NSF Grant Funds Inorganic Chemistry Curriculum and Faculty Development

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The National Science Foundation has awarded $437,962 to the Interactive Online Network of Inorganic Chemists (IONiC), a group co-founded by Harvey Mudd College chemistry Professor Adam Johnson.

The four-year grant will fund a multi-institutional, collaborative project that will introduce inorganic chemistry faculty to the latest research and guide them through the development of new teaching materials. The materials produced will be disseminated to the global teaching community through VIPEr (Virtual Inorganic Pedagogical Electronic Resource), IONiC’s website and social networking hub.

Titled “IONiC: Transforming Education Through Collaborative Development of Materials at the Frontiers of Inorganic Chemistry,” the project will feature four summertime faculty development workshops, each focused on one main subfield of inorganic chemistry.

“These workshops will capture the most exciting and cutting-edge research taking place in the field of inorganic chemistry and make it available in ready-to-use modules that can be dropped into an existing undergraduate course,” said Johnson. “The project will strengthen the connections between researchers and teachers by bringing them together to talk about research and teaching at the forefront of inorganic chemistry.”

Each workshop will include keynote messages from multiple experts, followed by several days of breakout sessions and tutorials to develop classroom-ready teaching materials that capture the excitement and importance of the workshop theme for students.

The first workshop, which will be held at Penn State in the summer of 2013, will focus on solid state and materials chemistry, which involve technologies such as solar cells, transistors and electronics. Future workshops will explore bioinorganic chemistry (2014, Northwestern University), catalysis (2015, University of Washington) and organometallics (2016, University of Michigan).

The Interactive Online Network of Inorganic Chemists (IONiC) formed in 2006 to share content and best practices for teaching and learning in inorganic chemistry. Its website and social networking hub—VIPEr—has more than 500 registered faculty users who share teaching resources, advice and evidence of student learning.