P945: Biochemistry snapshots in organic chemistry
Students often compartmentalize the material they learn in different courses. If we help them see connections between courses, they are likely to better integrate topics and apply ideas learned in one course to another, gaining an overall deeper understanding of science. As students are first introduced to various types of reactions and functionalities in organic chemistry, if they learn that biological systems use similar reactions and mechanisms, they are more likely to be motivated to learn organic chemistry. We have created several short (2-3 slide) PowerPoint presentations of how topics learned in Organic I and II courses are directly applicable to important biochemical pathways. The idea is to connect ‘abstract’ organic chemistry principles to biological situations familiar to students (such as digestion or vision) and medical or molecular biology topics of interest to many (such as how carbohydrate and fat metabolism affect obesity). By making organic chemistry more relevant to students pursuing careers in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy or public health, we aim to encourage students to spend more time and energy studying organic chemistry. Students subsequently enter Biochemistry with some idea of what is to come, and not simply “this is going to be hard and I am required to take it”. End of semester surveys are used to evaluate the benefit of these biochemistry snapshots in helping students see the links between their biomedical interests and what they learn in undergraduate chemistry courses such as organic and biochemistry.