About GEMs

GEMs is an interactive tool for the organization and dissemination of core green chemistry educational materials. Our goal is to facilitate the incorporation of green chemistry materials into the curriculum by providing information about laboratory exercises, lecture materials, course syllabi and multimedia content that illustrate chemical concepts important for green chemistry. This project compliments efforts by the American Chemical Society's Green Chemistry Institute and the Environmental Protection Agency to make green chemistry educational materials more accessible to chemical educators. In addition we hope that the database will catalyze the formation of a green chemistry education community not limited by traditional chemistry disciplines or institutional setting.

Database Structure and Content

GEMs is a living database of green chemistry educational materials. Users can identify content via free text searching or by selecting search terms from one or more of the following categories:

Search results can be sorted by author, date, title or content type (laboratory, course content or multimedia). Each item in the collection has an overview page that includes a summary of the item and its connection to green chemistry. In addition, the overview page includes a list of category descriptors that identify the key chemistry concepts, laboratory techniques, green chemistry principles, chemistry subdiscipline and target audience for each item.

If available, users can also view a summary of additional resources that may include Ideas for Implementation, Assessment Materials, Demonstrations and Links to Related Resources.

New for 2009, we have incorporated the opportunity for threaded discussions associated with each item in the collection. A threaded discussion is an online dialog or conversation where an original message and all of its replies are linked together. The series or thread is created over time as users read and reply to existing messages. Threaded discussions can be used to assist educators when choosing the most suitable materials for their courses and to provide valuable information about tips for adoption, suggested modifications and success stories. Please join in the development of this resource by sharing your experiences as you incorporate green chemistry into your curriculum.

We believe that collaborative efforts to expand the database content are critical for successful adoption of the database as an effective resource. We will solicit original submissions from chemical educators, researchers and industrial scientists. Inclusion of unpublished material will provide for rapid dissemination and utilization of materials as they are developed.

We are actively recruiting educators that are interested in reviewing classroom materials, testing laboratory procedures or modifying content for other age groups. Please let us know if you would like to help with these activities.

Incorporating Green Chemistry into your Curriculum

The practice of chemistry is rapidly undergoing dramatic changes and the rise of green chemistry in industry and academia provides a rare opportunity to connect the undergraduate curriculum with these important changes. As environmental awareness has grown, chemists have become increasingly focused on the discovery of methods for environmentally benign chemical synthesis and processing (“Green Chemistry”). Green Chemistry is the redesign of chemical transformation and processes to reduce or eliminate the use of materials that are hazardous to human health and the environment. In essence, green chemistry breaks the cycle of pollute/clean-up by preventing pollution in the first place.

The strategies and tools of green chemistry are essential for students who will be key players in addressing the national need to discover and develop new and more sustainable chemical processes. Equally important is the opportunity to introduce these strategies and methods to an even larger group of students who will not become practicing chemists, but rather educators, policy makers, and concerned citizens who what to be educated participants in our modern technological society.

The incorporation of green chemistry principles into the chemistry curriculum provides new opportunities to enhance the curriculum and engage a broader spectrum of students in the study of chemistry. The proactive approach that green chemistry takes appeals to students because many of them care deeply about their environment and are looking for a way to make a difference in society. Although the American Chemical Society, the Green Chemistry Institute and the National Science Foundation support curriculum development in green chemistry, the demand for educational materials that teach the tools and strategies of green chemistry in parallel with other fundamental chemical concepts and techniques exceeds the supply.

The incorporation of green chemistry principles into the chemistry curriculum has fueled a fundamentally new approach to the teaching of chemistry. The GEMs database will serve as a rich and efficient resource for the rapid development and dissemination of modern, innovative curricula in chemistry.

Credits

The design and development of the GEMs database has been a highly collaborative process involving the Green Chemistry Group in the Department of Chemistry and the Center for Educational Technologies at the University of Oregon. We would like to recognize the following individuals for their contributions to the project:

Project Coordinator
Julie Haack (Department of Chemistry, University of Oregon)
Database Design and Programming
Robert Albano (Department of Chemistry, University of Oregon)
Content Specialists
Dana R. Garves (Department of Chemistry, University of Oregon), Douglas M. Young (Department of Chemistry, University of Oregon)
GEMs Server Administration
Eric Bylund (Technical Science Administration, University of Oregon)
User Interface Design and Usability
Center for Educational Technologies - Interactive Media: Kirstin Hierholzer (Project Manager), Azle Malinao-Alvarez (Educational Technology Consultant), David McCallum (Multimedia Authoring Spec.) and JQ Johnson (Director, Center for Educational Technologies, University of Oregon).
Financial Support
We gratefully acknowledge support from the National Science Foundation's Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE-0088986) and the following University of Oregon Groups; College of Arts and Sciences, the Instructional Technology Fellowship Program and the Department of Chemistry.