Chemistry Graduate Students Design Courses for Summer@Brown

The School of Professional Studies at Brown University offers opportunities for graduate students to become educators by instructing courses through Pre-College Programs, where middle and high school students from across the world study on Brown’s campus, online, and on location.

Two Chemistry Department graduate students will instruct courses for Summer @ Brown, the largest Pre-College program bringing thousands of middle and high school students to Brown’s campus, in 2018. Student instructors design curricula, activities, and assessments themselves, as well as teach the course (1-4 weeks).

Michelle Muzzio, a third-year graduate student, will instruct a course titled “Tiny Solutions for Big Problems: Introduction to Environmental Nanotechnology.” Michelle’s research focuses on nanoparticle synthesis and catalysis in the lab of Prof. Shouheng Sun. The course will focus on the role of nanotechnology in solving problems that students read and hear about, specifically focusing on the environment. “I’m really excited about this course,” Michelle says, “I want students to consider nanomaterials as a way to remediate… ‘big problems’ that are all over their newsfeeds. We will cover some really exciting examples such as lead and arsenic removal from water, fuel cell and solar cell creation, water desalination, and many others, all of which nanotechnology offers immediate and promising solutions.” The course will feature projects where students learn from each other, as well as incorporate recent scientific literature so students have exposure to analyzing and dissecting peer-reviewed journal articles.

Leonard “Len” Sprague, a second-year graduate student in Professor Brenda Rubenstein’s computational/theoretical chemistry group, will instruct two courses around acid/base chemistry. “Acid/Base Chemistry: From Food to Everyday Phenomena” will be offered as part of Professional Studies’ regular Summer @ Brown programming. The course is laboratory-based, exposing students to acid-base theories within the context of collaborating as a team, using laboratory equipment, investigating phenomena through analytical and instrumental methods, and observing safety practices. Len will also offer a version of the course titled “Explaining the Mysteries of Common Events: Acid/Base Chemistry” for a new program geared toward English Language Learners. This course will feature the same investigative approach, aligned with best practices in facilitating learning for students whose native language is not English. 

The Department recognizes Michelle and Len for their dedication to sparking an interest in chemistry and related fields through Summer @ Brown.