2012 ACS-CEI Award Recipients

David R. Brown

Chemistry Department, Southwestern College

Project iLASER – A Celebration of the International Year of Chemistry 2011

Project iLASER (investigations with Light And Sustainable Energy Resources) is an NSF-supported endeavor to celebrate the International Year of Chemistry 2011 (IYC). The project engages children living along the U.S.-Mexico international border, from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, in hands-on learning activities with a central theme of sustainable energy. The project is well-aligned with the goals of IYC and provides children in Boys and Girls Clubs, elementary and middle schools with hands-on opportunities to explore the potential of powering the planet with sunlight. The Project iLASER curriculum offers participants a first-hand tour through the science and technology of silicon-based photovoltaic cells, PEM hydrogen fuel cells and dyesensitized solar cells to model electrical power production utilizing only sunlight and water. Project partners include the Powering the Planet Center for Chemical Innovation at Caltech, the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkeley and the Children’s Museum of Houston.

Nancy E. Carpenter, Ted M. Pappenfus, Timothy J. Soderberg

Division of Science and Math, University of Minnesota, Morris

Renewable Energy and Sustainable Chemistry Across the Undergraduate Chemistry Curriculum

Sustainability issues facing our world connect directly to the field of chemistry. To address this connection, we are in the process of integrating important elements of renewable energy and sustainable chemistry across the undergraduate chemistry curriculum at the University of Minnesota, Morris. This NSF-sponsored project (DUE #0941920) strives to create a curriculum which is more interdisciplinary with respect to both teaching and research and which introduces topics that are timely, yet essential in preparing undergraduate students. Our initial efforts have focused on three key areas: (i) developing new courses in renewable energy and sustainability; (ii) integrating photovoltaics across the undergraduate curriculum; and (iii) illustrating the role of biochemistry in renewable energy and sustainability. Our goal is to develop a far-reaching energy and sustainable chemistry curriculum that complements the traditional curriculum and better prepares our future graduates for success in addressing global problems.

Peter Mahaffy

Natural Sciences Department, The King’s University College, Edmonton, Alberta

Sustainability of our Planet and of Engaged and Active Learning in Chemistry

The earth’s atmosphere and oceans have been fundamentally altered since the industrial revolution, often at rates that greatly exceed those in the historical and recent geological record. Understanding and responding to changes in our planetary boundaries is one of the most important challenges facing our modern world. Yet climate change science, with its complex links to both natural processes and human activity, has fallen into a systemic hole in the science education system at both secondary and post-secondary levels.

Marcy Towns

Department of Chemistry, Purdue University

Weaving Climate Science into General Chemistry and the Development of the Chemistry of Climate Science Misconceptions Instrument

Student misconceptions research forms a robust literature in chemistry and physics education. A review of five decades of science education relating to climate in general and climate change in particular demonstrates that basic climate science has not been well addressed. Key misconceptions and misinformation about basic climate science; the role of human activities and reliance on fossil fuels on the climate system; and the consensus among the climate research community about the issues, are commonly held by students (McCaffery, 2008).

We seek to develop a Chemistry of Climate Science Inventory for use in chemistry courses including liberal arts courses. Our goal is to develop an instrument that would identify the presence and prevalence of chemistry misconceptions associated with climate science. We will present interview data relevant to the development of such an instrument and emergent findings about student misconceptions of climate science within the context of general chemistry.

Mary Anne White

Department of Chemistry, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Energy, Advanced Materials and Sustainability

Advanced materials will play an important role in energy harvesting and energy storage. However, such approaches must have a sustainable foundation, for example in terms of the availability of required elements and full energy cycle considerations. The DREAMS (Dalhousie University Research in Energy, Advanced Materials and Sustainability) program is a novel, nationally funded project, training graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and summer undergraduate research students in sustainable approaches to materials research, with an emphasis on energy research. A fundamental part of this program is a novel graduate course, Sustainable Materials Issues, which considers resource consumption and its drivers, eco-audits and eco-audit tools, life-cycle analysis including exergy, green chemistry, eco-informed materials selection and sustainable approaches to development of advanced materials. This content of this course provides a sustainable approach that should be part of the knowledge base of all research chemists.

York University Chemical Industry Education Centre
David Waddington  (James Clark, Joy Parvin, Gayle Pook, Louise Summerton)

Department of Chemistry University of York, York, UK

Teaching Sustainability: 40 Years of Experience

The University of York’s Chemistry Department has been teaching and developing curriculum materials addressing sustainability of over four decades. This curriculum-development work began within its own undergraduate courses and now encompasses instructional materials impacting primary (K-6) and secondary (7-12) education, undergraduate, postgraduate teaching, and outreach activities for the general public. This is all based within two groups that conduct high quality chemistry and education research—the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence and the Chemical Industry Education Centre. Both share three common features:

  • Embedded within the teaching of chemistry at the appropriate level;
  • Based on contemporary educational practice and informed by research;
  • Developed so that the materials can be implemented, with appropriate adjustments, within other nations.

This presentation provides examples of each area of work and guides for further reading. It also describes project influences with the UK and worldwide.