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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

Table of Contents

Abstract Volume 1 Issue 4 (1996), S1430-4171(96)04052-6

Environmental Chemistry in the General Chemistry Laboratory, Part I: A Context-Based Approach To Teaching Chemistry

Susan Kegley,* Angelica M. Stacy, and Marnie K. Carroll

Department of Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-1460

Published online: 30 September1996

Abstract. This is the first of two closely-related articles describing a context-based approach to teaching first-year chemistry. This first article provides details of the methods for teaching the course, and the following article discusses the student evaluation data obtained for the project. The goals of the project were threefold: (1) to increase students interest in science early in their academic careers, particularly women and minority students; (2) to raise students awareness of the connections between chemistry and real-life issues; and (3) to engender a more sophisticated view of science among students. To achieve these goals, we created a module-based laboratory curriculum in which the students spend three to four weeks learning chemistry in the context of a specific environmental problem. Five modules have been developed on the topics of drinking-water quality, lead in urban parks and gardens, pesticides in fruits and vegetables, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in marine sediments, and risk assessment related to hair dye use. A variety of alternative teaching techniques were employed to increase student participation and motivation. This paper will present an overview of these new laboratory experiments.

Key Words:  In the Classroom; teaching; environmental; general chemistry; laboratory

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

Article in PDF format (81 KB)

Issue date: September 30 , 1996

The Chemical Educator 1996-2017