P490: Using a chemist’s tools: Instrumentation in a non-majors course
In our general chemistry laboratories, students use multiple types of instrumentation to study molecules “like a chemist” early on in their college careers. In our experience, students understand the chemistry better when they are able to investigate, analyze, and visualize molecules the way that chemists do. Before the development of this course, our only non-majors survey course was a traditional “Chemistry in Society” offering without a laboratory component. This was a troubling omission in our department, since we felt that students would benefit from our general chemistry worldview no matter what their major. We designed a new course to focus on instrumentation and laboratory work with lectures that were used to clarify and augment concepts first introduced in the experiments. The laboratory work, and thus instrumentation, was at the heart of the course. Building off of the philosophies of our general chemistry laboratories, we designed the laboratories around instrumentation use. Regardless of their majors, in this course they acted “like chemists” and had the chance to explore the world at the molecular level using the tools that chemists use.