Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Turning the tables in chemistry

11.06.2007
Brandeis University revamping science education to attract more diverse students

What do glowing veggies have to do with a career in science" It just so happens that electrified pickles swimming in metal ions are one example of the type of undergraduate chemistry class demonstration that helps make a future in science a bright possibility, rather than a total turn-off, for many students.

In a commentary in this month’s Nature Chemical Biology, Brandeis University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Professor Irving Epstein outlines a gathering storm clouding the future of U.S. science and prescribes a series of strategies to help avert a looming national crisis. Epstein says the continued success of U.S. science is seriously threatened by the fact that increasing numbers of undergraduates, particularly the disadvantaged, are writing off a career in science.

Why? Many students find introductory science, and chemistry in particular, both difficult and dull the way it is conventionally taught at the college level, discouraging many potential scientists before they ever have the chance to get hooked on science.

... more about:
»Epstein »disadvantaged »undergraduate

“Anyone who teaches an introductory science course at one of this country’s elite universities is familiar with the sea of white faces he or she encounters, and the tendency of that ocean to whiten even more as the semester progresses and as one moves up the ladder of courses,” writes Epstein, who last year won $1 million from HHMI to revamp introductory chemistry at Brandeis with an eye to luring—and retaining—more students in science, particularly disadvantaged ones.

“We need to ask ourselves why science is unattractive to so many students, particularly (but by no means exclusively), to underrepresented minority students,” writes Epstein. He believes that conventional science teaching and passive learning are primary culprits, because they rely too heavily on lecturing as well as unrelated and unexciting laboratory experiments.

Epstein proposes a variety of strategies aimed at capturing the imaginations of potential scientists, all of which maximize interaction among undergraduates, teachers, material, yes, even dill pickles, and contemporary technology, such as video games. The overall goal, says Epstein, is to bring the thrill of discovery and learning back into the science classroom.

But beyond that, Epstein’s HHMI project involves recruiting and retaining disadvantaged students in collaboration with the Posse Foundation, an organization that selects and trains “posses” of inner-city students to succeed in college. The students are chosen for their academic and leadership abilities. Epstein’s plan is to create a “science posse” at Brandeis each year that will build on the existing Posse program’s strengths but add features tailored specifically to science, such as a two-week pre-Brandeis “boot camp,” paid lab jobs, and academic support.

“If we can succeed in making chemistry more appealing to students by reawakening their instinctive curiosity about the world, and attract and retain more disadvantaged students in chemistry, the impact will be felt well beyond a single discipline, a single university, and a single nation,” says Epstein.

Laura Gardner | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.brandeis.edu

Further reports about: Epstein disadvantaged undergraduate

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht How brains surrender to sleep
23.06.2017 | IMP - Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pathologie GmbH

nachricht A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>