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Title: Implementing the Elements of Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs) in a First-Year Undergraduate Chemistry Laboratory with Bioremediation Relevance
General chemistry laboratories are a core requirement for nearly all STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) majors and have the greatest breadth in disciplines and audience of any STEM course at a university. A bioremediation Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) for first-year undergraduate students was developed to capture and engage student interest for this diverse group. In this multiweek laboratory exercise, students joined an NSF-funded research project designed to enhance the bioremediation of chlorinated aliphatic hydrocarbons. Students explored various biocompatible polymer blends and cross-linkers for encapsulation to create protection for bioremediation microbes. In this “guided research” model, students constructed the measurement apparatus, made hydrogel blends, and then monitored the diffusion of acid via pH measurements using a custom instrument. Herein, we describe how CURE elements were implemented within the bioremediation research experience culminating in student teams presenting posters at our university’s undergraduate research symposium. An open-laboratory format facilitated an active research group experience and recitation “group meeting” provided flexibility and needed time for reflection and discussion. Student survey data and course evaluations indicated that students saw value in this genuine research experience and enjoyed the freedom and time to practice and hone skills as both a scientist and teammate in a laboratory setting.  more » « less
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Journal of Chemical Education
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National Science Foundation
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