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The National Science Foundation has announced continued support for the Center for Workshops in the Chemical Sciences (CWCS) with an Undergraduate Education, Course, Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement program grant. Of the more than 50 proposals NSF received in this category, fewer than 8 percent were approved and funded.
The grant supports a series of workshops in the chemical sciences for college and university professors directed by Professor Lawrence J. Kaplan of Williams College, Professor Jerry C. Smith, Georgia State University, and Professor David M. Collard, Georgia Institute of Technology.
Responding to the news of the award, Kaplan said, "I am delighted that the NSF awarded us the funds to continue the work of CWCS. Based upon abstracts, past workshop participants submitted for a CWCS-sponsored symposium at the Spring American Chemical Society meeting, it is clear that the workshops have had an enormous effect on the development of new courses, programs, and even majors at many institutions. That impact has been felt not only by the more than 1,000 college and university faculty who have attended the workshops but by their more than 500,000 students."
As its basic mandate, CWCS sponsors workshops in Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy, Chemistry and Art, Environmental Chemistry, Material Science and Nanotechnology, Genomics and Proteomics, Bimolecular Crystallography, Molecular Modeling, Green Chemistry, and Forensic Science.
The workshops provide a background and modern perspective on key areas of the chemical sciences and provide pedagogical methods to introduce these topics into the undergraduate curriculum.
The workshops consist of a mix of classroom work, laboratory experiments, and field trips with extensive interaction between the participants and the instructors as well as between the participants themselves.
They are held at a consortium of institutions including Beloit College, University of Illinois, Georgia State University, University of California at Riverside and at Irvine, Georgia Tech., University of Millersville, Jackson State University, and, of course, Williams College.
Over the past six years, more than 1,000 faculty members, representing over 620 institutions, attended and participated in 67 workshops. The faculty participants have come from across the spectrum from community colleges, four-year undergraduate institutions and major universities.
One hundred fifty participants attended Kaplan's weeklong workshop in forensic science during mid-June on the Williams College campus. The workshop provides an understanding of the application of forensic science to all aspects of undergraduate chemistry instruction. During each workshop, 16 participants from colleges, universities and community colleges become criminalists. They process crime scenes and analyze evidence such as glass and soil, fibers and fingerprints, drugs and alcohol, blood and bullets, and DNA.
With the newly awarded four-year NSF grant of $2,000,000, they will continue the workshops and evaluate the impact of the program. The workshops will serve also as the nuclei for the development of a series of topical Community of Scholars whose goals include adapting, implementing and developing high-quality course content and pedagogy; propagating the use of successful teaching strategies; attracting colleagues and newcomers into the discipline; providing participants remote access to capital equipment and supporting personnel; and providing discussion venues such as online discussion boards and video conferencing.
About Williams College
Williams College is consistently ranked one of the nation's top liberal arts colleges. The college's 2,000 students are taught by a faculty noted for the quality of their teaching and research, and the achievement of academic goals includes active participation of students with faculty in this research. Students' educational experience is enriched by the residential campus environment, which provides a host of opportunities for interaction with one another and with faculty beyond the classroom. Admission decisions are made regardless of a student's financial ability, and the college provides grants and other assistance to meet the demonstrated needs of all who are admitted. Founded in 1793, it is the second oldest institution of higher learning in Massachusetts. The college is located in Williamstown, Mass. To visit the college on the Internet: http://www.williams.edu
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