Dr. Preetha Ram
(Chemistry, Emory University)
The faculty Science Council, Emory College and the
Center for Science Education provided Dr. Preetha Ram, senior lecturer
in the Chemistry department with a stipend to develop a senior seminar
writing intensive course, The Chemical World: New Perspectives
over summer 2000.
Preetha researched the topics, discussed the content
of the course with several faculty colleagues in the sciences and
humanities and developed a course syllabus and outline. Since it
will involve the participation of faculty from different disciplines,
Preetha also investigated the common team teaching styles in the
College. She participated in a university wide discussion on Team
teaching in order to understand better how other faculty have incorporated
team teaching in their courses.
Based on the work done during summer, Preetha wrote
up a description of the course and submitted it to the Undergraduate
Committee in the Chemistry department and then the College Curriculum
committee. The course was approved by the curriculum committee and
will be offered in Spring 2001.
Chem 468SWR, The Chemical World: New Perspectives
is designed for chemistry majors, many of whom are medical school
bound. Many of them are joint majors in some other science discipline
- usually biology. Most of the chemistry courses taken by these
students - from Chem. 141 (freshman general chemistry) to the upper
level Chem. 441 (Biochemistry) are focused and content rich. They
are seldom interdisciplinary, rarely discussion based and often
do not offer our students a much needed opportunity to gain a unified
perspective of chemistry or the role of science in our society.
The Chemical World will be interdisciplinary, discussion based and
will provide our students with an opportunity to gain a unified
perspective of chemistry and the role of the sciences in our society.
Topics for seminar/discussion will be chosen for their timeliness,
relevance, societal impact, interdisciplinary content and scientific
content. Faculty experts from other departments or programs will
be invited to participate in the course and in the subsequent discussion.
Each of the topics chosen will have material in it
that comes from at least one non-science discipline. Topics include:
- Cocaine: Chemistry and structure of cocaine. (Chemistry/Biochemistry).
Social impact (Sociology). Legalization of drugs? Criminal behavior
of the addict (Violence Studies). Economics of Cocaine (Economics).
- Beginnings of life on earth - (Science and Religion, Philosophy).
- The Pill: The story of its synthesis. The man who discovered
it - Carl Djerassi (Chemistry/Biochemistry). Social and economic
impact on women (Women's studies).
- Silcon and the computer revolution: Why silicon? (Chemistry
and Physics) What has it done for us? (Computer science, sociology)
Implications for the future: the Bionic Man?
- Arsenic in ground water: A public health nightmare in Bangla
Desh (Public Health, CDC)
Preetha also received help from the Hughes initiative
in continuing the development of Virtual
Sherlock (log in as "Group1" and use "group1"
as the password - it is case-sensitive). Virtual Sherlock is a web
based problem based learning environment. It was initially developed
with funds from the College in the form of a Culpeper summer fellowship.
In Virtual Sherlock, students try to solve a crime
using the clues and information available. The problem solving process
requires students to use the library and the internet to look for
additional information, learn, understand and apply it in order
to solve the crime. The program is now completely operational. Students
should be able to post their work online and also carry out a discussion
online. Students in my analytical lab, CHEM 292L will be working
on the program in a week. There are 8 students this semester in
the course. (4 males and 4 females, three Asian Americans and no
African Americans) Their experiences will provide me with valuable
feedback that will help in the future design and development of
these web based units.
Last year, 12 students participated in the Virtual
Sherlock project. Their comments were quite varied. (Copy of comments
already provided to Hughes). There were two African American (female
students), five asian-american, and the rest were white. There were
five female students. This year, 8 students are participating in
the project. There are two female students and six male students.
There are two asian-american students. Preetha has presented the
project at several national and international meetings.
Content Chemistry: General principles of density,
Spectroscopy, chromatography, neutron activation analysis, HPLC,
Fibers, polymer chemistry, arsenic chemistry and biochemistry Biological
chemistry: viruses, biochemistry of arsenic, DNA testing, protein
structure, blood alcohol level, biological effects of high blood
alcohol levels Law: issues relating to testing for blood alcohol
testing, rights of individuals
projects based on this semesters work with Virtual Sherlock.