P283: Uptake and impacts of silver nanoparticles on Brassica rapa: A research-based laboratory experience
The process of discovery in a laboratory, including its joys and frustrations, is often overshadowed in the teaching of chemistry by instruction of content knowledge and specific technical skills. A consequence of this paradigm is that many students who may be engaged by the puzzle of the scientific method are lost early-on in a typical chemistry curriculum. Here a semester-long laboratory sequence developed for a nonmajors course, where students investigate the potential environmental impacts of nanoscience, will be presented. Students synthesized and characterized silver nanoparticles using green synthetic methods. These suspensions of silver nanoparticles where then used to “water” Wisconsin Fast Plants, Brassica rapa, over a three to four week period to simulate environmental exposure. Students monitor the growth rate of the plants to examine possible impacts. Silver uptake by the plants was quantified at the end of the growth period. This lab requires design input from the student, and no a priori knowledge of the outcomes was known, making it an authentic research experience. Although designed for nonmajors, this lab could easily be adapted for a first or second year chemistry course.