An integrated inquiry-based experience centered around a field trip to the Huffman Dam on Mad River, Dayton, Ohio, was designed for pre-education science students preparing to become teachers at the primary and secondary level. We used chemical equilibrium to illustrate the hypothesis that students learn equilibrium concepts better when engaged in a combination of field and lab experiences than when taught in a traditional setting. Students did not gain anything in a traditional setting. However, the content normalized gain index was 0.60 when chemical equilibrium was taught using this inquiry based field-lab experience in an integrated environment. Chemical equilibrium theory was taught by applying its concepts to understand water quality in the Mad River. Water quality was analyzed and explained as being impacted by the mineral dissolution from the surrounding rock. As a result, students appreciated learning equilibrium chemistry through an integration of chemistry, hydrology, and geology. The purposes of the chemical equilibrium lesson were to employ inquiry methods to learning science; hands-on approach in gathering data; evaluation of data in understanding scientific theory and application of inquiry, and evaluation in the classroom. Activities are described and illustrate in detail how the geology and chemistry content of chemical equilibrium were integrated and evaluated.
- S.K. Lunsford (Wright State University), K.V. Nedunuri (Central State University), and Michael Sandy (University of Dayton)