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CBE Life Sci Educ. 2006 Spring;5(1):76-84.

General chemistry: expanding the learning outcomes and promoting interdisciplinary connections through the use of a semester-long project.

Author information

1
Department of Chemistry, Bates College, Lewiston, ME 04240, USA. twenzel@bates.edu

Abstract

The laboratory component of a first-semester general chemistry course for science majors is described. The laboratory involves a semester-long project undertaken in a small-group format. Students are asked to examine whether plants grown in soil contaminated with lead take up more lead than those grown in uncontaminated soil. They are also asked to examine whether the acidity of the rainwater affects the amount of lead taken up by the plants. Groups are then given considerable independence in the design and implementation of the experiment. Once the seeds are planted, which takes about 4 wk into the term, several shorter experiments are integrated in before it is time to harvest and analyze the plants. The use of a project and small working groups allows for the development of a broader range of learning outcomes than occurs in a "traditional" general chemistry laboratory. The nature of these outcomes and some of the student responses to the laboratory experience are described. This particular project also works well at demonstrating the connections among chemistry, biology, geology, and environmental studies.

PMID:
17012193
PMCID:
PMC1635136
DOI:
10.1187/cbe.05-05-0077
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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