Most science and engineering students take general chemistry as a requirement for their major. However, students may often feel disconnected from chemical education because they cannot appreciate how chemistry relates to their fields of study. One way to form a chemical education connection is to use interdisciplinary research-inspired modules in the general chemistry laboratory. Thus, the four multi-week chemistry lab modules being developed in this project emphasize connections to physics, environmental science and engineering. Additionally, exercises that allow students to develop their own experimental procedures are underrepresented in general chemistry lab manuals.
This is a vital step in bridging the gap between a beginning science/engineering student and an autonomous research-oriented one. The chemical education modules from this project are filling a critical gap among the types of inquiry lab experiments in the education literature. They are designed to cultivate and measure progress in inquiry methods development and to foster positive attitudes about and increase interest in chemistry in particular; both topics are of interest to most chemical educators. Students who might normally be disengaged from their traditional chemistry course favorably view these projects as interesting and informative. Educators wishing to illustrate the relationship between chemistry and other fields are interested in this project's development of interdisciplinary lab modules and they can also use the experiments developed from this project directly.