The Next-Generation Molecular Workbench

The Next-Generation Molecular Workbench

Be sure to check out the free review activities at the end of this article!


The new, lighter, Next-Generation MW

Last Spring, the Concord Consortium released the Next-Generation Molecular Workbench (MW). The Next-Generation MW works within your web browser and is much more accessible than Concord Consortium’s Classic Molecular Workbench. The Classic MW requires the instillation of Java Runtime Environment and requires a fair amount of processing power.

For those unfamiliar with Concord Consortium’s Molecular Workbench, it is free molecular simulation software used for teaching and learning science. The new, lighter, Next-Generation MW is not a total replacement for the Classic version and currently only features a handful of the Classic simulations. The simulations it does feature, however, are built with HTML5 and can be viewed directly within your web browser. This should make using the MW with your class much, much easier.

The simulations featured in the Next-Generation MW can be viewed as standalone interactives but many are also grouped into activities based on various topics. The questions included with each activity can be answered by typing directly into the interactive; students are given the option of printing a report of their work at the end.

The Next-Generation MW was built with sharing in mind. Each interactive features a “share” tab that provides a link to a full-page version of the simulation and HTML code for embedding the interactive into a blog or website. This means you can create your own lesson and embed the simulations directly into a class website! If that’s not an option, simply give students links to the individual interactives.

Next-Generation Molecular Workbench Screenshot

This is a screenshot from an interactive titled “Hydrogen Bonds: A Special Type of Attraction.” The Next-Generation MW interactives can be embedded into a webpage or shared via a link.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time playing with the Next-Generation MW since its release. In Google Chrome the simulations run very smoothly. Trying to view the simulations on an iPad is a different story. Using iOS devices to run the simulations may be impractical at the moment, as things move rather sluggishly—I only say this from personal experience. Hopefully a future update will resolve the iOS issue; in the meantime, I’m plenty happy using the browser.

What’s really cool is that the Next-Generation MW is published under various open source licenses. You are free to use the interactives anywhere you want as long as you provide attribution to the Concord Consortium. I’d like to high-five the folks at Concord Consortium for working hard to streamline the Molecular Workbench and then sharing it for free!

Note: I have tried the simulation in various browsers. I experienced the best results in Google Chrome—which is really the only browser I use anyway!


See the Next-Generation Molecular workbench in action with these free biochemistry review activities.




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Jeremy Conn

Science Teacher and Founder of Clear Biology at Clear Biology
I hold a Master of Arts in Teaching degree and have been teaching science in public schools since 2004. I have a love for biology and instructional design. My mission is to share with other educators the best of what I know about teaching.

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1 Comment

  1. I have always used bubbles to teach cell membranes, but as I did not have my usual resources with me, I googled and found yours. It is far superior to what I have used before. The students were fully engaged and found the links to membranes easy to make. I have shared this with my teaching colleagues who will trail it for themselves next week. I am confident that they will also appreciate your clear instructions and links. Thank you for making this available.


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