Crystalwalk: an educational interactive software for synthesis and visualization of crystal structures
This work documents the process of development of an educational interactive software for synthesis and visualization of crystal structures (crystallographic software) named CrystalWalk (CW). The development of CW was justified by educational problems that were the identified and defined from direct stakeholders inquiry process about the lack of proper didatic tools for teaching crystal structure topic in materials science and engineering disciplines. Further, an evaluation of the existing crystallographic softwares has shown opportunities for the development of a new software, focused on the educational approach. The process of development and implementation of CrystalWalk was guided by principles of free software, accessibility and democratization of knowledge, adopting state of art technologies for the development of interactive web applications, such as HTML5/WebGL, service oriented architecture (SOA) and responsive, resilient and elastic distributed systems. CW proposes an unprecedented step-by-step crystal structure creation approach, imparting the concept of lattice and motif through active and conscious user interaction. Additionally, a comprehensive set of didactic functionalities was also successfully implemented, as an online content publication platform for sharing interactive crystal structures, a “didactic narratives” tool that enables users to generate interactive classes based on predefined animated sequences as well the support for advanced interaction and virtual reality technologies as Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard, LEAP Motion, multi-touch devices and 3D printing technologies. Project deliverables were evaluated under action-research premises based on identified problems resolution and overall stake-holders acquired knowledge or empowerment . CW has successfully resolved most of the identified problems identified, empowering students, professors and researchers through positive impact in the democratization of knowledge and technological autonomy and independence.