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Intro Chem & Intro Bio Connections to change the title use the 'Full Editing Tools' option on the right

Daniela Kohen, Chemistry, Carleton College
Dan Hernandez, Biology, Carleton College

This information was derived from your initial application. The goals and assessment sections should be updated as you move through the project.
Chem 123 & Bio 126
Number of Students in Class: ~40 and ~80

Project Description

Professors Daniel Hernández (Biology) and Daniela Kohen (Chemistry) propose the development of curriculum to make connections between introductory biology and chemistry courses. In particular, we hope to use to concept of energy flow to increase the transfer of knowledge for students in biology and chemistry courses. We believe the concept of energy flow, while integral to introductory courses in both disciplines, is often abstract and difficult to grasp for biology and chemistry students alike. Too often, students in biology fail to see how their chemistry background may be useful in understanding energy flow in biological systems and chemistry students struggle with concepts such as bond energy and acid-base reactions without "real world" applications.

We aim to improve the discussion of energy flow in our courses, increase our familiarity with the topics covered in introductory biology and chemistry, and develop exercises and examples that center around themes taught in both courses. For example, the complexities and environmental issues related to the nitrogen cycle, from the biological fixation of atmospheric nitrogen to the pH dependence of inorganic nitrogen transformations is a topic frequently covered by Professor Hernández in his introductory biology course and could be used as a "real world" example in teaching thermodynamics and acid-base reactions in Professor Kohen's chemistry course. We expect there are other areas of common ground between the two courses (e.g., photosynthesis and chemoautotrophy) that may provide interesting opportunities for activities in both courses.

To develop these lectures and class activities, we propose a three-step process over two years. First, we will make visits to each other's classes in Spring 2013 and Winter 2014 to see how each partner addresses the concept of energy flow – the terminology used, topics covered, and potential common ground for increasing knowledge transfer between biology and chemistry courses (at least 3 class visits by each participant). Following our class visits we will meet for follow-up discussions. Second, during summer 2014 we will develop curriculum around a single topic and plan for implementation during the 2014/15 academic year. Third, we will implement the curriculum changes in our classes, make class visits, and meet for follow-up discussions. We are requesting one week during year 1 to offset the time spent in class visits and follow-up meetings, and two weeks in year 2 for curriculum planning, class visits, and meetings.


Transfer basic chem concepts into bio problems and viceversa Find motivations in tackling difficult problems by realizing their importance


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Progress Report

Description and Teaching Materials

References and Resources

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Lessons Learned

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