Mark Paetkau & Mike Abraham
One of the largest challenges facing students transitioning from high school to university is time management. In the sciences time management is exasperated by laboratory components in many courses. Lab components typically take up three hours per week, coupled with 3 hours of lecture, means almost 30 hours of instruction per week for a full course load. Furthermore, high school student may not be used to focusing on a single activity (think chemistry experiment) for three hours, juggling safety and time management with conceptual application. For these reasons it would be useful to give students a taste of a university level lab, specifically the duration, location, and grading.
The proposal would bring up to 50 students to TRU from South Kamloops for a morning laboratory of 3 hours duration. The laboratory would be a university lab setting, complete with pre-lab exercise, lab tasks, lab report, and assigned grade. We would wrap up the even with pizza for lunch. Students will quantitatively characterize moon crater size, then create an experiment to study crater formation as a function of energy. The activities are designed to change the focus from experimenting on concepts learned in the lecture to learning how to design and execute experiments. Student will work on an open-ended lab where they develop the hypothesis, procedure, and data analysis.
A survey will be used to measure the ability of this activity to alter students views on post-secondary education, students’ apprehension prior to and following the laboratory, and their level of engagement. A quick reaction test will be administered to gauge their level of mental fitness at the end of the lab. Of course a central question we would like to address is whether student found attending to be helpful in setting expectations for a university lab and managing anxiety regarding the duration and the grading of the laboratory exercise.