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Nancy Serrell
Director of Science and Technology Outreach
Dartmouth College, Office of the Provost
6068 Blunt Alumni Center, Room 309
Hanover, NH 03755
Telephone: (603) 646-9756
Fax: (603) 646-3733
E-mail: Nancy Serrell
Sara Riordan
Science Outreach Coordinator
Dartmouth College, Office of the Provost 
6068 Blunt Alumni Center
Hanover, NH 03775
Telephone: (603) 646-0397
Fax: (603) 646-3733
E-mail: Sara Riordan 

Inquiry Science at Dartmouth

Faculty and their graduate students work with the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning (DCAL) to develop inquiry-based science 'modules' related to their research. Ideally, these modules are 1-2 hours in length and incorporate hands-on activities. Training through DCAL is available on the development of effective inquiry-based modules. Once a module is developed it is published on the Dartmouth Outreach website and Nancy Serrell, Director of Outreach, will connect researchers with K-12 teachers in the area who might be interested in adopting the module or having a graduate student or faculty member visit their classroom to present the module.

Inquiry Modules developed by Dartmouth GK-12 Fellows, Faculty and Partner Teachers

Overview: This module introduces students to the chemical and physical changes that occur when a chemical reaction has taken place. Students will observe several reactions before being asked to determine which of two experiments leads to a chemical reaction.

Overview: This lesson is an exploration into the mathematical world of tiling. It is an incredible fact that the number of domino tilings of a 2 x n rectangle is precisely the Fibonacci numbers. Students will work in groups to construct the tilings of 2 x n rectangles with dominoes. They will then conjecture how many tilings there are of an arbitrary 2 x n rectangle and work to explain why their conjecture is true.

  • Glacier Flow  developed by Rebecca Williams, Ph.D. candidate, Engineering

Overview: The focus of this activity is to understand the different aspects of glacier flow and the material parameters that affect flow velocity. This module is appropriate for students studying calculus.

Overview: Bacteria and other microorganisms are everywhere around us, and the discovery of the importance of hygiene and hand-washing was a key advancement in public health in the 19th and early 20th century. With this experiment students will learn to visualize microorganisms on growth plates, and learn about the importance and efficacy of various hand washing techniques.

Overview: This activity focuses on how we distinguish things that are living from those that are not living. Students are encouraged to imagine a new species and to use the six characteristics of life to justify that the organism that they imagine is alive.

  • Math and Music  developed by Megan Martinez, Ph.D. candidate, Mathematics and Alex Barnett in conjunction with Ilene Kanoff

Overview: This lesson is an exploration into the mathematical world of music. Students will learn about the relationship between pitch, frequency, and period. Students will then apply their knowledge by constructing their own set of pan pipes.

  • The Number Devil  developed by Megan Martinez, Ph.D. candidate, Mathematics and Ilene Kanoff

Overview: This lesson focuses on incorporating reading, writing, critical thinking, and independence into the math classroom. Students will work in groups to read an assigned chapter from the mathematical fiction book, The Number Devil, by Hans Magnus Enzenberger. Students will then be responsible for the math concepts covered in their assigned chapters, will compose a writing piece detailing the math, and create a technology presentation to share this information with the other students.

Overview: This module explores the concepts of freezing point depression, heat transfer, hydrogen bonding, and material science while asking the question, "why does ice cream have a smooth, soft consistency, while frozen water or milk is hard?" 

  • Building Motions in Earthquakes, developed by Vicki V. May, Instructional Associate Professor, Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College; Adapted from: FEMA Seismic Sleuths and SDSC TeacherTech Science Series

Overview: During an earthquake, buildings move – or oscillate. If the frequency of this oscillation is close to the natural frequency of the building, resonance may cause severe damage. This lesson encourages students to observe how the mass, stiffness, and height of buildings affect their motion and how buildings respond to resonant motions.

Overview: About 90% of flowering plants rely on bees and other animals for reproduction through pollination. Pollinators, in turn, benefit from plants by receiving food in the form of nectar and pollen. This "win-win" relationship between plants and pollinators is called a mutualism. This lesson encourages students to understand mutualisms from the POV of both plants and pollinators, and gain an intuition for the effects that human disturbance can have on plant- pollinator interactions.

Overview: Mental operations can come into conflict with each other. For example, it is exceedingly difficult to both remember a list of 15 words and count backwards from 500 in multiples of 7. This is because distinct mental processes (remembering, computing a number) can share mental resources. This lesson explores a similar kind of mental conflict directly, by replicating a famous psychological effect discovered by John Ridley Stroop.

Supporting materials: Worksheet for From DNA to Protein

Overview: In this lesson students will become more familiar with the processes of transcription and translation by performing these tasks with puzzle-like pieces that represent DNA, RNA, tRNA, and amino acid molecules.

  • The Pasta Model of the Bone, developed by Justine Hutchinson, Ph.D. candidate, Pharmacology and Toxicology; adapted from NIHLooking  Good,  Feeling  Good:  From  the  Inside  Out   Lesson  2:  What  Makes  Bones  Strong?

Supporting materials: Pasta-Bone Model Worksheet

Overview: This  lesson  includes  a  hands-­‐on  exploration  of  the  structure  and  function  of  bone.

  • Introduction to Light, developed by Michael Mastanduno,Ph.D. candidate, Engineering;  adapted from Kahn Academy

Overview: Students will use a slinky and a microwave to explore the properties of waves (frequency and wavelength) and have a general understanding of electromagnetic radiation.

  • The Brain Game, developed by Olivia Kang, Ph.D. candidate, Psychological and Brain Sciences

Overview: Our brains are essential for everything that we do, from seeing, to moving, to thinking. This exercise was developed to help students differentiate between the main regions of the brain, and use group- collaboration and critical thinking to discover what kinds of functions these regions are responsible for.

Supporting materialsSpectroscopy Lab  Helium spectrum  Hydrogen spectrum  Neon spectrum  Nitrogen spectrum  Oxygen spectrum

Overview: Astronomers can't go out and do experiments on the stars; the only tool we have to learn about the universe is light. Through this activity, students will discover how astronomers use light to determine what astronomical objects are made of.




Last Updated: 7/15/13