Inspiration

We wanted to make it easier for our fellow peers to complete chemistry homework, so we decided to build a simple, yet helpful and invaluable application to assist them.

What it does

The application utilizes a novel minimalistic layout and provides staple Chemistry-based resources that are indispensable to anyone taking Chemistry. (Including a molar mass calculator, periodic table catalogue, quick MSDS reference files, and a powerful equation-balancing algorithm (powered by the Wolfram | Alpha Framework). The online web-scrape algorithm is powered by a Machine-Training technique that relies on Yahoo's cookie-based search optimization to bring better results to our users, courtesy of Yahoo's algorithms.

How We built it

We built it using HTML, CSS, JavaScript and JQuery for the web-based application, along with a bit of HTML5 Canvas, JSON parsing (courtesy of YQL pipelining)

Challenges I ran into

Utilizing Noodle.js [github @dharmafly] to parse the webpages that we had to analyze in order to convert molecular formulas. This was definitely one of the toughest tasks that we had to beat down, and was also one of our biggest time-sinks during the entire project.

Accomplishments that We're proud of

We were able to utilize the Noodle.js [github @dharmafly] API to scrape the google search page (not an easy task for us) and retrieve any data that we needed to get- from there it was very satisfying to see that we had seamlessly performed a search using Google's webpage. It was a great accomplishment when that worked well for us. Our iOS team member had a tough time in particular devising an algorithm to find the molar mass of a molecule, but after a few hours of work and help from mentors, we were able to get back on track.

What We learned

We learned a lot throughout the duration of this 36-hour coding spree, and one of them was that sitting and complaining about a problem would definitely not solve it. There were a lot of times when the goal seemed impossible or when we didn't think that we could make it in time, but in the end, we never gave up and kept building - kudos to the mentors for helping us out of of really tough spots.

Summary

It was a great learning experience, and we developed a great application that we can share with our friends back home to alleviate the Chemistry stress!

What's next for ChemHelper

The next steps for our app would be the deployment on a large scale to the app store and the subsequent restructuring of our web-based scraping programs and scripts, and refine the application as a whole. We hope that Chemistry students everywhere will enjoy the benefit of our application and creation!

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Updates

Akilesh Praveen posted an update

Development on ChemHelper outside of hackathons has been announced and confirmed!

Many issues that we will try to address in the coming versions:

  • A live, testable URL
  • A less "hacky" ML algorithm
  • More accurate search/scrape algorithms (or alternatives)
  • code optimization
  • minor UI fixes
  • promotional website

Chem Homework will be a cinch!

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