P177: Early authentic research projects and teaching the nature of science
Here we give an overview of recent changes to our biology and chemistry majors’ programs in which students participate in multiple authentic short research projects, starting in the second semester of freshmen chemistry. Each project is closely related to faculty research interests in environmental impacts, monitoring and remediation of metal ion contamination, and each is assessed in a similar manner with related rubrics that provide explicit feedback to foster learning of the nature of science. We report on the impacts of these curricular changes on student understanding of the nature of science, the quality of student research papers and posters, and instructor and student satisfaction/excitement for the projects. Particular emphasis will be given in this talk to our challenges concerning the implementation, management and assessment of our semester-long General Chemistry II lab projects in phytoremediation of copper-contaminated soils.