Davis & Elkins College chemistry students will soon gain more independence in their research as the result of an instrumentation grant from the National Science Foundation’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dr. Clinton Johnson was recently awarded funding for his proposal titled “Guided-Inquiry Chemistry Laboratories with User-Friendly Instrumentation.”

The $19,956 grant will be used to purchase eight advanced chemistry Vernier instrumentation packages that include touch screen tablets, visible spectrometers and various probes and electrodes. More specialized equipment that works in conjunction with the tablets also will be purchased.

Johnson said the goal of the project is to implement guided-inquiry labs which will ultimately assist in developing students into independent scientists.

“Throughout the semester, the labs will progressively guide students to be more independent,” Johnson explained. “By the second semester, students will be provided with a scientific question, asked to develop a hypothesis and tasked with developing their own procedure to test their hypothesis. The process will be facilitated by the instructor who will promote an active class discussion.”

Johnson said the learning structure will be extended to upper-level chemistry laboratory courses as well.

The EPSCoR Instrumentation Program purchases scientific equipment for advanced undergraduate laboratories to help encourage undergraduate students in West Virginia to continue careers in science, mathematics and engineering.

The Davis & Elkins College chemistry major offers three programs of study: general chemistry, chemistry pre-medical and chemistry secondary education.