confident that Metro Tech will strongly complement MeasureNet's reputation as the leading technology provider for teaching laboratory instrumentation. The chemistry and engineering qualifications of his staff are first rate.”

MeasureNet Technology Ltd. manufactures patented, network-based data acquisition interfaces for science teaching laboratories. It is a spin-off of the University of Cincinnati's Department of Chemistry and is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. Measurenet's award-winning, PC-reducing design helps reduce laboratory maintenance and operational costs while giving students access to high quality shared UV-vis spectroscopy and an array of innovative probeware. It's acclaimed intuitive design provides improved transparency to enable better science-focused, not technology-focused, learning. Winner of the Ohio Governor's Award For Excellence in Energy Efficiency, MeasureNet networks are found in universities, community colleges, high schools, and vocational training centers across the United States and around the world.

For more information contact:

Len Weibel
Director of Business Development
tel. toll-free: 866-396-6765

MeasureNet Technology Ltd


Wood's Corner - We Love Our Instruments


MeasureNet Spectrum

I was attending a reception for a guest speaker at the University of Cincinnati chemistry department the other day, held in the Departmental Apparatus Museum. The museum is part of The Oesper Collections in the History of Chemistry, which also includes books and journals displaying the history of chemistry from 1600 to 1959. What struck me the most was the collection of early 20th century chemistry instrumentation. On display were early pH meters and a battery powered Beckman DU spectrophotometer. Remember, not all laboratories had reliable electricity back then; in fact the early polarograph (not on display) developed by Heyrovsky, had a hand cranked generator for a power source. Therefore it took two people to conduct an experiment--one to turn the crank at a constant speed, and another person to manipulate the polarographic apparatus. The importance of these instruments is that they were among the first commercial instruments available that paved the way for what we have today. Prior to the availability of commercial instruments it was difficult for research laboratories to directly compare the results of experimental data collected with instrumentation. The instruments were hand-built, to the specifications of each investigator. Even if one investigator tried to build to another researcher’s specifications, there were likely to be differences in the final construction.

For example, consider a hypothetical situation: let’s say that we want to compile information on the measurement of the freezing point of cyclohexane—a routine MeasureNet experiment. Employing a coaxial test tube arrangement to hold the sample so that we can accurately measure the liquid to solid transition, we have three groups conduct the experiment. Group #1 uses a mercury thermometer, group #2 uses an instrument with a slow response sensor (unknown to them); and group #3 uses an instrument with a fast response sensor. Group #1 feels comfortable taking temperature readings every 10 seconds, while the other two groups let their instruments collect data every second. All three groups employ constant stirring and expect the cooling curves to show an abrupt change when freezing begins, thus allowing the freezing point to be determined from the cooling curve. Each group repeats the experiment several times and averages the results.

The freezing points found by groups #1 and #2 agree, however group #1 reports occasionally observing a spurious data point in the cooling curve occurring somewhat below the freezing point. Group #3 consistently observes a small dip (or glitch) in their plot, instead of a simple break, occurring at the freezing point in the temperature-versus-time curve. The group does not have an explanation for the dip but observes, if one extrapolates across the glitch, their freezing point is in agreement with that of groups #1 and #2. Group #3 reports their findings, including a description of the glitch.

Other researchers see the report by group #3, purchase identical instrumentation, and start to investigate the “strange glitch.” They immediately rule out instrumentation effects and conclude that in the freezing process of cyclohexane, the sample remains in the liquid state in spite of reaching a temperature about 0.20 degrees C below the freezing point of the solution. Then rather suddenly the solution starts to crystallize and the temperature starts to rise until it equals the amount it had dropped in the dip. Finally, one researcher gives the phenomenon a catchy name of “supercooling dip” and the name sticks. The phenomenon is then observed in other liquids as they freeze. Thus a new phenomenon that occurs in the freezing process is discovered.

Of course the above story is a simplified description of how science works. It was written to show the important role that chemical instrumentation played in the laboratories of the past and continues to play in the laboratories of the present. While the occasional “spurious” data point observed by group #1 hinted at the effect, it was only possible to examine it in detail with the appropriate fast sensing instrumentation.

My colleagues and I at MeasureNet Technology strive to produce the most intuitive and functional chemical instrumentation for your freshman and advanced chemistry laboratories. If you’re stuck on a probeware issue or need helpful guidance on its best use, contact me!

See you at the ACS meeting in Atlanta…

Wood's signature

Elwood Brooks, Ph.D., is a MeasureNet Senior Applications Specialist frequently seen circling Cincinnati on a variety of motorcycles. He can be reached at

All Posts