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Revision as of 17:45, 16 August 2006


Cover Page

Project Abstract

Earlham College requests $358,877 to develop multidisciplinary science curriculum modules and student/faculty research projects focusing on a common core problem: metals in the environment. This project will emphasize collaboration among our natural science departments, including biology, chemistry, computer science, geosciences, mathematics, and environmental science. Scientific research is becoming increasingly multidisciplinary, collaborative, and computational. Therefore, it is essential to train our students to develop multi-faceted approaches to problem solving that use both traditional laboratory techniques and computational methods. This project will introduce an important scientific problem (metals in the environment), ask students to collect and analyze data, and to make interpretations using different disciplinary perspectives. This idea of collaborative multidisciplinary learning will transform our undergraduate curriculum in the sciences and provide a model for programs among the sciences at other liberal arts colleges.

Project Narrative

Maximum of 25 pages conforming to the following requirements:

Proposals that do not comply with these requirements will not be accepted

Section A, Project Description

Statement of the work to be undertaken and expected significance.

Objectives/goals for the proposed work.

Project timeline keyed to the objectives/goals.

Relation of the objectives to:

Concise description of methods and procedures for implementation and experimentation.



Sample the aquatic biota (macropthytes and animals) of Springwood Park Lake in order to 1) describe and quantify the food chains; 2) evaluate the extent of bioaccumulation of metals by those organisms; and 3) assess the rates of biomagnification occuring in higher trophic levels.

Methods: We plan a full inventory of the biota of Springwood Park Lake: Plants will be sampled manually; invertebrates by plankton tows, nets, and dredges; and vertebrates by seine or fyke nets. We will use mark-recapture studies (using injection of passive integrated transponders [PIT tags]) to estimate population sizes and standing crop biomass of macrovertebrates (fish and turtles). Gut content analysis (by dissection for invertebrates, and non-destructive stomach flushing of vertebrates) will be used to determine food chains. Tissue samples (non-destructive whenever possible) will be analyzed in the laboratory for metal concentrations and these values will be related to the trophic ecology of individual species. We would also do sampling of tissues of these same organisms in other county lakes as reference values for these general region.


Course Module-GEOS211 Physical Geology (this is approximately one page of single-spaced text in MS Word)

Physical Geology at Earlham is an introductory-level course that is taken by both science and non-science majors. Students in this course who are non-science majors generally lack confidence in their ability to “do” science and have had little to no exposure to an inquiry-based science classroom. In this course module, students will apply basic geologic methods of analysis to an environmental project. By the end of this module, students will be able to:

Use web-based GIS to display and organize data relevant to the characterization of the project site. Use field and laboratory observations to describe the geology of the project site. Organize and analyze geochemical data to make interpretations about the heavy metal concentrations in the region of the project site. Create a scientific report synthesizing the results of the project and suggesting areas for further study. Upon completion of the project, selected students will present results to other introductory-level students participating in courses with applied modules. All students will then be required to write a report describing the different approaches and results each of these courses takes in studying this environmental problem. (may be revised based on how we decide to structure our multidisciplinary efforts)

This module will use the final four laboratory sessions in Physical Geology. Students will have a basic background in geology and will be able to apply that knowledge to the local area. Each laboratory section has a maximum of twenty-two students, with one professor and one upper-level undergraduate teaching assistant.

Week One: Readings and worksheets will focus on the general problem of metals in the environment. This will be keyed to discussions of the hydrologic cycle with an emphasis placed on the connection between groundwater flow and subsurface geology. Students will begin to learn how to use web-based GIS to create displays of the study area.

Week Two: Field trip to the project site. Students will examine the geology of the project site (Springwood Lake) and participate in a demonstration of sampling a sediment core from the lake.

Week Three: Students will, in teams, describe a suite of sediment cores, in terms of sediment texture, color, sorting, or other sedimentological differences.

Week Four: Students will be given geochemical data keyed to the cores described in Week Three (geochemical data will have been collected by upper-level geochemistry students or will have been collected as part of a summer research project). Students will be required to plot and analyze this data and make interpretations about the concentrations of heavy metals in Springwood Lake over time as a result of their analysis. Students will then write a full scientific report of this project and share the results with other introductory-level science students working on different aspects of this project.

computer science


Technical problems that may be encountered and how they will be addressed.

Roles of all key project personnel.

Organization chart of key project personnel.

Description of facilities, equipment and resources available for the project.

Equipment requests should:

Plans for this project beyond the proposed time period, including financial support.

Describe how the success of the project will be evaluated in terms of the goals proposed. Include information regarding outside review committees, if appropriate.

Project Budget Form

Budget Narrative

Recognition Statement

Describe the manner in which the institution will recognize and acknowledge a W. M. Keck Foundation grant for this project.

Project Documents

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