Katie Barker, Chemistry

CHEM 132: General Chemistry II with Lab 

Adjusted Syllabi for CHEM 132: General Chemistry II with Lab 

The opportunity to connect with faculty outside my discipline made the Valley and Ridge Workshop especially valuable.  I got a feel for the language of sustainability, a chance to discuss appropriate teaching and assessment strategies and a better understanding of how I can connect my topic with other disciplines and with the broader field of sustainability. The chance to learn about the Cumberland Valley’s geology from atop Waggoner’s Gap was especially helpful.  

My project will integrate the chemistry and impact of historic iron production in Central Pennsylvania into my regularly offered section of the second semester of General Chemistry, CHEM 132. Students will connect their understanding of chemistry at the level of the atom to the chemical processes that fueled the iron age and to their ongoing effects on the human condition.  They will improve their thinking skills and their connection to the area of the Cumberland Valley.

In-class content will include:

  • The concept of sustainability
  • The chemistry and metallurgy of iron production
  • Relevant lecture demonstrations
  • Local landscape and geology
  • Environmental and economic effects
  • Small group discussions: Was the practice sustainable? Was it equitable?
  • Speaker: a local expert on historic iron production

The highlight will be a place-based learning trip to Pine Grove Furnace State Park where students will explore the furnace stack, charcoal hearths, the ore quarry and an exceptional view of the valley from Pole Steeple.  Students will produce a brief written reflection on their field experience.  Later, they’ll complete a writing assignment that will require them to look beyond the chemistry, thinking critically about overall effects of local iron production on the environment and human well-being past and future.