P966: Adding data workshops to spectroscopic experiments in order to teach students how to puzzle out solution strategies

Author: Will Hollingsworth, Carleton College, USA


Date: 8/7/14

Time: 9:35 AM9:55 AM

Room: MAN 123

Related Symposium: S56

Traditionally many physical chemistry labs have been run as straightforward exercises with definite procedures and prescribed solutions. This approach does not encourage independent exploration; nowhere is this approach worse than in spectroscopic labs where the same spectra yield essentially identical results every time. We have tried to improve these labs by staging them with an eye toward puzzling out the patterns first and using theory and logic to work out solutions later. While this method is ultimately rewarding for many students, it is more difficult for the students when we disguise the exact path to the end. At Carleton College, we have found it useful to run workshops during later lab times so the students have an opportunity to examine how the spectroscopic patterns can be connected to appropriate solutions. All students seem to benefit from this extra step, even the stronger ones.

P325: Pitching a bigger tent: Teaching introductory chemistry with an atmospheric focus facilitates the inclusion of global environmental issues

Author: Will Hollingsworth, Carleton College, USA


Date: 8/4/14

Time: 4:00 PM4:20 PM

Room: MAK A1165

Related Symposium: S26

The first wave of incorporating environmental issues into the chemistry curriculum that started in the 1970s missed an important niche: it limited treatment at the introductory level to primarily non-technical courses for the non-science major. Historically, respecting the level of complexity in environmental topics meant scientific treatments were reserved for the graduate and advanced undergraduate levels and were therefore inaccessible to most students. In recent decades, the increased urgency of global issues such as ozone depletion and the increased trapping of energy by greenhouse gases has demanded that educators rethink the importance of teaching these critical topics to the larger introductory audience. For several years, I have been teaching an introductory chemistry class that uses an earth-systems science approach with an emphasis on the atmosphere. This approach has required adding only a few supplemental topics, which will be outlined in this talk. With the earth-systems approach, students leave the course not only with a full introduction to the fundamentals of chemistry-such as kinetics, thermodynamics, and equilibrium-but they are also equipped to apply these same fundamentals to gain a direct understanding of how the earth system is changing. An added advantage of introducing chemistry in this way is that it allows chemistry to become more directly relevant to important interdisciplinary environmental discussions.