University of Calgary

Dr. Peter Mahaffy, King’s University College, Edmonton AB.

Submitted by jcrawfo on Wed, 2010-05-05 15:34.
2010-05-12 01:34
2010-05-12 13:34

This talk has been arranged by Krista Reese - Nelson Publishing. 

Lecture and Discussion Session
Date: May 12, 2010
Time: 1:30-3:00pm
Room: Earth Sciences 920
*Refreshments provided
RSVP: Krista Reese



May 12, 2010 seminar

University of Calgary

Peter Mahaffy

Professor of Chemistry at the King's University College, Edmonton, Alberta and

Chair, IUPAC Committee on Chemistry Education  

"Making General Chemistry the Experience of a Lifetime".


The UN has recently declared 2011 the International Year of Chemistry (IYC). The global chemistry profession has embraced this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to raise public understanding related to major IYC-2011 themes, which emphasize the fundamental importance of an understanding of chemistry as ‘the basis for medicine and public health, in addressing challenges such as global climate change, in providing sustainable sources of clean water, food, and energy, and in maintaining a wholesome environment for the well-being of all people.'

Students who take general chemistry also present us with (in most cases) a once-in-their-lifetime opportunity to help them see the importance and relevance of chemistry to their lives and to our sustainable future. How can we best take advantage of this opportunity through our curriculum and pedagogical approaches? Can we catalyze an interest in life-long learning about the molecular world by emphasizing the IYC themes in our 1st year courses - every year?

In my talk, I will describe ways we have restructured our general chemistry curriculum to account for what we know from research about how students learn and to connect learning to their lives and to the well-being of our planet. I will illustrate with strategies and examples developed in a new learning resource Chemistry: Human Activity, Chemical Reactivity, in which we place the chemistry of living systems early in the curriculum; use case-based and problem solving approaches to embed content in human and planetary contexts; and make extensive use of interactive molecular-level visualizations, including Odyssey molecular dynamics software and King's Centre for Visualization in Science digital learning objects.

In discussion following the presentation, I hope to learn more about what your visions are for general chemistry in Calgary.

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